19th Century Actors Photographs

From the University of Washington, headshots from the 19th Century. Some things never change.

Allison Delarue Collection

At Princeton University, a superb collection of theatre history materials.

American Ballroom Companion: Dance Instruction Manuals

Over 200 social dance manuals at the Library of Congress. Useful for scholars and choreographers.

American Variety Stage: Vaudeville and Popular Entertainment

Multimedia anthology on vaudeville, selected from various Library of Congress holdings: 334 English- and Yiddish-language play scripts, 146 theater playbills and programs, 61 motion pictures, 10 sound recordings, and 143 photographs, plus 29 memorabilia items documenting the life and career of Harry Houdini.

Ashihara Collection

The performing arts collection in the National Diet Library of Japan. Eiryo Ashihara played a leading role in the introduction of ballet (chanson in particular) and Western culture to Japan through his activities as a critic and commentator. Thus the Ashihara Collection specializes in Western performing arts.

Belknap Collection for the Performing Arts

From the University of Florida, an eclectic mixture of mainly non-book, primary research materials: more than 60,000 playbills, programs, costume and stage designs, sheet music, theatrical scrapbooks, prints, etchings, drawings, photographs, posters, and scripts, spanning all performing arts.

Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia 

Collects information on Canadian actors, playwrights, designers, theatre organizations and other Canadian theatre information. You can browse or search the site. Also offers a good collection of Canadian theatre links.

Cuban Theater Archive/Archivo Teatral Cubano

A resource for research, teaching, and learning in Cuban theater and performance; a community repository for Cuban theatrical materials; and a forum to foster scholarly communication in this field. The Digital Archive includes materials digitized and filmed in Cuba and elsewhere.

Cultural Policy & the Arts National Data Archive

A beautiful site, CPANDA provides an: “Interactive digital archive of policy-relevant data on the arts and cultural policy in the United States.” Sounds dry, but there’s some wonderful stuff here, both for scholars and to inspire artists.

Empire Period Drama

Really, who doesn’t like French plays from the Napoleonic Empire period?

English Server Drama Collection

A collection of original plays and screenplays, criticism, and links to other sites concerned with theatre; provides classic and contemporary works. Playwrights can submit their work for the site’s review.

Folger Shakespeare Library

Bills itself as the world’s largest and finest collection of Shakespeare materials, as well as collections of other rare Renaissance books, manuscripts, and works of art. And offers Hamnet, the library’s online catalog. I mean, come on—how cool is that?

Furness Shakespeare Library

Primary and secondary sources on the theater, literature, and history of Shakespeare. Digital facsimiles of Shakespeare’s plays.

George S. Kaufman 

A site dedicated to the great comic playwright; presents a biography, a play catalog, filmography, news, and an archive on the man who wrote for the Marx Brothers and lived to tell the tale.

Harvard Theatre Collection 

One of the first collections of its kind in the U.S., Harvard hosts one of the largest performing arts collections in the world, and the oldest theatre collection of international significance.

Infomine: Visual and Performing Arts

A search engine for scholarly Internet resources.

International Association of Libraries and Museums of the Performing Arts (SIBMAS)

SIBMAS provides a forum for scholars all over the world, promoting research and documentation of the performing arts. Links include: Members (by country); Research Sites; and National Collections.

Internet Broadway Database (IDBD)

The official database for Broadway theatre information, presented by the League of American Theatres and Producers.

Internet Shakespeare Editions 

A digital library publishing works for students, scholars, actors, and general readers. Fully annotated texts of Shakespeare’s plays, multimedia explorations, and records of his plays in performance.

Irish Theatre Online

The Irish Theatre Institute provides this “a comprehensive guide to professional drama, dance and opera in Ireland, North and South.” Includes a database of new Irish plays produced professionally since 1904. Lists over 200 production companies.

Library of Congress Presents Music, Theater and Dance

An extensive performing arts encyclopedia.

Library of Congress: Federal Theatre Project, 1935–1939 

Some 13,000 images from the Federal Theatre Project Collection: stage and costume designs, still photographs, posters, and scripts from the New Deal era. Includes resources for teachers.

Milieux: the Costume Site

Costuming sources for: “historical, science fiction, and fantasy costumers.” That is: steampunk. Get your goggles on.

Motley Collection of Theatre and Costume Design

Documentation on theatre history, housed in a Rare Book and Special Collections Library. Contains some 5,000 items from more than 150 productions in England and the United States, including: costume and set designs, sketches, notes, photographs, prop lists, storyboards, and swatches of fabric. And somehow it’s lovely that it can be described as a “Motley Collection.”


Searchable song lists, lyrics, links, and synopses for over 80 musicals.

Parfaict Dictionnaire 

Online version the 1767 edition of the Parfaicts’ Dictionnaire des theatres de Paris. In French.

Proper Elizabethan Accents

Hint: it doesn’t all sound like Masterpiece Theater: pronunciation, drills, grammar, vocabulary, forms of address, songs, references, and—especially—insults.

Renascence Editions: Works Printed in English, 1477-1799

From the University of Oregon, a fine collection of historical plays, including 37 by Shakespeare.

Shakespeare Mystery

From PBS’ Frontline: exploring the ongoing question of how the heck one guy could write so many great plays.

Shakespeare Oxford Society

Seeks to document and establish Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, as the author of Shakespeare’s plays. Whatever. The website serves as a source on the Shakespeare authorship controversy.

Shakespeare’s Globe Center 

Devoted to the architecture of the new Globe Theatre and promotion of Shakespeare in education.

The Theatre Museum

Chronicling U.S. theatre, it provides exhibitions, educational, and public programs for scholars, architects, historians, and actors.


French drama texts from the University of Quebec in Montreal. French.

Theatre Ephemera 

An image collection from American theatre before 1900: includes images of people, productions, and theaters. Materials may be copyrighted. Plus links to other, similar historical sites. Really, it’s rather fascinating to look through these antique playbills and photographs, from theatre’s pre-electric era. Despite a century’s distance, it’s still all about selling tickets.

Theatre History on the Web 

Resources on theatre history, maintained by Jack Walcott. Provides links for Elizabethan to Contemporary theatre, technical areas such as costumes and lighting, and links to research libraries and archives.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s