Ford E. and Harriet R. Curtis Theatre Collection of Pittsburgh Theatre Programs

What’s online?

The entire collection is scanned and online.

What’s in the entire collection?

Individual programs in the collection are mostly organized by the theatre or venue where the production took place. These venues are arranged alphabetically by name, then chronologically. In some instances, a performing arts group did not have a home theatre or consistent venue where they performed, such as the Civic Light Opera and the Quantum Theatre. In these instances, the programs and other materials are filed under the title of the performing arts group.

With each series, the total number of document boxes is listed. The boxes are not numbered consecutively as found in other archival collections because these numbers regularly change with new donations. Typically, the collection's policy is to only keep two copies of a program, although exceptions to this include commemorative programs and programs that are autographed or contain marginalia.

About the Ford E. and Harriet R. Curtis Theatre Collection

One of the main components of the Ford E. and Harriet R. Curtis Theatre Collection is its Pittsburgh theatre programs. Dr. Ford E. Curtis began teaching drama in the English department at the University of Pittsburgh in 1924. He and his wife, Harriet, were avid theatre goers, attending performances every week. After his retirement in 1961, he began to add to their personal collection of playbills and programs in the hopes of building a collection to donate to Pitt.

In the early 1960s, Dr. Curtis even went so far as to put advertisements in Carnegie Magazine, the Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, and programs for the Pittsburgh Playhouse. The advertisements put out a call for any and all Pittsburgh programs to be donated to him; he even listed his home address and telephone number, with the goal to build a Pittsburgh theatre history collection for the University of Pittsburgh. Large numbers of programs were also donated by the New York Public Library and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

The materials that Dr. Curtis amassed -- his own collection, materials donated to him, and the Curtis Collection staff's current efforts to acquire additional programs -- help to document the history of theatre and the performing arts in Pittsburgh.

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