Theatre Research Page
Theatre Research Page
A Record of Dramatic Performances at a Leading Victorian Theatre
Formerly the Sans Pareil (1806-1819), later the Adelphi (1819-1900)
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Theatre Research Page

This page is intended to bring together a selection of sources available to nineteenth-century theatre scholars.  For example, Amherst College holds the records and publications of the Samuel French Company, and Princeton University has the William Seymour Collection with 9,000 playbooks and prompt copies.  Several institutions have invaluable ephemera such as Bodleian Library at Oxford or the Praefcke postcard archive of 1900 theatres in over 100 countries.

For the user’s convenience, there is a section devoted to theatre journals and their concerns, which range widely and include such subjects as the non-profit theatre, dramatic theory and criticism, history and ethnography of performance, and performance studies, and black, gay and lesbian theatre.  There is a section devoted to theatre societies and universities offering scholarships.

A major emphasis is the history of theatre with sections devoted to the patent houses and the Sans Pareil/Adelphi.

(Warning: Webpages in this section are liable to change.  These links were operational in June 2016.)

Actors and Actresses:


Boucicault, Dion (Dion Boucicault Theatre Collection at the University of South Florida)

One of the largest public collections of Boucicault materials purchased from his widow, Josephine Cheney Boucicault.  The collection consists of approximately 781 items, including printed and manuscript play scripts, stage directions, letters, and musical scores.  The collection also includes set design sketches, prompt books, photographs and select musical segments.  Most of USF's materials related to Boucicault's The Shaughraun have been digitized and are available online.

Collections (Theatre):


Amherst College, Samuel French Collection

M. Abbott Van Nostrand presented his alma mater with the records and publications of the Samuel French Company of which he had been president.  The materials contained thousands of plays, publications, photographs and costume design illustrations.  The nineteenth and twentieth century acting editions of Augustin Daly and T. H. Lacy are included along with “sides”—parts copied for individual roles.  A large number of playbills, programs, magazines and musical scores is included.


British Library

The British Library holds an unparalleled collection of literary and theatrical materials containing important manuscripts in most European languages, from the 4th century B.C. to modern times.  Literary archives and manuscripts are found in a range of formats: from parchment, vellum and paper, to digital media.


Chicago Theater Collection  (Harold Washington Library Center)

The historical collection includes pre-fire imprints, and extensive runs of programs and scrapbooks recording productions in over 100 theaters from 1880 to 1960: neighborhood theaters, vaudeville and variety shows, minstrel shows, musical comedy theaters, and local stock companies.


Dartmouth College: Henry Williams & E. Bradlee Watson Theatre Collection

Contains approximately 20,000 programs, playbills and cuttings.  There are texts of 10,000 published plays.  Included in the collection are the Barrett Clark Collection of British, French and German plays of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the MacKaye family of late nineteenth-century French plays.  There is a large collection of reviews, clippings, and material about performers as well as before and behind-the-stage personnel.


Harvard Theatre Collection (Houghton Library)

Harvard Theatre Collection includes documentary material about to the history of the performing arts, including the fields of theater, dance and ballet, and opera and musical theater.  It houses many forms of popular entertainment, such as magic and conjuring, music hall and variety, pantomime and extravaganza, puppetry, toy theater, circuses and menageries, fairgrounds, pageants and outdoor drama, festivals and spectacles, film, and minstrelsy. It contains vast collections of programs and playbills, posters, play texts, and libretti.

For Adelphi Theatre materials:


Kent University, England  (Templeman Library's theatre collection)

Contains material, inter al., on the Britannia Theatre, Hoxton, Boucicault (two collections) and plays (bound and unbound).


Ohio State University (Jerome Lawrence & Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute)

The Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute serves as an archive for performers, playwrights, choreographers, designers, producing organizations, and theatre and dance companies, among others, and advances the study and inspiration of the performing arts.  The collections include personal papers; organizational archives; costume, scene, lighting designs, and technical theatre documentation; costumes; models of stage sets and theatres; photographs; posters; artwork; film, videotape and sound recordings.


Princeton University:  William Seymour Collection

William Seymour, a prominent actor and stage manager, collected theatre materials all his life.  There are over 9000 playbooks and prompt editions as well as playbills, letters, photos, clippings, and engravings.  His correspondence was with 1800 people, most connected to the stage.  The collection has over 700 playbills of Civil War performances as well as the career of James E. Murdoch.  In the 1940s, major accessions of English nineteenth-century playbills were made. An additional four hundred and eighty-six scrapbooks contain pasted-in playbills.  A large collection of musical comedies and operettas of the past 50 years of the Broadway stage and around eighty volumes of scores, plus another 100 volumes of music by individual composers and representative show tunes 1919-1969 have been transferred to the Mendel Music Library.


Theatre Voice

Theatre VOICE is the leading site for audio content about British theatre.  It was set up in 2003, allowing critics to be more expansive than the usual space constraints of the print media allowed; to enable actors, writers, directors and designers to be heard talking in detail and at length about their work; and to help members of the public interact more directly with theatre-makers and commentators. In April 2008, the Department of Theatre & Performance at the V&A and Rose Bruford College agreed to support the site in partnership.


University of Bristol Theatre Collection

One of the world’s largest archives of British theatre history ranging from 1572 to the present.  The particular focus of the archive is theatre in south-west England, nineteenth-century theatre, post-World War II, live art, scenery and costume design. A major cataloguing program has computerized information of over 100,000 items. The Theatre Collection was also involved in Backstage, a collaborative project to provide a theatre gateway on the Internet, and the digitization of images for online access.


University of Glasgow:  Scottish Theatre Archive

The archive’s role is to preserve Scotland’s theatrical heritage.  Its coverage is wide and includes traditional and modern theatre and serious and popular works.  There are extensive holdings of play scripts (7,300) as well as separate collections of the works of John Cairney, Michael Elder, Robert Kemp and the Scottish Society of Playwrights.  The archives of the Citizen’s Theatre, Scottish ballet, BBC Radio Scotland script collection and the Jimmy Logan Collection of music hall material are held. The contents of the different collections vary, but in general they include programs, scripts, production notes, photographs, posters, and press-cuttings.


University of Guelph: L. W. Connolly Theatre Archives

Combining materials from 150 collections, the archive concentrates mainly but not exclusively on Canadian theatre.  There is, for example, a great deal of material devoted to George Bernard Shaw.  Nevertheless, it is the largest collection of Canadian theatre in the world.  There are records of theatre companies, English and French speaking and hundreds of actors and theatre personnel. While the majority of the collections relate to the last century, there are significant exceptions such as the Garrick Family Papers and a collection about Edmund Kean.  The archive is a repository of native, black, gay and lesbian, multicultural and children’s theatre.


University of Pittsburgh: Curtis Theatre Collection

A collection of thousands of plays, acting editions and books of theatre criticism and history.  There are over half a million programs, posters, scrapbooks, and personal papers of show people.  Also, the Curtis Collection houses 20,000 photographs.  It is the primary source of theatrical activity in the Pittsburgh area as far back as the 1840s.


Victoria and Albert Museum

The V&A holds many special collections and archives of theatre and the performing arts, from individual performers and collectors, theatres, theatre companies and other organizations.  They contain diaries, letters, manuscripts, photographs, ephemera, business papers, newspaper cuttings, designs and sketches.


Victoria and Albert Museum, The Theatre and Performance collection (Gabrielle Enthoven Collection)

The Theatre and Performance collection was founded in the 1920s when a private collector, Gabrielle Enthoven, donated her extensive collection of theatrical designs, memorabilia, books and photographs to the Museum.  Since then the collection has continued to grow and has provided a home for many other significant objects and archives.  All areas of the live performing arts are represented in the collections, documenting both current practice and the history of the performing arts in the UK.

Ephemera Collections:


Bodleian Library, University of Oxford (The John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera--Entertainment)

The John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera offers a fresh view of British history through primary, uninterpreted printed documents which, produced for short-term use, have survived by chance.


Carthalia (Theatres on Postcards)

Andreas Praefcke's postcard collection of theatres and concert halls worldwide.  The web site does not yet feature the entire collection, but there are 4300 images of over 1900 buildings in 100 countries.


Evanion Collection of Ephemera

Over 2,000 adverts and posters from Victorian daily life, collected by the stage magician and ventriloquist, Henry Evans-Evanion.  A search box allows the user can find the items relating to theatre.


Florida, University of (Belknap Collection for the Performing Arts)

The Belknap Collection is an eclectic mixture of mainly non-book, primary research materials.  Nearly 85% of the collection is ephemera from 19th and 20th Century Europe and America.  The archive includes more than 60,000 playbills, programs, costume and stage designs, sheet music, theatrical scrapbooks, prints, etchings, drawings, photographs, posters, and scripts spanning all of the performing arts.  The Belknap Collection also includes essential reference books, rare and large pictorial books, and relevant performing arts periodicals.  The Ringling Theatre Collection is included.  It traces the history of stagecraft through Shakespearean prints, 18th, 19th and 20th century European and American handbills, posters and heralds, souvenir photographs and prints of the legendary performers of the past three centuries.


The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts (Billy Rose Theatre Collection)

The Billy Rose Theatre Collection of The New York Public Library is one of the largest and most comprehensive archives devoted to the theatrical arts.  Encompassing dramatic performance in all its diversity, the Collection is an indispensable resource for artists, writers, researchers, scholars, students, and the general public.


H. Adrian Smith Collection of Conjuring and Magicana (Brown University)

The H. Adrian Smith Collection of Conjuring and Magicana, long considered one of the finest private libraries on conjuring and magic.  The Collection is the gift and bequest of the collector, class of 1930, who as an undergraduate put himself through Brown by giving magic performances.  The print materials are fully cataloged, and records for media are available in the Library's online catalog.


Theatre Ephemera (Northeastern Illinois University)

Designed for teachers of theatre and their students as a focus on theatre of the U.S. prior to 1900—performers, managers, crew, productions, tours, and background on the theatre buildings.  There is also a miscellaneous section to visit and WWW virtual library-links to theatre image collections.

Journals Devoted to Theatre Scholarship (a Selection):


American Theatre

A monthly magazine published by the Theatre Communications Group, American Theatre covers trends and events in all types of theatre, but the main focus is on professional, not-for-profit theatre.  The journal rarely publishes articles about commercial, amateur, or university theatre, dance, or opera.


Comparative Drama

Devoted to studies international in spirit and interdisciplinary in scope; it is published quarterly by Western Michigan University.



The Educational Theatre Association’s monthly magazine for high school theatre students and teachers.  Features include new plays, practical articles on acting, directing, design, production, and career-oriented profiles of theatre professionals.  See also, Teaching Theatre.


Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism

Founded in 1986 at the University of Kansas.  Publishes full-length articles contributing to the varied conversations in dramatic theory and criticism, and explores the relationship between theory and theatre practice.  Published semi-annually.


Modern Drama

Founded in 1958, it focusses on dramatic literature.  The journal emphasizes close readings of both canonical and lesser-known dramatic texts from a range of methodological perspectives.  The journal features articles written from a variety of geo-political points of view, which enhance our understanding of the dramatic literature of the past two centuries.  Published quarterly.


Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film

Regularly publishes essays, documents, bibliographies and filmographies, book reviews, and review essays.  The policy of Nineteenth Century Theatre & Film treats the term "theatre" comprehensively to include the various arts of performance up to the advent of sound motion pictures.  The journal embraces not only drama and film but also dance, opera, music hall, circus, fairground entertainment, puppetry and other forms which implicate live audiences (actual, potential or imaginary).


Performance Research

Since 1996 Performance Research has set a precedent that has become standard for thematic and cross-disciplinary ways of bringing together the varied materials of artistic and theoretical research in performance.  The journal is designed as a dynamic space of performance to produce inspiring conversations, unlikely connections, and curious confluences.  The emphasis is on contemporary performance.



A journal of performance studies and a forum for radical performance and theoretical intervention.  The Dramatic Review engages performance in its aesthetic, historical, social, economic, political, and theoretical contexts.  The disciplinary zone of performance is conceived broadly and emphasizes the experimental, the critical, and the provocative.


Teaching Theatre

A quarterly journal published by The Educational Theatre Association intended for professional theatre educators.  A typical issue includes an article on acting, directing, playwriting, or technical theatre; a profile of an outstanding educational theatre program; a piece on curriculum design, assessment, or teaching methodology; and reports on current trends or issues in the field, such as funding, standards, or certification.  See also, Dramatics.



Originally titled Yale/Theater, the journal was founded in 1968 as "a gathering of responses to real events" in that tumultuous year.  In the magazine’s first issue, Ren Frutkin declared it would consist of "theatre, thought, discussion, dream, art, people." Theater has introduced countless important international dramatists to readers and theaters and has published some of America’s most innovative playwrights.  Many distinguished critics have contributed groundbreaking essays, commentary, and reviews.


Theatre Annual

Publishes articles on the history and ethnography of performance, drawing from such areas as theatre studies, popular culture, music, anthropology communication, dance, philosophy, folklore, history, and performance studies across disciplinary lines.


Theatre History Studies

The official journal of the Mid-American Theatre Conference.  It is devoted to research and excellence in all areas of theatre history.  Since 1981, Theatre History Studies has provided critical, analytical, and descriptive articles on all aspects of theatre history.


Theatre Journal

Drawing contributions from noted practitioners and scholars, Theatre Journal features social and historical studies, production reviews, and theoretical inquiries analyzing dramatic texts and production.  It is an official publication of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE).  See also, Theatre Topics.


Theatre Notebook

A journal of the history of British Theatre published by the Society for Theatre Research, London.  TN covers theatrical activities of all kinds both before and behind the curtain--acting, directing, managing professional and amateur theatre, the business of theatre, stage design, the history of theatre buildings, acting technique, and theatre outside the British Isles.


Theatre Research International

The journal publishes articles on theatre practices in their social, cultural, and historical contexts, their relationship to other media of representation, and to other fields of inquiry.  Theatre Research International seeks to reflect the evolving diversity of critical idioms prevalent in the scholarship of differing world contexts.


Theatre Survey

Published three times a year by the American Society for Theatre Research as a theatre history journal, Theatre Survey provides rigorous historical and theoretical studies of performance across all periods, cultures, and methodologies.


Theatre Topics

The first theatre publication devoted to issues of concern to practitioners.  It focuses on performance studies, dramaturgy, and theatre pedagogy.  Concise and timely articles on a broad array of practical, performance-oriented topics are published.  A publication of the Assoc. for Theatre in Higher Education.  See also, Theatre Journal.

Plays and Playwrights:


Pinero, Arthur Wing (University of Rochester, New York, River Campus Libraries)

The two box collection consists mainly of correspondence between Sir Arthur Wing Pinero and his wife with members of English and American theatres.  Of special interest is a group of letters written in 1875 by Pinero and his friend Tom Tomlin when the former was a young actor in Liverpool and other provincial theatres.

Professional Organizations:


American Society for Theatre Research

The American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) is a U.S.-based professional organization that fosters scholarship on worldwide theatre and performance, both historical and contemporary.


Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE)

The Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) is a comprehensive non-profit professional membership organization.  Founded in 1986, ATHE serves the interests of its diverse individual and organizational members, including college and university theatre departments and administrators, educators, graduate students, and theatre practitioners.


Educational Theatre Association

A professional organization for theatre educators providing professional development, advocacy, and networking support to its members.  EdTA operates the International Thespian Society, an honorary organization for high school and middle school theatre students.  It publishes Dramatics, a monthly magazine for students and teachers, and Teaching Theatre, a quarterly journal for theatre education professionals.  EdTA's annual Thespian Festival is the premiere showcase for high school theatre, drawing students and teachers from throughout the United States and abroad.



British Library (Literary and Theatrical collections)

The theatre collections include plays submitted to the Lord Chamberlain's Office for examination and licensing between 1824 and 1968.  Plays submitted since 1968 under the terms of the Theatres Act of that year continue the collection up to the present day.  The Lord Chamberlain's Plays Project seeks to provide wider and more comprehensive access to a major collection of 19th-century drama.  The Lord Chamberlain's Plays licensed from 1852 to 1863 will now be searchable via the British Library's manuscript catalogue.  The catalogue descriptions will offer readers as much information as possible, including first performance dates, names of theatres and alternative published editions.


Iconography – Golden Age of Theatre History (1880-1920)

Images from the British and American theatre with details about their lives and careers.  Maintained by Sydney Higgins, Professor of English, Università di Camerino, Italy.


Music Hall and Theatre History Site

Dedicated to Arthur Lloyd (1839-1904).  This website began life back in 2001 when Matthew Lloyd decided that his great grandfather, a popular music hall performer, should have a presence on the Internet.  Consists of press cuttings, programs, posters, books, magazines, postcards, and original song sheets.  It has extensive iconography and history of music halls.


New York University -- 19th Century Theatre History Research Guide

A guide for finding bibliographies, indexes, books, articles and newspapers relating to 19th century theatre.


SIBMAS - International Association of Libraries and Museums of the Performing Arts

The SIBMAS International Directory of Performing Arts Collections and Institutions lists over 7000 international institutions with material relating to the performing arts.


Stetson University, Florida

Designed to help the user find theatre information on the Internet.  It is designed to be a guide rather than a listing of resources and is performance oriented.  Main sections online indexes and databases, actors and acting, plays and playwrights, electronic texts, journals and images.  Does not include commercial sites.  This page is maintained by Ken McCoy.


Theatre Database (19th Century)


Theatre History on the Web

A comprehensive collection of links to theatre resources from the beginning of drama to the contemporary period.  Maintained by Jack Walcott (retired), School of Drama, University of Washington.


UK Web Archives (Arts and Humanities) Theatre

The UK Web Archive contains UK websites that publish research, that reflect the diversity of lives, interests and activities throughout the UK, and demonstrate web innovation.  This includes "grey literature" sites those that carry briefings, reports, policy statements, and other ephemeral but significant forms of information.

The archive is free to view, accessed directly from the Web itself and, since archiving began in 2004, has collected thousands of websites.  The theatre section has sixty-five sites on all facets of the theatre.


Victoria and Albert Museum, London

A repository of artifacts from the reign of Queen Victoria.  The collection of nineteenth-century theatre materials is extensive.


Victorian Web (Literature, History and Culture in the Age of Victoria)

Links to many articles written about music, theatre and popular entertainment.  Main sections include composers, drama and dramatists, genre, themes, popular entertainment and a bibliography.

Scholarships in Theatre Studies:


Scholarship Hunter

Lists a few scholarships in music, theatre and performance, and music.


Michigan, University of


Michigan State University


Northern Arizona University


Texas Christian University


Tyler Junior College


Western Michigan University

Stagecraft and Technical Theatre:

resr_270.jpg (Glossary of Technical Theatre Terms) has been online since 1997 and is a developing resource for theatre technicians.  It claims to be the biggest technical theatre glossary on the Web with over 1630 terms listed.  Terms can be traced by word search, browsing by letter, random word finder or category search.  The glossary is edited by Jon Primrose, Technical Manager at the University of Exeter Drama Department in the UK.  (It is not connected to Theatre Crafts, which has been superseded by Live Design magazine.)

Theatre History (General):


History London Theatres


Theatre History


Theatres Victorian London

Theatre History (Patent Houses):


Covent Garden

History and architecture


Drury Lane

Brief history (by Really Useful Theatre Group).


Theatre Royal Haymarket

The Haymarket was permitted to stage legitimate drama during the summer months when the Patent theatres were closed.

Theatre History (Sans Pareil/Adelphi):


Adelphi Theatre - Independent Guide

The Independent Guide to London Theatres page on the Adelphi Theatre.


Adelphi Theatre - Arthur Lloyd Page

Arthur Lloyd Page on the Adelphi Theatre.


Adelphi Theatre - Really Useful Theatre Group

Brief history (by Really Useful Theatre Group).


Adelphi Theatre - Victorian Web

The Victorian Web page on the Adelphi (Strand).


British History Online - Survey of London

British History Online History of the Adelphi and other locations on Maiden Lane.

Theatre Societies:


American Society for Theatre Research

The American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) is a U.S.-based professional organization that fosters scholarship on worldwide theatre and performance, both historical and contemporary.


Canadian Association for Theatre Research


Indian Society for Theatre Research (ISTR)

The Society announced a new website, but it did not function as of 6.18.2016. (


Irish Society for Theatre Research


Society for Theatre Research (London)


Theatre Heritage (Australia)

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Thank you for visiting this site.
Copyright © 1988, 1992, 2013 and 2016 by Alfred L. Nelson, Gilbert B. Cross, Joseph Donohue.
Originally published by Greenwood Press as The Sans Pareil Theatre 1806-1819, Adelphi Theatre 1819-1850: An Index to Authors, Titles, Performers, 1988, and The Adelphi Theatre 1850-1900: An Index to Authors, Titles, Performers and Management, 1992.
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The Adelphi Theatre Calendar revised, reconstructed and amplified.  Copyright © 2013 and 2016  by Alfred L. Nelson, Gilbert B. Cross, Joseph Donohue.  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License, with the exception of graphics from The Clip Art Book, edited by Gerard Quinn and published by Crescent in 1990.  These images are reproduced in accord with the publisher’s note, which states "The Clip Art Book is a new compilation of illustrations that are in the public domain.  The individual illustrations are copyright free and may be reproduced without permission or payment.  However, the selection of illustrations and their layout is the copyright of the publisher, so that one page or more may not be photocopied or reproduced without first contacting the publishers."