Online resources on early American theatre? (Frances Ann Denny Drake)
June 18, 2018 9:00 AM   Subscribe

I have a friend who is researching the life of Mrs. Frances Ann Denny Drake (1797-1875), a noted tragedian of the 19th century in America. It's tough finding primary resources about her life and her work; typically, my friend has come across information by scouring old newspapers, if she's lucky enough to find ones that have been preserved. I guess my question is: what might be some online resources that we might be unaware of? Thanks!
posted by pt68 to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
(runs into room) Hello.

The Lincoln Center branch of the New York Public Library is home to the Billy Rose Collection, which is a g-darn treasure trove of theatrical memorabilia. In addition to the collected NY Times theater reviews for, oh everything, and the theater-on-tape collection, they also have clippings collections - somebody actually would cut out any and every clipping about any actor, play, director, producer, playwright, etc., everything from gossip-columny stuff to programs from off-off-Broadway revivals.

15-odd years ago when I was doing more dramturgy work, you would go there and request the collection on a certain person/play/whatever, and they'd bring you a file folder of everything. It looks like a lot of the collection has been digitized now (I linked you to the online version). It takes some digging, but you can find some amazing stuff in there.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:11 AM on June 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

Sorry, maybe too obvious, but has she consulted Early American Newspapers?
posted by praemunire at 9:12 AM on June 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Tried Google Books which seems to have some hits on the "Tragic Muse"?
posted by johngoren at 9:39 AM on June 18, 2018

Not to be too simplistic, but this is what librarians are for. If you use the Ask a Librarian feature of any university library (preferably one at which your friend has physical or online access to), you should get a helpful list of resources. There are some really obscure databases that you'd never think of, but which a librarian might know off the top of the head.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:10 AM on June 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seconding ask a librarian and adding, ask multiple librarians. it's also worth looking up libraries that are likely to have a decent collection related to this topic and asking them even if you aren't directly affiliated with their library - they may still be able to search for you an provide some information. I'm a current MLIS student and tried searching through the databases at my University (which has a theater dept but isn't famous for it) and I found nothing. But that doesn't mean that the information can't be found - just not where I am.
posted by acidnova at 1:35 PM on June 18, 2018

Old newspapers online and searchable: Fulton History. Don’t be put off by the Geocities feel of the website, it is an amazing resource. Millions of newspapers. Millions.
posted by sciencegeek at 5:25 PM on June 18, 2018

Tufts has a good subject guide about early American Theater History which will give you a bunch of links to different resources.
Two specific collections: Harvard University and the UT Austin Ransom Center both have excellent resources for early American Theater History. 
posted by geryon at 6:19 PM on June 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Absolutely on the librarians: they are treasures and my friend is on that. But thank you for that acidnova and mudpuppie!

On it with the Google as well, but thank you, johngoren!

To everyone else, these links are amazing and I am passing them along right this minute.

You are all goshdarned treasures. Long live meta!

(and if anybody comes up with more, you, too, are treasures . . .)
posted by pt68 at 10:45 AM on June 19, 2018

For theatre research try this great resource the Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute at Ohio State University.
posted by CaryD at 2:20 AM on July 16, 2018

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