TDGR 289: Intro to Doctoral Studies: Theater Archives in Southern California

University of Southern California

Max Reinhardt Collection. A significant portion of the papers of the German director Max Reinhardt (1873-1943) are housed in the Special Collections Department of USC's Doheny Memorial Library.

Cinema Library Archive of Performing Arts. USC has the archives of several major studios, including MGM, Universal, 20C Fox, and Warner Brothers, as well as the papers of many people in the Industry, some of whom also worked in live theater.

Margaret Herrick Library (The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences)

The Margaret Herrick Library is the world's preeminent research library for the study of motion pictures, with extensive archives of scripts, designs, photographs, business records, clippings, industry publications, etc. Since many film actors, directors, designers, and other artists were also active in live theater, it is also a very important research center for the performing arts in general. A catalog/website of its digital collections has recently been created.

UC Santa Barbara

The UC Santa Barbara Special Collections Library contains several imporant performing arts archives:

Asian American Theater Company Archives

Luis Valdez Papers and the Teatro Campesino Archive

CEMA (California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives) contains materials on performance.

Archives in Southern California

     As relatively young universities formed after UCLA, UC Berkeley, and USC had been collecting rare and archival permforming arts materials for decades, UCSD, UCI and UCR have not significantly focused on the performing arts in their archival collections. Several exceptions are listed in the three boxes below. To the left and right are descriptions of performing arts archives at six other southern California institutions.


Alan Schneider Papers (MSS 0103). The papers of Alan Schneider (1912-1984), a prominent director in contemporary American theater and Professor of Directing. He directed the U.S. premiere of Beckett's Waiting for and established a close relationship with Beckett, bringing many of his plays to the U.S. stage. 


Chris Parry Papers (MSS 0686). The papers of Chris Parry (1952-2007), Tony Award-winning lighting director and UCSD Professor of Theatre Design.  Note: Stored at SRLF. Must be requested in advance.


Jorge Huerta Papers (MSS 0142). The papers (1964-2008) of Jorge Huerta, Professor Emeritus of Theatre & Dance at UCSD, the nation's leading expert in the field of Chicano/a theater. 


Betty Freeman Papers (MSS 277). Although this archive is primarily devoted to avant-garde music of the mid-to-late 20th century, there is considerable material relating to choreographer Merce Cunningham and postmodern performance in general.


Sushi Performance & Visual Art Archive, 1980-2009 (MSS 0741).  Materials include administrative files, clippings, ephemera, art work, taped performances, files for Black Choreographers Moving, and artist and visual arts files.


Jackson Mac Low Papers (MSS 0180). Principally regarded as a poet, Mac Low was an important figure in the development of performance art in New York City from the 1950s until his death.


Paul Espinosa Papers. Not yet processed; received 2015. Papers and film relating to the career of documentary filmmaker Paul Espinosa, who specializes in themes relevant to the Latino community.




     The UCI Dance Collection contains 4,000 books and periodical titles and 60 archival collections related to dance performance and theory, choreography, and theory of motion from the 17th century to the present.  Other materials include archives and manuscripts, dance cards, performance programs, and photographs.  It includes the papers of noted UCI faculty members Eugene Loring, Olga Maynard, and Donald McKayle.  Nearly all modes of dance are represented, including concert dance, social dances, world dance, and physical movement and exercise.



The Irene Saltern Salinger Papers. Salinger was a Hollywood costume designer from 1937 to 1943 and fashion designer into the 1970s. Her papers include pencil and watercolor costume sketches for Hollywood film productions and her commercial work, photographs, fashion plates, scrapbooks, personal and professional correspondence, fabric swatches, fashion line summaries and photographs, research materials, as well as sales and advertisement materials from circa 1950 to 1980. The collection also includes European fashion plates collected by Salinger, showcasing popular clothing for upper-class men, women, and children from the mid- to late- nineteenth century.

UC Riverside

Ruth St. Denis Papers. Collection 069. Contains photographs, press clippings, and correspondence regarding the personal and professional life of Ruth St. Denis, an early pioneer in the field of modern dance. Not fully processed.

Sadakichi Hartmann Collection. Hartmann was an art critic, photographer, artist, social historian, playwright, dancer, actor, and all-around man of letters.