Stead Collection

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Collection Data

The Stead Collection gives a comprehensive depiction of the English theater. The collection consists primarily of playbills, programs, clippings and prints, but also contains manuscript material consisting of letters, photographs, legal and financial documents, and ephemera. Broadsides and programs, usually single sheets, comprise the bulk of the collection. There are often complete or nearly complete runs in the 18th and 19th centuries for some London theaters including the Theatres Royal at Haymarket, Covent Garden and Drury Lane. Other London theaters include the Adelphi and Royal Victoria, and some that were subsequently demolished or converted to other uses such as the Lyceum, Olympic, St. James, and Surrey. Also contains some programs for theaters outside London: in Bath, Leeds, Liverpool, and other cities. Subject files created by Stead consist of material in various formats relating to particular actors, plays, theaters, or playwrights. For example, there are letters of actors such as Edmund Kean and William Macready; many files under title for individual plays by Shakespeare and other playwrights; small amounts of material on pantomime and the circus; and general files on British theatrical history. Legal documents include leases and other material relating to theatrical litigation. Financial records include account books, ledgers and box office statements. The collection also contains music; drawings; time-books, which are records kept by stage managers of artists' attendances at rehearsals and performances; and ephemera such as tickets. Though the focus of the collection is on British theater, there is a small amount of material documenting the American, French and German stage.
Stead, Hiram (Collector)
Dates / Origin
Date Issued: 1672 - 1932
Library locations
Billy Rose Theatre Division
Shelf locator: *T-Mss 1933-001
Theaters -- England
Biographical/historical: Collector and theater-goer, Stead travelled through Great Britain collecting playbills, programs and other ephemera to document British theater history.
Citation/reference: Cataloged individually in the Library online catalog.
Physical Description
Extent: 600 portfolios
Type of Resource
Still image
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b11848412
MSS Unit ID: 21306
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 5df86560-b298-0131-a5a3-58d385a7b928
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