It’s time for a student spotlight to hear what some of our students are working on behind the scenes at Special Collections & Archives.
My name is Meg Barrett, and come Fall semester, I will be a senior (!), studying Art History. I’ve been working with Special Collections & Archives since the summer of 2016, and I’ve been able to work with some really interesting materials, such as photo records of the university’s College of Nursing to eighteenth-century French newspapers.
Most recently, however, I had the opportunity to create the container list for the School of Theatre’s playbill collection, located in the Degen Resource Room of the Fine Arts Building. This list was added to the collection’s finding aid which means you can now search the collection’s thousands of titles.
The collection has over 200 binders filled with thousands of playbills for plays and musicals, dating back to the 1870s. The collection consists of playbills of shows across the country, such as in New York or Chicago, and even university productions. As an avid theatre fan, who takes every opportunity to see a campus theatre production and enjoys a good musical theatre soundtrack, being able to work on this project was a great experience. The collection includes playbills from shows such as The Boy Friend from 1954, which was Julie Andrews’ Broadway debut, the 1996 production of This is Our Youth, starring Mark Ruffalo, or even the 2000 performance of The Crucible at the Florida State University Fallon Theatre. I am so grateful that I was given the chance to work on this project and look through all of these fascinating materials.
Editor’s Note: Meg has been a fantastic addition to Special Collections & Archives and we’re going to miss her this summer as she goes on a European adventure but will look forward to having her back in the fall!
On many personal notes, this collection is cool. One, I was a theater nerd in high school and I’ll be honest, I never gave much thought to the stage rigging. This collection is changing things. Two, J.R. Clancy calls my hometown its hometown. So, I’ve enjoyed getting to work with this collection which is a very good thing because we’ll be working with it in the Digital Library Center (DLC) for a long time into the foreseeable future.
The J.R. Clancy stage rigging firm was established by stagehand John Clancy in Syracuse, New York, in 1885. The firm is known for innovating products and techniques for stage design including the Welch tension floor block, the automatic fire curtain, and automated stage rigging. The collection itself includes architectural and engineering drawings related to construction and renovation projects managed by the firm, including theatrical designs, drawings for standard parts, wiring diagrams, and standard assemblies for stage rigging systems. You can see the finding aid for the collection in Archon.
The collection here at Florida State University was acquired through the School of Theatre several years ago with the idea that the collection would be digitized in its entirety in the future. Due to the nature of materials, and the scope of the collection (numbering in the the tens of thousands of drawings!), we’ve been doing some major planning and thinking through the digitization project. The collection itself is still in processing which adds another challenge on top of the volume of it. So, for the moment, the collection is being digitized by patron request through the Clancy firm. The first batch of materials is now available online through this process. This set of drawings are for rigging components for the Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada which is getting ready for a renovation project and wanted the original rigging plans for their upcoming work.
As we add more to this collection, we’ll be sure to highlight it here on the blog. In the meantime, the collection does have a finding aid and is available upon request in the Special Collections Research Center Reading Room.