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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Thr 419

Brighton (England) Aquarium records


Letters to the Brighton (England) Aquarium managers and contracts concerning the booking of acts.


  • Creation: 1873-1894

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Collection is open for research.


1.5 linear feet (3 boxes)

The collection contains correspondence to the Aquarium managers (George Reeves Smith, ca. 1873-1880; Isaac Wilkinson, ca. 1881-1894; also at various times George Watts and P.W. Taylor) and contracts concerning the booking of acts, including comedians, clowns, conjurers, vocalists, ventriloquists, animal acts, equilibrists, acrobats, living statuary, swimmers, skaters, puppeteers, and minstrels. There is a small number of letters concerning the purchase of live marine specimens for the Aquarium proper and one for transporting gorillas from Africa.

Biographical / Historical

The Brighton Aquarium, designed by noted pier architect Eugenius Birch, opened in August 1872. It contained not only marine exhibits, but also a reading room, restaurant and conservatory, and soon added a roof terrace garden, roller skating rink and music conservatory. Through the 1890s the site offered organ recitals, lectures, concerts and plays. It was demolished in 1927.


Arranged into two series:

  1. I. Letters to general managers, 1873-1984
  2. II. Contracts, 1885-1888

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

No accession number. Purchase from Dramatis Personae, Sheffield, Massachusetts; received: 1999.

Processing Information

Processed by: Maggie Lehrman

Brighton (England). Aquarium. Brighton (England) Aquarium records: Guide.
Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

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