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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Thr 532

George Doane Wells collection of theatrical photographs and ephemera


Portrait photographs of actors and actresses collected by George Doane Wells.

Clippings, playbills, reviews, general biographical information on British and American actors, actresses, and theaters. Some organized by name; some by play title or theatre; and some by publication. Includes some opera singers.

Includes a limited amount of manuscript material, including letters to Wells, 1914-1931; an account book from a tour of Great Britain by Sir Henry Irving's theater company, 1904-1905; and a scrapbook kept by actor W. H. Bland of Liverpool concerning performances by his wife Isabella Somerville Bland, with some correspondence and clipped signatures, 1835-1859.


  • Creation: 1835-1931

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.

Boxes 1-15 of this collection are shelved offsite. Retrieval requires advance notice. Check with Houghton public services staff. Boxes 16 onward are housed on site with Harvard Theatre Collection accessions.


42 linear feet (65 boxes and 5 volumes)

Primarily portrait photographs of American actors and actresses. Some group portraits and a few photographs of scenes from stage productions. If the photographer is known, it is listed in the note. Many items include manuscript annotations on verso. Some images are photomechanical prints.

Biographical / Historical

George Doane Wells was born in Ohio in 1872, and was an 1894 graduate of Harvard College. He spent most of his life in Boston, Massachusetts as a bookbinder and book dealer.


Arranged into two series:

  1. I. Portrait photographs
  2. II. Group photographs from stage productions

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

2004MT-44 . Gift of Elizabeth Huidekouper Wells Stabler (sister of George Doane Wells); received: 1945 May 15.

Related Materials

Related materials held by the Harvard Theatre Collection include: George Doane Wells Manuscripts (*93M-235). Wells manuscripts are also part of the collection of the Harvard University Archives.

Processing Information

Processed by: Monique Duhaime, with the assistance of Melanie Wisner and Bonnie B. Salt

Part of the MS Storage project, 2008-2009.

Additional material processed by Irina Klyagin, 2023

Wells, George Doane, collector. George Doane Wells collection of theatrical photographs and ephemera, circa 1835-1931: Guide.
Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Description rules
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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