Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: MS Thr 568

John Eldon Thayer collection of motion picture memorabilia


Collection of twentieth century motion picture memorabilia collected by John Eldon Thayer.


  • 1916-1979

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on this material.

A portion of this collection is not housed at the Houghton Library but is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.


35 linear feet (70 boxes)

The majority of the collection consists of photographs of actors as well as letters written by actors to Thayer. Actors featured in the photographs include Alan Alda, Fred Astaire, Tallulah Bankhead, Alec Guinness, Raquel Welch, and Vera Zorina. Letters include those written by Elsie Albert, Mignon Anderson, Maxine Elliot, Vivien Leigh, Walter Matthau, Leonard Nimoy, and Lillian Walker.

Thayer also complied a series of scrapbooks as well as collecting autographs in small blank books. Other materials collected by Thayer include clippings, motion picture posters, and realia.

Biographical / Historical

John Eldon Thayer (1899-1980) collected motion picture memorabilia for almost 80 years during the twentieth century.


Arranged into the following series:

  1. I. Photographs collected by John Eldon Thayer
  2. I-A. Actors from motion pictures (visual works)
  3. I-B. Scenes from motion pictures (visual works)
  4. I-C. Other photographs
  5. II. Letters to John Eldon Thayer
  6. III. Compositions
  7. IV. Collected material
  8. IV-A. Autograph books
  9. IV-B. Clippings and files
  10. IV-C. Posters
  11. IV-D. Other collected material
  12. V. Scrapbooks
  13. VI. Realia

Physical Location

b, Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2004MT-70 and 2006MT-262r. Bequest of John Eldon Thayer, received: 1980.

General note

A portion of this collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. See access restrictions below for additional information.

Processing Information

Processed by: Alexis Dinniman and Jennifer Lyons.

Thayer, John Eldon, 1899-1980. John Eldon Thayer collection of motion picture memorabilia, 1916-1979: Guide.
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.

Harvard Yard
Harvard University
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2440