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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Thr 589

Papers for Three designers for the contemporary theatre exhibition


Primarily papers and photographs concerning an exhibition for theater designers, Robert Edmond Jones, Donald Oenslager, and Lee Simonson.


  • Creation: 1915-1954
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1950

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.

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.


.25 linear feet (2 boxes)

Includes exhibition catalogs, posters, fliers, lecture notes by William Van Lennep, and photographs of original costume and set designs. Many, but not all of the photographs of set and costume designs in this collection depict the original materials that were displayed in the exhibit. Includes some unidentified materials including a copper printing plate and proofs. Many of the photographs were taken by Will Rapport.

Some of the images in this collection have been annotated with notes by former curators of the Harvard Theatre Collection. They have noted the date and source of when original designs depicted in the photographs were given to the HTC.

Biographical / Historical

In 1950, the Harvard Theatre Collection and the Fogg Art Museum cooperated on a join exhibition of original materials of Harvard graduates who were theater designers. The exhibition was entitled: Three designers for the contemporary theatre: Robert Edmond Jones, Class of 1910, Donald Oenslager, Class of 1923, and Lee Simonson, Class of 1909. The exhibition physically was located in the Fogg Art Museum, Lamont Library, and in the foyer of Widener Library from October 16 through November 25, 1950. The exhibition, curated by William Van Lennep, Curator of the Theatre Collection, included 200+ drawings, models, and photographs, all lent from individual artists and the Museum of the City of New York, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Stanford University Libraries, none came from Harvard collections. [see foreward to exhibition catalog, item (2)].


Arranged into the following series:

  1. I. General papers on the exhibition and designers
  2. II. Papers on Robert Edmond Jones
  3. III. Papers on Donald Oenslager
  4. IV. Papers on Lee Simonson

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

No accession number. Source and date unknown.

Some of this material appears to have been added after the exhibition date of 1950.

Related Materials

See HOLLIS for additional material on these designers held by the Houghton Library.

General note

This collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. See access restrictions below for additional information.

Processing Information

Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt

Papers for Three designers for the contemporary theatre exhibition, 1915-1954: 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.

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