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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Thr 1559

Frederic Woodbridge Wilson collection of Theater, Dance and Music

The collection contains 18th, 19th and 20th century printed materials related to all areas of theatre collected by Frederic Woodbridge Wilson.


  • circa 1700-2009

Language of Materials

In multiple languages.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

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.


400 linear feet (361 boxes)

Collection includes photographs and printed materials related to the subjects of theatre and entertainment. They include programs, posters, prints, music, postcards and assorted ephemera.

Biographical / Historical

Fredric Woodbridge Wilson was curator of the Harvard Theatre collection from 1996-2010. Prior to coming to Harvard in 1981, Wilson was appointed to the staff of the Pierpont Morgan Library, now the Morgan Library and Museum, after having become a familiar presence there as a researcher in music and opera. At the Morgan Library, Wilson curated several exhibitions — most importantly a show in 1989 on the Gilbert and Sullivan operas that was one of the library’s largest exhibitions ever — before coming to Harvard. A week after taking his new position, Wilson was awarded a fellowship by the Guggenheim Foundation for research in the history of theatrical publishing. Wilson is the author of many books, including most recently, “The Theatrical World of Angus McBean” (2009). He lectured widely; was an active member of the Society of Printers, the Harvard Musical Association, the Old Cambridge Shakespeare Association, the Signet Society at Harvard, and the Senior Common Room of Lowell House; and was a proprietor of the Boston Athenaeum. At Harvard, he organized major symposia on the choreographer George Balanchine in 2004. His last (and largest) exhibition, which opened in April 2009, was a centenary celebration of Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.


This collection is arranged into three series. Series III is further arranged into subseries based on format.
  1. I. Manuscripts
  2. II. Photographs
  3. III. Printed Material
  4. IIIA. Booklets
  5. IIIB. Chorale Music
  6. IIIC. Postcards
  7. IIID. Posters
  8. IIIE. Programs
  9. IIIF. Scores
  10. IIIG. Sheet Music
  11. IIIH. Subject Files
  12. IIII. Vocal Scores
  13. IIIJ. Unsorted


The collection was donated by Thomas Garrett, 2010.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2010MT-11. Gift of Thomas Garrett; received: 2010 October 19.

Processing Information

Processed by: Jennifer Lyons
The majority of this collection has been retained in the order in which it was kept by Fredric Wilson. Most materials are not described to the item level but organized into the broad categories (person, place, subject) by which it was already arranged. After Wilson’s death, items from the Harvard Theatre Collection were discovered among his collection. During processing, items that could be definitively identified as once belonging to other HTC collections have been returned to their original locations; others remain among the Wilson Collection.
Link to catalog
Wilson, Fredric Woodbridge, collector. Frederic Woodbridge Wilson collection of Theater, Dance and Music, circa 1700-2009: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
2017 May 30
Description rules

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. The library's holdings of primary source material are managed by an expert staff and shared with scholars, students and the public in the reading room.

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