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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Thr 1795

Dorothy Coit King-Coit School and Children's Theatre collection

Contains scripts, music, and photographs relating to the King-Coit School and Children's Theatre and the productions performed by the students, directed by Dorothy Coit with scenic and costume designs by Edith Lawrence King.


  • circa 1922-1979

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.
A portion of this collection 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.


2.5 linear feet (3 boxes and 10 oversize folders)

Includes photographs and designs of the King-Coit School and Children’s Theatre productions of: “Aucassin and Nicolete,” from the medieval French verse-fable translated by Andrew Lang, which had scenery and costumes based on medieval manuscripts; “A Garden Wall,” a revue based on English ballads; “Iphigenia in Tauris,” with costumes inspired by Greek vases; “The Golden Cage,” based on the work by William Blake and with costumes and sets inspired by Blake’s watercolors; “A Midsummer Night’s Dream;” “The Tempest; “Nala and Damayanti from the Mahabharata of the Hindus,” based on Hindi religious texts and with costumes and sets based on Rajput paintings; “Kai Khosru: a Persian play;” and “The Rose and the Ring,” based on the work by William Makepeace Thackeray and with Victorian-inspired costumes. Additional processed materials include photographs of the King-Coit Theatre, as well as production programs and notes regarding the institution and its productions over time. The unprocessed materials include scripts and music from the King-Coit School and Children’s Theatre, as well as school administrative information and reviews.

Biographical / Historical

Dorothy Coit (1889-1976) and Edith King (1884-1975) began working together on children’s theatre productions while at the Buckingham School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1922, Coit and King relocated to New York City and opened their own arts school and children’s theatre in 1923. The King-Coit School and Children’s Theatre offered arts programs for children from five to twelve, and featured acting and dance classes led by Coit, and drawing and painting classes taught by King. The studies were aimed toward a theatrical production. Roles were not assigned until shortly before the performances, and children learned the entire script. Coit wrote any adaptations and directed all productions, while King designed the sets and costumes, often based on off historical manuscripts, books, and art. The plays would each run for a few weeks, and the plays were repeated over the three decades the King-Coit School and Children’s Theatre operated. The institution closed in 1959 when King retired due to health concerns, and Coit continued to teach occasional classes at other schools through the 1960s.


The photographs have been processed, and are arranged in alphabetical order by production, with administrative files, notes, and production programs following. The scripts and music have not been processed, and thus are not arranged.

Physical Location

pfd (P1.C1.03.01 - P1.C1.03.02 [Folders 1-10]), Harvard Depository

Custodial History

The majority of materials were deposited from Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, 1987 November 13, while one group of items was a gift of Ellen Rodman, 1979 December 28. This gift is noted in the file description. The materials from the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America were a gift of Dorothy Coit, 1969.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2009MT-50. Deposit from Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, 1987 November 13.

Related Materials

Additional related materials can be found in: King-Coit School and Children's Theatre Papers, *T-Mss 2002-014, Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Processing Information

The photographs and oversized materials were processed by Betts Coup, 2018. Scripts and music remains unprocessed.
Link to catalog
Coit, Dorothy. Dorothy Coit King-Coit School and Children's Theatre collection, circa 1922-1979 (MS Thr 1795): Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard University.
2018 May 09
Description rules
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.

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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