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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Thr 1816

British prompt book and theatrical manuscript collection


Collection of chiefly British 17th-20th-century manuscript and printed prompt books assembled by Blackwell Rare Books.


  • circa 1680-2000

Language of Materials

English, German.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Collection is open for research.

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.


5.5 linear feet (12 boxes)

Collection of manuscript and sometimes heavily marked up printed editions of plays, most British but with a few American; many are copies published by Thomas Hailes Lacy or as Samuel French's Acting Editions.

Biographical / Historical

Prompt books are copies of plays used by a prompter, showing action of the play, cues, movements of actors, properties, costume, and plans for scenes and lighting. Often heavily annotated and used, they help to reconstruct the staging of plays.


Arranged chronologically.

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2018MT-137. Purchased from Blackwell Rare Books with funds from the Hatch and Sheldon funds, 2018 June.

Processing Information

Processed by Melanie Wisner, 2018.

Processing Information

Detailed description of items prepared by the dealer/collector; dealer catalog numbers are listed with items.

Processing Information

This finding aid was revised in 2022 to address racist descriptive language. During that revision, description was changed in the description of a single item; the derogatory term appears in a formal title and thus was not removed, but a contextual historical note as well as a processing information note explaining the term's presence were added to the item's description. If you have questions or comments about these revisions, please contact Houghton Library. For more information on reparative archival description at Harvard, see Harvard Library’s Statement on Harmful Language in Archival Description.

British prompt book collection and theatrical manuscript collection, 1680-2000 (MS Thr 1816): Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard University.
2018 June 18
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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