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COLLECTION Identifier: TCS 43

Harvard Theatre Collection theatrical portrait prints (visual works)


Contains portrait prints of actors, directors, producers, theatre owners and managers, musicians, composers, conductors, and literary figures, as well as circus and side show performers, owners, and managers.


  • circa 1616-1930

Language of Materials

English, French, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish.

Conditions Governing Access

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


18.25 linear feet (6 boxes and 2429 folders)

Includes portrait prints of actors, directors, producers, theatre owners and managers, musicians, composers, conductors, and literary figures, as well as circus and side show performers, owners, and managers. A few portrait prints of royalty and members of high society and government are included. The prints tend to be be of theatrical figures from Great Britain, the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, and Spain, among other countries.While most of the prints are identified, some are not, or have questionable identifications marked with a question mark following the name.

Among those identified as subjects of the prints are: Marie Aimee, Marietta Alboni, Emilie Ambrogetti, Jeanne Sylvanie Arnould-Plessy, Johann Sebastian Bach, Peter F. Baker, P.T. (Phineas Taylor) Barnum, Elizabeth (Weichsel) Billington, Lionel Brough, Richard Cumberland, Edward Loomis Davenport, Fanny Davenport, William Davidge, Elizabeth (Farren) Derby, Andrew Ducrow, Edwin Forrest, David Garrick, Giulia Grisi, George Frederick Handel, Sir John Hare, Franz Joseph Haydn, Charles Kean, Edmund Kean, Fanny Kemble, Lily Langtry (Le Breton), the Majeronis, Anne Francoise-Hippolyte, Elizabeth Rachel Felix (known as Rachel), William Shakespeare, John A. Stevens, Ellen Terry, Denman Thompson, Tom Thumb, and Elizabether (Brunton) Yates, among many others.

Many of the prints are engravings, while there are also a considerable number of lithographs. A sizable portion of the collection appear to be late nineteenth century color lithograph posters, removed from a volume of theatrical figure portraits. A few portrait photographs have been included in this series as well.The prints were likely created for promotional or commemorative purposes for productions, shows, or figures, as well as for purposes of memorials following the deaths of celebrated individuals.

Biographical / Historical

The Harvard Theatre Collection was founded in 1901 through the efforts of Professor George Pierce Baker, and collects documentary materials pertaining to the history of the performing arts, including theatre, dance and ballet, and opera and musical theatre, among other areas.

Prints (visual works) are pictorial works produced by transferring images by means of a matrix such as a plate, block, or screen, using any of various printing processes.


Arranged in alphabetical order by the surname of the portrait subject.

Physical Location

b, pfd (P1.C3.01.01 - P1.C3.03.02 [Folders 1-1817], P1.C3.04.05 [Folders 2395-2414]), ppf (P1.C3.03.03 - P1.C3.04.04 [Folders 1818-2394])

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Various gifts and purchases at various dates. Known acquisition information is noted in the file descriptions.

Related Materials

See: Theatrical Portrait Prints (Visual Works) of Men (TCS 44) and Theatrical Portrait Prints (Visual Works) of Women (TCS 45). Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Processing Information

Processed by Betts Coup, 2018 December-2019 January.

Harvard Theatre Collection. Harvard Theatre Collection theatrical portrait prints (visual works), circa 1616-1930 (TCS 43): Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard University.
2018 December 20
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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