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COLLECTION — Multiple Containers Identifier: MS Thr 2040

Don B. Wilmeth collection on theater


Contains much of theater scholar Don B. Wilmeth's personal collection of theatrical materials, including autograph letters, playbills and posters, prints and a painting, and further ephemera, mostly dating from the nineteenth century.


  • circa 1800-1920

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. 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.


3.58 linear feet (14 boxes, 2 folders, and 1 framed item)
Contains much of theater scholar Don Wilmeth's personal collection of theatrical materials, including letters by Sarah Bernhard, Herny Erskine Johnston; a manuscript score; caricatures, prints, ephemera, and a collage; broadsides, posters, and playbills all relating to theatrical performances; and Shakespearean miscellany, including prints. Materials relate to theatrical figures including Thomas Abthorpe Cooper, Henry Irving, George Frederick Cooke, Edmund Kean, Ellen Terry, Bernhard, and Johnston, among others. Most of the materials dates from the nineteenth century.

Biographical / Historical

Don B. Wilmeth (1939-2020) was a theatrical scholar. He was the Asa Messer Professor Emeritus, Professor of Theatre and English Emertius, and the Honorary Curator of the H. Adrian Smith Collection of Conjuring Books and Magicana at Brown University. He was the chair of the Department of Theatre, Speech, and Dance at Brown from 1979-1987, 1998-2001 June. He published and edited numerous texts on theatrical topics, especially looking to the time of (and surrounding) the 19th century, and served as the President of the American Society for Theatre Research from 1991-1994 and Treasurer until 2020.


Materials have been minimally processed and have not been arranged.

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2020MT-97. Purchased with funds from Robert Gould Shaw Fund, 2020 January.

Separated Materials

A printed book purchased along with this material from Don Wilmeth's collection is also held at Houghton Library. Additional materials from Don Wilmeth's personal collection was sold to collectors other than the Harvard Theatre Collection at Skinner, Inc. in 2019 November.

Processing Information

Processed by Betts Coup, 2020.
Link to catalog
Wilmeth, Don B. Don B. Wilmeth collection on theater, circa 1800-1920 (MS Thr 2040): Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard University.
2020 February 24
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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