Skip to main content
Theater History Collections

The Philbrick Library is a research collection of books, manuscripts, costume designs, playbills, and art works on the history of English and American drama of the late 17th through the early 20th centuries, collected by Pomona College alumnus Dr. Norman D. Philbrick. It consists of over ten thousand books, pamphlets, and periodicals, two thousand letters by well-known individuals associated with the theater including David Garrick, Edmund Kean, members of the Kemble family, Sarah Siddons, and many others. The Philbrick Library is supported by an extensive collection of reference literature. Notable in the library is Ellen Terry-Henry Irving-Edward Gordon Craig material collected by Dr. Philbrick that comprises manuscripts, letters, drawings, photographs, scrapbooks, and annotated books, providing scholars with numerous sources for original research.

View online finding aid for the Norman D. Philbrick Working Files

The Philbrick Library Collection of Theater Letters has been digitized and is viewable online in the Claremont Colleges Digital Library.

Assembled by Elbert A. Wickes, theatrical impresario and manager of lecture tours for world celebrities such as Winston Churchill and William Butler Yeats, the collection brings together photographs and books (often inscribed to Wickes) of the celebrities whose tours he arranged, and papers relating to the Abbey Players of Dublin whose three American tours he produced and managed.

Kabuki theater plays, playbills, photographs and pen and ink drawings; scrapbooks with clippings; prints. Kinkaid wrote Kabuki, the popular stage of Japan (London, Macmillan, 1925). Donated by Pomona College professor of theater Leonard Pronko.

The collection includes printed matter, news clippings, and photographs relating to the Padua Hills Theatre and the Mexican Players: playbills and advertisement fliers for productions of the Mexican Players; photographs and postcards featuring the Padua Hills Theatre and members of the Mexican Players; Padua Hills News Notes newsletters; and several items promoting the Padua Hills residences and tract lots as investment opportunities. There are many gaps in years and not every production from the years listed is represented in the collection. The collection also includes news clippings from local newspapers about the theatre, Herman and Bess Garner, and the Mexican Players, as well as items about the restoration of the theatre and community events commemorating the theatre and its legacy. A recent donation of original artwork and designs by Milford Zornes for the Mexican Players’ programs provides more unique sources for research.

The Claremont Community Players scrapbook (1930-1934) and playbills from the Padua Hills Theater in Claremont describe amateur theater in Claremont at the height of its popularity. Photographs of casts and productions, programs, clippings, and minutes of meetings offer much detail about the workings of The Players and the place of theater in the community.

Theater Playbill Collections

Special Collections holds several collections of performing arts playbills and programs, generously donated to us by several individuals over the years. Most of the playbills are from the early to mid-20th century and document specific performances of dramatic and musical theater, dance, symphony, and concerts in Los Angeles, New York, London, and other regions and cities. The list below highlights just a few of the playbill collections.

Playbills from various American and British theatres, such as the Alvin, the Broadhurst, the National Theatre, the Mercury Theatre, and the Royal Opera House. A large proportion of these playbills come from New York City’s Broadway, but other cities such as Los Angeles, London, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Chicago are represented.

American and European theater, symphony, and opera programs from the 1940s-1980s collected by Sidney P. Albert, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, California State University–Los Angeles.

Collected by actor and director Robert Robinson, the collection comprises playbills and programs of American, British, and European theater, opera, symphony, and ballet performances; he collected most of the playbills during 1953-1984 when he lived and worked in London. During his career, Robinson directed plays and taught master classes in regional theatres and universities in Britain and the United States.

View online finding aid.

Bernard H. Craven (1905–1992), of Redlands, CA, amassed a collection of about 3,000 playbills from the United States and Europe. The playbills include drama, dance, music, and film productions from 1966–1987.