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HISTORY: Programs, broadsides, handbills and posters announcing and documenting stage performances in St. Louis were collected by the Mercantile Library at least since the mid-1850s, when the Library began to offer theatrical presentations in its own Mercantile Library Hall, a huge auditorium, which could seat over 2000 people in its day, becoming for a time a major stop on the circuit of many theatrical troupes, lecturers, and other performers. Over the years, through donation of scrapbooks and the acquisition of separates, the Library accumulated additional programs and other ephemera relating to the stage.
SCOPE: Mostly nineteenth-century to mid-twentieth-century pieces related to the American stage, in bound volumes, scrapbooks, and separates, with numerous local and regional pieces included, offering an overview of the early St. Louis stage. In recent years, significant holdings related to performances of the Municipal Opera have been added, as well as scrapbooks concerning the Boston theatre of the 1860s and 1870s, plus, as a sub-collection, the papers, diaries, photos and scrapbooks of a late-nineteenth-century actress based in upstate New York. This collection contains over a thousand separate programs from 96 St. Louis-area theaters, 144 New York theaters, and 56 theaters from other locations including foreign nations. It also includes oversize items of local interest, such as items from the 1914 Pageant and Masque of St. Louis and two scrapbooks filled with theater-related materials from a local resident. There are also two oversize scrapbooks, one filled with mid-19th century St. Louis theater playbills, and the other with mid-19th century Boston theater playbills.
Minnie Milne, offering a glimpse of a travelling actors' guild at the dawn of the motion picture age, with many references to famous actors of the day, such as Edwin Booth and Joseph Jefferson. This collection consists of scrapbooks, photos, programs, and ephemera relating to the turn-of-the-century actress, Minnie Milne and the theater world in upstate New York.
This collection is divided into two major series which are
Series 1: Theater
Series 1, contained in ten boxes and parts of one other box, is organized into seven subseries. Subseries 1 - Programs: St. Louis, holds programs from 96 St. Louis-area theaters, covering the years from 1852-1991. Subseries 2 - Programs: New York, holds programs from 144 New York theaters, covering the years from 1919-1992. Subseries 3 - Programs: Other Locations, holds programs from 56 theaters not from the St. Louis or New York areas, including programs from foreign countries, and covers the years 1900-1990. Subseries 4 - Unknown Theater, holds programs from unidentifiable theaters. Subseries 5 - Miscellaneous, . Subseries 6 - Oversize, holds oversize programs, albums, and scrapbooks. Subseries 7 - Oversize Scrapbook, holds two oversize scrapbooks.
Series 2: Minnie Milne
Series 2 consists of 4 subseries. Subseries 1 - Photos of Minnie Milne. Subseries 2 - Programs. Subseries 3 - Scrapbooks. Subseries 4 - Miscellaneous.
13 boxes approximately 20 linear feet of items including approximately 1000 separate programs.
Use Restrictions: Portions of the collection may be photocopied, digitally scanned, or photographed, depending on condition and restrictions.
Access Restrictions: Access to portions of this collection may be restricted depending on condition.
Please direct any questions regarding this collection to the Reading Room at the St. Louis Mercantile Library by contacting 314.516.7247.
Citation: When citing material from this collection, the preferred citation is: From the Special Collections of the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.