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M-122: Theater Program and Minnie Milne Collection

DATE: ca. 19th century - 20th century

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.

EXTENT: 13 boxes approximately 20 linear feet of items including approximately 1000 separate programs.

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.

ACCESS: This collection is available for on-site use only in the Rare Book and Manuscripts Reading Room. Some of the material in Special Collection M-122 may be photocopied, digitally scanned or photographed, subject to condition. For collections marked limited access, researchers are advised to contact the library at least three business days in advance of their visit to submit a request to view the physical material.


A finding aid is available for this collection:

M-122 Theater Program/Minnie Milne Collection (.rtf)

M-122 Theater Program/Minnie Milne Colleciton (.pdf)

Researchers are advised to call ahead concerning changes in hours due to University intersessions and holidays. The St. Louis Mercantile Library is located on levels one and two of the Thomas Jefferson Library building.

In observance of security procedures, certain services may not be available shortly before the daily closing time.

Preferred Citation: When citing the 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.