SOURCES AND RESOURCES
These are some books, articles, institutions or people who might be useful to those of us interested in historic stage scenery. Some groups are more focused on the buildings, especially opera houses, but you never know where there might be photographs or curtains in storage.
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if you know of any additions.
To start with, we might as well toot our own horn with our own articles, pamphlets and the book Suspended Worlds by Christine Hadsel, published by Godine Publishing in 2015. Suspended Worlds a visual appreciation of the variety of curtains found in VT, NH and ME. There is also information about artists and scenic studios in New England and a chapter "The Art of Scenic Art" by Peter Miller. The index lists every curtain we knew of at that date, whether its picture is in the book or not. The book can be ordered from Curtains Without Borders, Godine Press, or from any independent bookstore.
American Art Review published by American Arts Media, KS, Volume XVIII, No. 5, Sept-Oct 2006, and Volume XXVIII, No. 2, Mar-Apr, 2016.
Historical New Hampshire published by the New Hampshire Historical Society, Volume 66, No.1, Summer 2012.
Yankee Magazine, Sept-Oct 2016, "Each One is Worth Saving" by Ian Aldrich, pp.125-127.
Scenic Artists in Vermont by Christine Hadsel & Wylie Garcia, a booklet produced by Curtains Without Borders in 2012.
Scenic Artists in New Hampshire by Judith Kushner & Christine Hadsel, a booklet produced by Curtains Without Borders in 2011.
Behind the Scenes: The Legacy of Colorado's Historic Stage Curtains, a booklet produced in collaboration between Colorado Preservation, Inc. and Curtains Without Borders, 2016.
Vermont Life Magazine, Winter 2002-2003, "Art By The Yard: Vermont's Painted Theatre Curtains" by Michael Sherman.
Theatre Museum of Repertoire Americana, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.
The Museum is dedicated to the preservation of memorabilia and artifacts of early repertoire theatre. The collection includes numerous painted curtains and scenic pieces; costumes and equipment used by individual performers and technicians; playbills, show cards, advertising sheets, etc.; and an extensive research library of rare scripts, correspondence, tour schedules, production photos and other original source materials. Of special interest is the large collection of videotaped interviews with actual “troupers” describing their professional and personal experiences.
Theatre Historical Society of America
152 North York Rd
Elmhurst, IL 60126
The organization strives to preserve the architectural, social, and cultural past of American theatres. The archival collection contains information on over 18,000 theatres across the country with holdings dating back to the late 1800s. Made up of photographic prints, operational records, blueprints, photo negatives and slides, programs, books, artifacts, newspaper clippings, artwork, and magazines, the collection represents the largest public collection of material documenting movie theatre architecture in America.
Ohio State University/Theatre Research Institute
119 Thompson Library
1858 Neil Avenue Mall
Columbus, OH 43210
The Lawrence and Lee Research Institute has design and technical theater collections, personal papers and organizational archives. They also offer a visiting fellowship.
Kansas Preservation Alliance
League of Historic American Theatres based in Forest Hill, MD, is a professional network dedicated to sustaining America's historic theaters for the benefit of their communities and future generations. Their membership includes 380 historic theatres. They sponsor national and regional conferences, as well as an awards program.
The Friends of Gillespie County Country Schools, Fredericksburg, TX, is an association of historic one-room schools, many of which have an advertising curtain. They provide a nice driving trail pamphlet.
In Europe, the Association of Historic Theatres in Europe connects people who are interested in historic theatres. They support the preservation, restoration, and adequate use of as well as research into their common European cultural heritage. They have devised routes for people to follow to visit historic theatres.
Wendy Waszut-Barrett specializes in the evaluation, restoration, and replication of painted scenes for the theatre, opera, ethnic hall, and Masonic stage. Wendy knows a great deal about Masonic scenery and the scenic studios that produced it. She restores, documents and consults with Masonic Lodges, opera houses and ethnic groups such as the Czech and Slovak Ethnic Hall in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her business, which includes all aspects of historic stage craft is Historic Stage Services She also has a blog about her work and the sites she visits at and she is working on a book about Thomas Moses and Sosman & Landis Scenic Company.
Theatre of the Fraternity 1896-1929, University of Mississippi Press, 1996, is a companion catalogue to an exhibition that was organized by the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota. The catalogue and exhibition were curated by Lance Brockman. It is a wealth of information about Masonic scenery, much of which was produced by a large studios that also produced scenery for opera houses across the country.
The Twin City Scenic Collection is another catalogue that accompanied an exhibit at the University of Minnesota curated by Lance Brockman. Twin City Scenic Company was at one time the largest studio in the country.
America's Forgotten Folk Arts by Fred & Mary Fried, Pantheon Books, NY, 1978. There is a substantial piece based on a conversation with the daughter of Vermont's most important scenic artists - pp.120-124.
There are lots of out-of-print books about scenic art. The most respected current "bible" is Scenic Art for the Theatre: History, Tools, and Techniques by Susan Crabtree & Peter Beudert, published by Butterworth-Heinemann, 1998.
There are numerous books documenting opera houses. Their focus tends to be on architecture and interior decoration rather than scenery, but remember that originally every opera house had its own house scenery that might still be there. Some of the opera house books are:
Opera Houses of the Midwest published by the Mid America Theatre Conference, 1988
Great Opera Houses in America by Karyl Lynn Zietz, a National Trust Guide published by John Wiley and Sons, 1966
The Opera Houses of Iowa by George Glenn & Richard Poole, Iowa State University Press, 1993
Encore! The Renaissance of Wisconsin Opera Houses by Brian Leahy Doyle, Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2009
Kansas Opera Houses, Actors and Community Events 1855-1925 by Jane Glotfelty Rhoads, Mennonite Press, Newton, KS, 2008
Coal and Culture, Opera Houses in Appalachia by William F. Condee, Ohio University Press, 2005.
Show Town: Theater and Culture in the Pacific Northwest 1890-1920 by Holly George, 2016
Any issues you can find of The Painter's Journal edited by Anthony Phelps or The Palimpsest published by the State Historical Society of Iowa. Unfortunately, both publications have been discontinued