chao chen, research librarian  

by Chao Chen, Research Librarian | 617.627.2057 | Home
Tisch Library, Tufts University


Research Sources for Graduate Students in Drama



Search the Catalog for Primary Sources

1. Here are some sample materials in the Tisch collections:


The London Stage, 1660-1800; a Calendar of Plays, Entertainments & Afterpieces, Together with Casts, Box-Receipts and Contemporary Comment. Compiled from the Playbills, Newspapers and Theatrical Diaries of the Period.


Strange Feats & Clever Turns: Remarkable Speciality Acts in Variety Vaudeville and Sideshows at the Turn of the 20th Century as Seen by Their Contemporaries / complied by Charlie Holand.


Edwin C. Bolles Collection (Tisch Special Collections [Bolles])
(The collection includes many rare books, maps and prints.)


2. Search the Catalog with the keyword "sources" for primary sources at Tisch:

Theater -- Great Britain -- History -- 18th century -- Sources.

Theater and England and Sources and 18th

Theater -- France -- History -- Sources.

Theater -- Germany -- History -- Sources.

Theater and Germany and Sources and 18th


Sample Titles:

A Sourcebook on Naturalist Theatre. / edited and introduced by Christopher Innes.

"This sourcebook contains a wide variety of different kinds of document. There are the theorectical writings and statements of principle. There is the materials surrounding the composition, original production, and reception of each play – both written and visual."

A Sourcebook on Feminist Theatre and Performance: On and Beyond the Stage. / edited by Carol Martin; with an introduction by Jill Dolan.

August Wilson: a Research and Production Sourcebook. / Yvonne Shafer.


More sample searches


Theater programs

Theatrical posters


(promptbook* or prompt book*) and shakespeare

"Early English Text Society" and (play* or drama*)


3. Search the Tufts Libraries Catalog by a Play and Find Primary Sources:

e.g.,           ("george Barnwell" or "london merchant") and lillo

Sample findings:

The British theatre: or, A collection of plays, which are acted at the Theatres Royal, Drury Lane, Covent Garden, and Haymarket... With biographical and critical remarks, by Mrs. Inchbald... London, Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, 1808.


Worcester Dramatic Museum. ... 17th week of the second season. ... Jan. 21st, [1853] ... (One of many historical playbills.)


British theatre. [London: J. Bell, 1791-1797.]
140 plays, issued separately, each with special title-page, engraved general title-page, representing a scene from the play, and front. showing an actor in a leading part. Most of the plays are preceded by biographical sketches of the authors, criticism of the play, etc. and dramatis personae, giving the names of the players.


The London apprentice; or, The melancholy history of George Barnwell: showing the evil effects of bad company; with the untimely end and execution of this deluded young man, who was induced by an infamous prostitute, named Mary Millwood, to rob his master and murder his uncle. (a chapbook/pamphlet)


Covent Garden prompt books, [1710-1824].

Search the Tufts Libraries Catalog by a Playwright and Find Primary Sources (or leads to primary sources):

Williams, Tennessee, 1911 - 9183 (last name first)
-- Correspondence.
-- Dramatic Production.
-- Interviews.
-- Stage History.
-- Streetcar Named Desire

Finding a Play

American Drama, 1714-1915   Containing more than 1,500 dramatic works from the early eighteenth century up to the beginning of the twentieth; plays in verse, farces, melodramas, minstrel shows, realist plays, frontier plays, temperance dialogues and a range of other genres are represented. Major dramatists include David Belasco, Rachel Crothers, Augustin Daly, Clyde Fitch, Edward Harrigan, James Herne, William Dean Howells and Joaquin Miller.


Twentieth Century North American Drama   Full texts of 1,900 plays from the United States and Canada, of which 1,250 are in copyright and licensed from the authors or their estates.

Play Index (find where a play is published -- in a collection, magazine, etc.)

The Best Plays (1899 – present). Stacks: PN2266.A2 B4

Contents of the annual volumes vary somewhat but include such sections as: 1. digests with critical comment on selected plays of the year; 2. title list of plays produced in New York during the year, giving for each: title, author, number of performances, theater, cast of characters, and brief outline of plot; 3. plays produced outside of New York; 4. Shakespeare festivals; 5. statistics of runs. 6. list of actors; 7. prizes and awards, and 8. index.

Play Index. 1949-02. Ref. Z5781 .p53 (the index in print)

I. Author, title, and subject index; II. Cast analysis; III. List of collections indexed.

The Drama Scholars' Index to Plays and Filmscripts: a Guide to Plays and Filmscripts in Selected Anthologies, Series, and Periodicals (1974-1980). Ref. Z5781 .S17

Annual Magazine Subject-Index, including as part II, the Dramatic Index. (1909-1949) Ref. PN1655 .D67


More Primary Texts

1. E-Texts

Eighteenth Century Collections Online  (1701-1800)

Eighteenth-Century E-Texts maintained by Jack Lynch of Rutgers

Nineteenth Century Collections Online

Afro-Americana Imprints 1535-1922

European Views of the Americas: 1493-1750

John Johnson Collection:  An Archive of Printed Ephemera (includes historical playbills)

Early English Books Online  (1473-1700)

The Making of the Modern World (books from the 1460-1850)


Early American Imprints (1693 -1819)

Early American Imprints II

American Broadsides and Ephemera  (1760-1900)

Making of America: 19th c. books and magazines.


Gerritsen Collection  late 19th century -     .  

Women Writers Online ( - 1850)


Editions & Adaptations of Shakespeare

Electronic facsimile of the First Folio


Monumenta Germaniae Historica  
A comprehensive collection of sources in German history from about CE 500 to 1500.

French Women Writers

ARTFL (classical French writings, including literary works, political tracts, philosophical writings, and technical treatises.)

Gallica (The catalog of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Gallica includes full-text and page-images of hundreds of thousands of volumes from the Middle Ages to the beginning of the twentieth century, with an emphasis on nineteenth-century material.)

The British Library

2. Collections and Web Sites

The American Antiquarian Society (AAS) Library
Houses the largest and most accessible collection of printed materials from first contact through 1876 in what is now the United States, the West Indies and parts of Canada.

Archive Finder(Information about primary source materials from U.S. manuscript repositories)

ArchiveGrid(a database of archival collection descriptions)

Harvard Theatre Collection

Voice of the Shuttle: Drama, Theater, & Performance Art Studies

The Worldwide Wide Web Virtual Library: Theatre and Drama

Playbill On-line

College Theatre Guide -- Association for Theatre in Higher Education

Library of Congress Performing Arts Encyclopedia


3. Historical Newspapers and Periodicals

New York Times Online Archive
(1851 - 3 years before current date)

Ethnic NewsWatch

African American Newspapers - 19th Century
American Newspapers (1690 - 1922)
Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers (1860-1922)

Latin American Newspapers Series 1, 1805-1922 (45 titles)
Latin American Newspapers Series 2, 1822-1922 (250 additional titles)

African Newspapers, 1800-1922

East European Newspapers, 1835-1922

South Asian Newspapers, 1864-1922


Art Index Retrospective   (1929- 1982)

Readers' Guide Retrospective (1890-1982)

American Periodicals (1740 - 1940)

Some of the oldest continuously published magazines in America, including American Spectator, Commentary, Commonweal, Dissent, Harpers Magazine, NACLA, The Nation, The National Review, The New Republic, New York Review, and The New Yorker.

British Periodicals in the Creative Arts
British Periodicals (1680s - 1930s)
British Humanities Index (1962- )
Times Digital Archive  (1785 - 1985)
17th and 18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers (British)


I. Background Information

Dictionary of Literary Biography

The Oxford Dictionary of Plays

The Cambridge Guide to Theatre

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre & Performance

II. Books & Other Types of Documents

A. Use Library Catalogs to find books and other types of Documents

1. Tufts Libraries Catalog


2. BLC WorldCat (beyond Tufts)


3. North American Theatre Online   Aims to cover Colonial times to the present. Contains hundreds of thousands of bibliographic records: authors, plays, theatres, productions, production companies, casts, and related information. Also, tens of thousands of playbills, posters, photographs, and related theatrical ephemera. Including Annals of the New York Stage.


4. Gallica (The catalog of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Gallica includes full-text and page-images of hundreds of thousands of volumes from the Middle Ages to the beginning of the twentieth century, with an emphasis on nineteenth-century material.)


5. The British Library


6. Internet Archive (digital editions of out-of-copyright books, generally pre-1923.)


7. Hathi Trust (a partnership of major research institutions and libraries)


8. Google Books
Digital editions of out-of-copyright books, generally pre-1923, and previews of books in copyright.

Sample search on a playwright and his/her Works in the Catalog:

Primary Sources (or leads to primary sources)

Williams, Tennessee, 1911 - 9183 (last name first)

-- Correspondence

-- Dramatic Production.

-- Interviews.

-- Stage History.

-- Streetcar Named Desire

Secondary Sources

Williams, Tennessee, 1911 - 9183 (last name first)

-- Bibliography.

-- Criticism And Interpretation.

-- Film And Video Adaptations.

place your topic in a larger context:

“Southern states” and (playwright or drama*)


III. Subject Databases for Journal Articles:

1 & 2. JSTOR and Project Muse


JSTOR is a favorite with its full texts in core journals of all disciplines. Project Muse does not include exactly the same JSTOR journals, but it has more recent and current articles on many topics.

2. Academic OneFile

All subjects; a convenient Quick Start. Here are some sample findings.)

3. MLA (for drama criticism & theatre history)

4. History


America: History and Life  

Historical Abstracts (non-U.S.)

African American Periodicals, 1825-1995


5. Period Studies:


International Medieval Bibliography (400-1500).

Iter: Gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance (400 -1700).

6. Performing Arts


Film & Television Literature Index

International Index to the Performing Arts IIPA

Communication & Mass Media Complete  

7. Area Studies



Bibliography of Asian Studies

Index Islamicus

PRISMA (Latin American Studies)

Slavic and East European Studies  

8. More Subjects


Anthropology Plus

ARTbibliographies Modern


Women's Studies International


9. When use GoogleScholar, set your Library Links to access Tufts full texts.


Sample searches for journal articles:

Find "Literature Review" Articles

Reviews of recent books and other types of review articles in major art history journals are likely to summarize the current state of research in an area.


Leigh Clemons. "The Swastika and the Stage: German Theatre and Society, 1933–1945 (review)." Theatre Journal 62.2 (May 2010): 310-311.

Megan Evans. "The Eternal Present of the Past: Illustration, Theater, and Reading in the Wanli Period, 1573–1619 (review)." Asian Theatre Journal 26.1 (2009): 176-179.

More sources for reviews:

The Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory (1996-current)


H-Net Reviews in the Humanities and Social Sciences (1994- )

Find More Articles like this "perfect" one


Search, in Arts and Humanities Citation Index, for the article you have read. For example the article in your syllabus:

For example:

Barnett, David. "When is a Play not a Drama? Two Examples of Postdramatic Theatre Texts ." New Theatre Quarterly 24: 93 (2008), 14-23.
References: 15 Times Cited: 2

You can, then, look up, in the record, the 15 references that Barnett cited for his article and, in turn, 2 articles (so far) that cited his. The assumption is that these articles address related issues.


1. Not every single article is cited;
2. Influential authors are cited more often;
3. More recent publications take time to be cited.

Popular Press

Book, Movie, Music, Play, And Video Reviews (in LexisNexis)

Factiva (more international coverage)

Theater Reviews (in pirnt)

New York Theatre Critics' Reviews. (1944 to 1994) Ref. PN1601 .N4
(Continued by National Theatre Critics Reviews. Ref. PN 2000 .N3)

Theatre Record 1985- . (British; bound Periodicals PN2596 .L6 L66)

Collections of critic's reviews would be good sources for productions in the past or in other countries.

Sample titles in the Tufts Libraries Catalog:

Bigger, brighter, louder: 150 years of Chicago theater as seen by Chicago Tribune critics / Chris Jones.

One night stands: a critic's view of modern British theatre / Michael Billington.


The collected works of Harold Clurman: six decades of commentary on theatre, dance, music, film, arts, and letters / edited by Marjorie Loggia and Gleen Young; introduction by Robert Whitehead.


Sample searches:

Performing arts -- United States -- reviews

Theater –England—London-- reviews

Theater –Illinois—Chicago—reviews

Theater – New York (State) – New York – Reviews

Monthly New Acquisitions in Tisch




Good Starting point for the Word of the Week assignment.   For the Journal Review assignment:

JStor and Project Muse would be a good place to get started.


Master's theses and Ph.D. dissertations at Tisch Library:

To search by topic, author, advisor or title, use this search form.

To browse by department, follow this link, Tufts University. Dept. of Drama and Dance


Dissertations & Theses@Tufts (full text)


Dissertations & Theses: Full Text (beyond Tufts)

Most Tufts Ph.D. dissertations issued after 1996; most Tufts master’s theses issued after 2005

Dissertations and theses worldwide; over 2 million titles; more than 930,000 are available in PDF format


DART - Europe E-theses portal    

History Online (The Institute of Historical Research, University of London)

**Information about submitting your dissertation or thesis to Tufts' Digital Collections and Archives.

**Requested dissertations through Interlibrary Loan, when full tex is not available

Please use the Form for routine purchase request:




Christopher Barbour

  Christopher Barbour
Humanities Bibliographer & Coordinator of Special Collections

Tel: 617-627-2398

Profile & Guides





Ambrose Video  

A collection of 494 video clips and full programs of award-winning Streaming education materials, in social studies, literature, fine arts and the sciences. (including BBC Shakespeare Plays.)


Dance in Video


Opera in video


Digital Theatre

The Digital Theater works with Britain's leading theatre companies "to capture live performance authentically onscreen."



Global Performing Arts Database

A trove of "detailed, multilingual descriptions of digital images, texts, video clips, sound recordings, and complex media objects related to the performing arts around the world."


Pressional Organizations


American Society for Theatre Research




last updated: 9/9/2015