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Belknap Playbills and Programs Collection

Identifier: ufplaybills

Scope and Content

The Theatre Playbill and Program Collection is the largest area of acquisition in the Belknap Collection for the Performing Arts with approximately 9500 individual play titles stored in 111 archival boxes. Each folder contains promotional and program ephemera for various productions (professional and amateur) dating from the late 18th century to the present. The collection continues to grow with new purchases and donations.

Each entry in the finding guide is listed alphabetically by title, followed by descriptive historical notes which include the names of playwrights, composers, lyricists, producers, directors, choreographers and a selection of the most prominent performers in the shows. Musical productions include a listing of song titles from each show. A date span of the productions found in each folder is included (For example, holdings for The Odd Couple in the Belknap Collection date from 1965 to 1980). If a folder contains a single production, the original theatre, city and the date of the opening is listed. Otherwise the description includes the phrase "Various productions" and the related production dates. Historical notes and popular culture trivia, relating to shows and performers, have been scattered throughout the finding guide (For example, "Jerry Lester - considered television's original late night host as the star of NBC's Broadway Open House" or "Away We Go was the original working title for Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma").

For the sake of consistency, the phrase "Book by..." has been used for both musicals and straight plays to indicate the playwright (Examples: Straight play - "Tea and Sympathy - Book by Robert Anderson" or Musical - "Jelly's Last Jam - Book by George C. Wolfe. Music by Jelly Roll Morton. Lyrics by Susan Birkenhead"). In other entries the promotional rhetoric from the program is used (Example: "The Impossible Years - 'The Wow Comedy about Dads and Daughters' by Bob Fisher and Arthur Marx"). If the same play title is used for totally different shows, the author of each offering is included in order to differentiate the plays (Examples: "Jane (By S.N. Behrman)" and "Jane (By H. Nicholls)"). If a show is represented, under the same title, as a straight play AND a musical this will also be noted (Example: The Liar). Play titles by William Shakespeare, Gilbert and Sullivan, various operas and operettas, etc. have been filed separately within individual Belknap Collections. This will be noted with each title (Example: "Hamlet - Filed with the Belknap Shakespeare Collection").

The finding guide may accessed by using CONTROL - F and entering a play title, a proper name, a song title, a key word, etc. Hopefully, the researcher or casual browser will find this informational tool valuable and entertaining. The major names from theatrical history are represented (Eugene Belasco, the Booth family, the Shubert Brothers, Cole Porter, Helen Hayes, etc.), but a few surprises are hidden within this list (Winston Churchill as playwright -The Crisis and performer - Caliban by the Yellow Sands, etc.). For further assistance, please contact Jim Liversidge, Curator for Popular Culture Collections in the Department of Special and Area Studies Collections. Telephone: (352) 273 - 2759. Email:


  • Creation: 1787-2011



The collection is open for research.


148 Linear feet (111 boxes)

Language of Materials



Theatre playbills and programs from the late 18th century to the present.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Related Material

A Guide to the Belknap Playbills and Programs Collection
Finding aid created by Jim Liversidge
June 2008
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America