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Belknap Theatre Broadside Collection

Identifier: ufbroadsides

Scope and Content

The collection contains 1,184 broadsides advertising theatrical performances in the United States and Great Britain. The broadsides are single sheets, and typically one sided. The bulk of the broadsides are from the 19th century, with very few from the early 20th century. They have been arranged roughly by size (small, medium, large and extra-large) and then filed alphabetically, by the title of the most prominent production on each broadside, within 10 folders. The final folder in the collection includes extra-large items, as well as broadsides that were found later in the organizational process that could not be easily integrated with those already organized and labeled.

Each individual broadside has a description. The description generally contains the title of the major production advertised, the measurements of the broadside, and the year of the performance, if noted. The name of the venue where the performance takes place and geographical information is included when it is evident. In many cases the broadsides were advertising whole programs that included multiple productions; the titles of these additional plays are often included in the description. Also included in the description are any performers who have been clearly marked as headlining in the respective performances.


  • Creation: 1813-1911



The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

The Belknap Theatre Broadside Collection forms part of the Belknap Collection for the Performing Arts. Originally founded as a dance archive, in 1953, the Belknap Collection has expanded through purchases and donations to include other areas of popular culture, including theatre, cinema, and music. This particular collection of broadsides was acquired during the tenure of Sara Yancey Belknap, purchased from the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in 1962.


10 Folders; 1,184 broadsides

Language of Materials



Theatre broadsides for performances in the United States and Great Britain.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

The broadside collection was purchased in 1962, along with assorted photographs, cabinet cards and programs (housed in other areas of the Belknap Collection), as a surplus purchase from the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota.

Related Material

Additional ephemera (Photographs and cabinet cards) from the 1962 Ringling Museum purchase may be accessed here.

Processing Notes

The broadsides have been encapsulated in Mylar for preservation purposes and housed in a flat metal map/poster cabinet (10 drawers).

A Guide to the Belknap Theatre Broadside Collection
Finding aid created by Steve Hersh
April 2017
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