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A conference in honor of the Philadelphia Playbills Project

Digital & Archival Approaches to Theater History

  • Schedule
Photo of Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet, Furness Theatrical Image Collection, Furness P/Be800.1 S, Kislak Center
Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet, Card photograph [1899?], Furness Theatrical Image Collection, P/Be800.1 S, Kislak Center

Thursday, January 17, and Friday, January 18

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The challenge of theatre and performance history has always been how to reconstruct and understand ephemeral events of a previous age. This conference addresses how scholars, librarians, archivists, and digital humanists take on this challenge in the 21st century as we look back at the materials in our archives that document past performances and look forward to the way new digital approaches can transform the we approach the study of theater history.


We are grateful for the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities 
for making this conference possible.

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  • Thursday, January 17

    5:30 - 6:45pm:
    Sarah Werner , Keynote Speaker
    Digital Ephemera of Theater History

    6:45 - 8:00pm:
    Conference reception  

  • Friday, January 18

    9:00-9:30 Registration, coffee, and snacks

    9:30-10:45 Session I

    Paul Ulrich, Society for Theater History Berlin
    Theatre Almanacs and Journals as Sources for Documenting German Theatre in the 19th Century

    Helice Koffler, The Shubert Archive
    The People Behind the Records: Launching the Early Employees Project

    10:45-11:00 Coffee Break

    11:00-12:15 Session II

    Doug Reside, New York Public Library
    Title TBA

    Matthew Wittmann, Houghton Library, Harvard
    Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Playbill

    Karin Suni, Free Library of Philadelphia
    From Card Catalog to Digital Database: The Philadelphia Play Index Project

    12:15 - 1:30 Lunch Break

    1:30-2:45 Session III 
    Pop up exhibit and discussion with materials, Lea Library

    2:45 - 3:00 Coffee Break

    3:00 - 4:15 Session IV

    Michael Gamer and Scott Enderle, English Department and Penn Libraries, University of Pennsylvania
    Title TBA

    Sarah Hovde, Folger Shakespeare Library
    How to catalog 100,000 playbills

    Laura Aydelotte, Kislak Center, University of Pennsylvania
    The Philadelphia Playbills Project Year One

    4:15 - 4:30 Final Remarks

    4:30 - 5:00 Wrap up and final exhibit viewing