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Music Division





Special Collections in Music
Special Collections in Dance
arrow graphicSpecial Collections in Theater
Other Special Collections and Primary Source Material



Special Collections in Theater
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Set design for Holiday (act 2). Philip Barry. ca. 1940. Peggy Clark Collection. Music Division.

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The work of Peggy Clark (1915-1996), one of the foremost lighting designers in the American theater, was seen in some of the best-known stage productions of the mid-twentieth century. She worked especially closely with the noted set designer Oliver Smith, creating the lighting for many of his shows and often putting his rough designs into final form to allow actual construction of the sets. Clark worked in all areas of theater: legitimate drama, musical comedy, dance, and opera. She became the first woman to be elected to the board of United Scenic Artists, the union for stage designers. Material in the Peggy Clark Collection (unprocessed, estimated up to 200 linear feet) includes lighting plots, color and black-and-white renderings, finished elevations, costume design sketches, and ground plans. Also in the collection are typescripts for plays, notebooks, clippings, photographs, scrapbooks, correspondence, posters, personal notebooks, and color and black-and-white renderings by set designer Oliver Smith.

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Hallie Flanagan, director of the WPA Federal Theatre Project. Photograph, ca. 1939. Federal Theatre Project Collection. Music Division.

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Part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Federal Theatre Project was intended to create jobs for unemployed professionals who were on the public relief rolls in the late 1930s. Women figured prominently among the actors, directors, playwrights, designers, vaudeville artists, stage technicians, and other theater workers who found work under the program, which at one time during its four-year existence employed more than twelve thousand people. The collection (522 linear feet, 43 file cabinets, approximately 525,000 items) contains production records for shows staged around the country, a sample of which may be seen on the American Memory Web site as The New Deal Stage: Selections from the “Federal Theatre Project,” 1935-1939. More than 2,500 play scripts may be found in this collection and approximately 2,000 radio scripts from the Federal Theatre Radio Division which include programs such as Women in the Making of America (1939) and The Women of the Day (1936). The administrative records of the Federal Theatre Project contain correspondence, memoranda, and briefings by Hallie Flanagan (1890-1969), national director of the project for its entire existence. A finding aid to the whole collection is available on the American Memory Web site accompanying the presentation The New Deal Stage.

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