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Performing Arts Materials on Microfilm: Periodicals

Students of drama, theatre, televison, radio and motion pictures will find the Library catalog adequate for many of their needs, however they may be overlooking the tremendous resources available in the library's collections on microfilm, and microfiche.

Materials that are published on a periodic schedule -- newspapers, magazines and journals -- contain much valuable information on the performing arts.   This page highlights a few of the general and subject specific sources for research in periodicals, and also links to several of our electronic periodical indexes.

What can be found in the Press.

Newspapers contain both advertising and entertainment sections. The advertisements will show the dates and locations of performances and often list the major actors in the show. The entertainment section will include reviews of the performances and often biographical sketches of actors and actresses. There are also trade publications such as the Hollywood Reporter, The New York Clipper, and Variety which will report on the business of show business.

   Boston Commercial Gazette, May 16, 1822

Some highlights.

The Boston Public Library has roughly 3,000 Massachusetts newspaper titles on film, with the earliest, the Boston Newsletter, dating back to 1704.   We have papers for most Massachusetts towns, although not for all years.

On our electronic reference page we have links to databases to the Boston Globe, New York Times,and London Times, among others.

We have back-files of the [Boston] Ray, 1871-1885 (AN2.M4.B7613); the New York Clipper, 1853-1925 (PN2000.N55); Variety, 1905 +' (PN2000.V3); and the Hollywood Reporter, 1934-1998 (PN1993.H5).

The Alternative Press Collection & the Underground Press Collection contain underground papers from across the nation such as the Boston Phoenix, the Real Paper, and Boston After Dark, primarily from the 1960s and 1970s.

Large Periodical Collectons

As with newspapers, magazines will contain many articles on the theatre.

The American Periodicals Series includes images of the pages of American magazines and journals covering the colonial era to the early 20th century, some indexing is available on our electronic resources page in the "Index o Early American Periodicals." The series has been digitized by its publisher, Proquest, but the digital version is not available at the BPL.

A similar set is "English Literary Periodicals," which includes 341 titles published in Great Britain during the 17th, 18th, and 19th century. Some indexing is available on our electronic resources page in the "Index to English Literary Periodicals."

The "Early British Periodicals" microfilm set contains 160 periodicals dealing with literature, philosophy, history, science, the fine arts, and the social sciences, published primarily in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Indexes like the Reader's Guide Retrospective should also help in finding articles.

Theatre Collections

Periodical Indexes