Film, Theater and Dance

Collection Area

Performing Arts


Performing arts have always held an important place in the life of the College, even before the development of academic departments concerned with theatre or film. Plays were performed on campus before the turn of the century, and the Dartmouth Players had a reputation well beyond New England for the quality of its performances; The Dartmouth Film Society, celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in 1999, was one of the earliest on a college campus, and it too gained national renown. Many Dartmouth alumni have achieved distinction in the film industry and the professional theatre.

This statement concerns collection scope for the Departments of Theater and Film and Media Studies. The Theater Department was created in 1968-1969; previously, courses in theatre and drama were offered in the departments of comparative literature, English, and other literatures. Film Studies was formerly a program, offering a major, within the Theater Department; in the academic year 1992-1993, Film Studies became a separate department, eventually becoming Film and Media Studies in 2010.

General Purpose

The collection supports the undergraduate curriculum and faculty research. Emphasis is on Western performing arts from antiquity to the present, although there is increasing interest in non-Western material.

Dartmouth College Program

Courses in both departments--Theater and Film and Media--are concerned with criticism and theory; courses in theatre and film history, stage practice, and filmmaking are covered in the respective departments. Technical courses support an active program of stage performance and film production.

Courses in dance are offered in the Theater department; the study of television is becoming an increasingly important part of Film and Media Studies course offerings. Faculty publications include not only critical and historical works but original plays as well, and the Theater Department offers a foreign-study sequence in London. Students are encouraged to take courses in English and foreign languages, comparative literature, and classics. Collection criteria for drama as literature are considered in policy statements for literature and languages.

General Subject Boundaries

Most works on theatre and film, including screenplays, are in Baker, primarily in the PN and 809 classifications.  Plays are shelved with other literature in English and other languages. New editions and new works by established playwrights are usually acquired by the bibliographers in the relevant literatures; the theater bibliographer is generally responsible for obtaining works by new and unknown playwrights.

Although most works in the TR classification (photography) class in the Art Library, cinematography (TR 840-899) classes in Baker.

To support the courses in dance, the Library acquires important works on the history and development of dance (GV) and biographies of major performers and choreographers. Technical works on dance skills have not previously been extensively collected, but we do acquire important works in this area. Material on dance and dance music in world cultures is ordinarily the responsibility of the anthropology bibliographer; materials on dance in general are covered by the music bibliographer.

There are some areas of interest to both the performing arts and anthropology bibliographers. Costume and the history of fashion and dress (GT and some T classifications) are of interest to stage designers; works on fashion design and theatre architecture in the N classification are housed in Sherman. Documentary film is related to visual anthropology, which is usually the responsibility of the anthropology bibliographer.

Languages and Geographic Area

Works on the history and technical aspects of theatre and film, and dramatic and film criticism, are collected mainly in English; there are strong holdings in Western European languages. The study of film has become increasingly important in several departments of literature and languages. Original plays are collected in English, Western European, and other languages; English translations of important dramatic works are collected when available. Increasing interest in African and other Third World literature has led to greater effort to collect original works by and about non-Western dramatists and filmmakers.

Types Of Material Collected

Materials collected include plays in separate editions and anthologies; monographs on theatre and film criticism, history, theory, and technique; periodicals (which frequently publish scripts unavailable in other formats); and indexes, abstracts, encyclopedias, bibliographies, and other reference sources.

Format Of Materials Collected

Most material is in print format, and most current periodicals are collected as e-journals. Because of the value of the illustrations in these periodicals, the printed volumes are usually retained.  A growing collection of performances on DVD is located in the Jones Media Center, and the Library has access to many recordings of performances on streaming video. The Jones Media Center also has an extensive collection of feature films and documentary films on DVD, as well as streaming video.

Special Collections and Manuscripts

The Williams/Watson Theatre Collection includes playbills, scrapbooks, clippings, set and costume designs and other Dartmouth Players material, and a large number of individual plays. The Thalberg Collection of film scripts and many other manuscript and non-print items are also housed in Special Collections. Collecting scope is considered in that department's policy statement. A collection of Spanish plays, administered by the Access Services Department, is shelved in the Treasure Room.

Other Collection Policies Of Interest

Revision History

February 1992 (Lois A. Krieger)
March 1993 (Lois A. Krieger)
June 1999 (Lois A. Krieger)

November 2016 (John C. DeSantis)

LC Class



John C. DeSantis