Morris Library's Special Collections Research Center documents theater's rapid evolution and burgeoning social impact with extensive collections of papers and photographs of Southern Illinois University faculty and their diverse associates in the entertainment industry. The Department of Theater at SIUC has been home to some of the most transformational dramatic artists of the twentieth century.
Revolutionary scene designers, producers, playwrights, and dancers inspire with courage manifest in their archived correspondence and diaries. The labor theater movement and Civil Rights activism are well represented in our archives by Herbert Marshall's Unity Theatre and Paul Robeson memorabilia, the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union records, the John Howard Lawson collection, the Katherine Dunham collection, and the Mordecai Gorelik collection.
Our archives also preserve the manuscripts and records of many critically acclaimed Irish writers, including William Butler Yeats. Cultivated by playwrights honoring the common man, the seeds of Irish independence flourished with the momentum of the Irish literary renaissance and their establishment of Dublin's Abbey Theatre.
Roles in theater production became more integrated during the past century as producers sought to drive social change by innovating techniques to engage working class audiences. Transcendent messages embedded in interactive scenery harmonized with the vision of playwrights, directors, and actors determined to connect with and fortify the heart of the people.
Collaboration likewise plays a valuable role at SIUC, as the Department of Theater, the University Museum, and Morris Library work together to provide an engaging and practical curriculum and fertile research opportunities for students and faculty.
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Anne Marie Hamilton-Brehm, Ph.D.