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American Women: Resources from the Performing Arts Collections

Theater Collections

This page features theater collections that document the career of prominent women artists as well as material that pertains to women's history.

Peggy Clark, artist. Set design for Holiday (act 2) by Philip Barry. ca. 1940. Peggy Clark Collection. Library of Congress Music Division.

Peggy Clark

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. Material in the Peggy Clark Collection 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.

Florence Klotz

Florence Klotz was an American costume designer best known for her work on Broadway musical collaborations with composer Stephen Sondheim and director Harold (Hal) Prince, including Follies 1971), A Little Night Music (1973), and Pacific Overtures (1976). The collection contains finished costume designs, sketches, fabric samples, and other materials for five musicals and one film adaptation.

Federal Theater Project

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 contains production records for shows staged around the country, a sample of which may be seen in the online collection. 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.