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Theatre History collection

Identifier: BUSC-2007-005


These items were primarily assembled between 1962 and 1995 by members of the Binghamton University Theatre Department. The main focus of this collection is theater but there are also materials relating to motion pictures, music and dance. Included are scrapbooks, programs, photographs, and ephemera such as tickets and broadsides.


  • 1860 - 2002

Historical Note

Originally housed in the Binghamton University Theatre Department, these materials were transfered to Special Collections beginning in 2007 with the assistance of Professor Allan Jackson.

These items were primarily assembled between 1962 and 1995 by Don Watters (Theatre Department Chair 1962-1968), Alfred Brooks (Theatre Department Chair 1967-1981) and Allan Stuart Jackson (Curator of the collection 1968-2005). These three faculty members began acquisition of research materials as a part of the creation of a theatre department beginning in the autumn term of 1965. It was decided to center the collection on the period from approximately 1870 through the 1960s.

By 1969 a sizable research collection had been established. It consisted of the Max Reinhardt Archives (now in the library's Special Collections), the Peter Wexler papers (now in the library's Special Collections), the Adams Stone Collection (see information in separate note), the Fish Collection (see information in separate note), as well as other acquisitions acquired by Watters, Brooks and Jackson.

The majority of the collection was acquired between 1964 and 1970. After 1970, budget limitations curtailed further acquisitions with the exceptions of gifts and the continuation of acquisition of library books and periodicals.

Fish Collection

A portion of this collection was created by William R. Fish (b. 1850) and his son, Erving Mead Fish (1880 - 1962). According to documentation provided by the Theatre Department, the Fish portion mainly consists of letters, photographs, theatrical scrapbooks, and programs.

Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, William Fish worked as a surveyor in Boston until the late 1800s, when he moved with his family to Brooklyn and opened an advertising business for theatre programs and window displays using lithographs for illustrations. In 1900, Erving Fish joined his father's business handling photogravure and gelatine prints. Since there were no theatrical agencies at the time, actors would often come to his office seeking jobs, and he handled publicity for actors until 1907.

In 1907 the theatre began to decline somewhat due to the arrival of motion pictures. Erving Fish sold his business a few years later and began training men for military service in anticipation of WWI. During this period, he organized and ran Camp Anthony Wayne in Pike County, Pennsylvania. He sold this business in 1933 and, at the beginning of WWII, joined the Wright aeronautic company and built B-29s until the end of the war. Later, as a trained radio speaker he broadcast for four years over WEAI and WJZ, educating the public on camping and outdoor life.

In 1947 he moved with his wife to Florida and worked in real estate until his death in 1962.

Adams-Stone Collection

A portion of this collection, mainly scrapbooks, was begun by Ada Gertrude Harrison Adams (1852 - 1930), who was born in Ohio, then passed to her daughter, Edith Adams Stone [Mrs. Walter King Stone] (1879 - 1971). Edith Adams was born in Washington, DC on September 29, 1879; she died in Ithaca, New York on April 25, 1971.

Edith Adams Stone made her own scrapbooks from additional programs she got from her mother and from shows she herself attended. She assembled a collection of plays and theatrical biography sent to the library. She also collected photos, postcards, silk programs, souvenirs, some letters, and cinema scrapbooks.

Edith was married to Walter King Stone (1875 - 1949), an American artist and illustrator and a professor of fine arts at Cornell University from 1920 to 1943. The Stones were known for their “Thursday Night Salons,” at which notable artists would assemble. Guest registers for the salons and a collection of Walter Stone's papers and artworks are at The American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming.

A note at the beginning of the first Adams-Stone scrapbook (now Box 84, Folder 1) reads "My mother, Ada Gertrude (Harrison) Adams was born in July 1852 and died in March 1930. After her death these programs came to me, incomplete, many of the early ones destroyed and I have assembled them as well as I could adding further illustrations to those already there. Edith Adams Stone, September 7, 1953."


100 Linear Feet

Language of Materials







Custodial History

Originally housed in the Binghamton University Theatre Department, these materials were transfered to Special Collections beginning in 2007 with the assistance of Professor Allan Jackson.

Separated Materials

Many books and other materials from this collection have been cataloged separately and are available through the library's online catalog. These are browsable via this search. To use these materials, please email

Processing Information

Many of the folders in this collection have similar titles. Every effort has been made to supply detailed information for each folder to better describe the contents. Much additional material remains to be processed as of September 2023; if you have questions, please contact

Guide to the Theatre History collection
Jean Green (Special Collections Librarian)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Binghamton University Libraries Special Collections Repository

Binghamton NY 13902 USA