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Series VII: Photographs, 1915-1995

Call Number: YCAL MSS 436, Series VII

Scope and Contents

This series provides photographic documentation of Theatre Guild productions as well as business and social activities of its administrators, staff, affiliated artists, and others from 1919 to 1969. Most of the photographs are 8" x 10" black-and-white prints, but sizes and formats range from small snapshots to 15 1/2" x 20" portrait photographs. Also included are: color prints and slides, key sheets, and black-and-white negatives. While the majority of productions were photographed by Florence Vandamm/Vandamm Studio, numerous other photographers are represented in this series including Francis Bruguiere, Ben Pinchot, White Studio, Fred Fehl, Ira D. Schwartz, Nickolas Muray (Muray Studio), Latetin, Cosmo-Sileo Associates, Charlotte Fairchild, Graphic House, Inc., John Swope, Friedman-Abeles and many others.

The stage production photograph files are arranged in order of production, from the first season in 1919 to the fiftieth season in 1968. As the majority of these photographs are undated, the dates provided reflect the dates of the run of individual productions. With few exceptions, most productions are represented by at least several photographs. In addition to photographs of actors in various scenes, the files for a single production may include rehearsal photographs, publicity photographs, photographs of the playwright, director, and other company personnel, and, to a lesser extent, photographs of set and costume designs. Typed and handwritten captions accompany some of the photographs. Photographs with labels containing historical information and a number in the upper left-hand corner on the verso were used as illustrations for A Pictorial History of the Theatre Guild by Norman Nadel. Many photographs are mounted on cardboard so that the photographer’s stamp is covered; some labels on the recto of the mounts are misdated. Other mounted photographs with hand-colored borders appear to have been part of a 1953 exhibit celebrating thirty-five seasons of Theatre Guild productions. Photographs documenting Oklahoma! and Carousel include cast and production photographs from the original, touring, and subsequent New York productions and consist of various publicity,“off-stage,” and candid photographs. Other photographs documenting events related to specific productions may be found in the Events subseries. Photographs from Theatre Guild productions that toured but did not open in New York (1932-1947), several Theatre Guild-American Theatre Society productions (circa 1936-1951), non-theatre Guild productions including several productions by the Washington Square Players (1915-1917) and Westport Country Playhouse (1931-1957), and unidentified production photographs are filed following the Theatre Guild production photographs.

Photographs documenting the Theatre Guild American Repertory Company (1961) include production photographs, publicity photographs, and photographs of company members at events during their tour of Europe, South America, and the Middle East. The Theatre Guild’s activities in radio, television, and film production are documented by photographs that date from the 1940s to 1969. Actors, technicians, producers, and other staff are captured in the photographs of the Theatre Guild on the Air radio program and the Theatre Guild on the Air/United States Steel Hour television program. Theatre Guild Administration photographs date from circa 1922 to circa 1961 and include individual and group photographs of Theresa Helburn, Lawrence Langner, and Armina Marshall Langner; group photographs of the Board of Managers, and various staff members, and others. Also filed within this subseries are photographs of theaters in which Theatre Guild productions were performed; exterior views of the Westport Country Playhouse; photographic negatives of individuals, production, and candid photographs; and photographs of a “Russian Overseas Exhibit” on the Theatre Guild.

Celebrations, parties, and award ceremonies are documented by photographs in the Events subseries (circa 1940-1995), and include anniversary celebrations of the Theatre Guild as well as openings and anniversaries of Oklahoma!, a special show train from Connecticut to New York City for The Silver Whistle, and a Bells are Ringing cast party at the Langner’s Connecticut home. Also included are several group photographs of cast members from several Theatre at Sea cruises. The majority of the photographs within the “Personalities” (as labeled by the Theatre Guild) subseries (circa 1920s-1980s) are headshots and other photographs of actors, many (but not all) of whom performed in Theatre Guild productions. There are also photographs of playwrights, directors, designers, Theatre Guild staff, and other individuals. Photographs in this subseries are arranged alphabetically by name of sitter. Individuals represented by fewer than three photographs are filed in general alphabetical files; those represented by three or more photographs are filed by individual name. Cross references are provided for individuals photographed with others. Oversize Photographs consists of large photographs representing subjects from other subseries.


  • 1915-1995


Conditions Governing Access

From the Collection:

The materials are open for research.

Boxes 1267-1269, 1289-1292, 1303, 1319, and 1328-1333 are restricted pending preservation treatment.

Boxes 1483-1490 (audiovisual materials): Restricted fragile. Reference copies may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.

Art 1570-1572, 1599: Restricted fragile. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Box 1597: Restricted fragile. Reference surrogates have been substituted in the main files. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Broadside 1598: Restricted fragile. For further information consult the appropriate curator.


Series VII is organized into seven subseries: Stage Productions; Theatre Guild American Repertory Company; Radio, Television, and Film Productions; Theatre Guild Administration; Events; “Personalities”; and Oversize Photographs.


20 Linear Feet (60 boxes)

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English

Processing Information

Most of the photographs within this series came to the library in special file boxes labeled with printed silver paper labels, hand annotated with contents information. Due to the acid content of the boxes the material has been rehoused for preservation purposes; one of the original boxes has been retained. The ephemera and other material that formerly had been filed in the “silver boxes” with the photographs has been added to other series.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.