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Clippings at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts: Research strategies

A guide to finding clippings at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Guide by Bob Kosovsky.

Basic strategies for working with clippings

  • No folder should ever be thought of as being a complete collection of articles on a person or topic. Staff can assist you to find or suggest additional research paths.

  • Most articles will have clues suggesting paths for further research. Look for references to dates, names and organizations.

  • The clippings files are particularly rich with materials from the bulk of the 20th century.  Nevertheless, all of the divisions have been recipients of material that supplements their files, sometimes expanding coverage to the late 19th century.

Search strategies: multiple folders in different divisions

There may be clipping folders for some people or topics in multiple divisions.  Examples:

  • Judy Garland  - has folders in the Music, Recorded Sound and Theatre Divisions.  
  • Buddy Ebsen - has folders in both the Dance and Theatre Divisions.
  • Sammy Davis Jr. - has folders in the Dance, Music and Theatre Divisions.  

Don’t neglect the possibility that there may be clipping folders in more than one division.

Search strategies: theaters and venues

Most clippings concerning theaters have been collected and organized by the Billy Rose Theatre Division. Note that the spelling theatre (not theater) is used unless the words "theater" is part of the venue's official name. For most cities, the naming convention generally follows this formula:

Theatres – City – [name of theater].

 

Examples:

Theatres –  Austria – Staatsoper

Theatres –  New Orleans –  Lew Rose’s Winter Garden

Major exceptions to the above naming convention are Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Paris, France.  For American cities, a country qualifier (U.S.) is added, and Manhattan is called N.Y.:

Theatres –  U.S. – N.Y. – Century

Theatres –  U.S. – N.Y. – Bowery (Old)

Theatres –  U.S. – Brooklyn – Montauk

Theatres –  France: Paris – Theatre de l’Atelier

If a theater has changed names, there might be separate folders under each different name.

Non-standard names and subjects

Names and subjects in all the clipping files of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts have not been regularized according to Library of Congress cataloging rules (as is always done with books and other material appearing in the online catalog). Researchers should be open to searching for alternative (or unusual) forms of names or subjects.

At times one has to guess that there will be folders on a specific show or topic.  Clipping files sometimes may not adhere to formal naming strategies for subjects.  Some examples of informal or unexpected subject headings.  Examples:

  • Abbreviations and acronyms, musical  [folder in the Music Division]

  • Crime and Criminals  [folder in the Jerome Robbins Dance Division]

  • Theatres – Backstage – Parties  [folder in the Billy Rose Theatre Division]

 

Going beyond

If clippings do not satisfy your search for information, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts has unparalleled holdings of magazines and periodicals, as well as numerous databases of scanned newspapers and magazines.

Don’t hesitate to inquire at the reference desk to learn how to access these additional resources