The Historical Society of Pennsylvania collection of Academy of Music programs, playbills, and scrapbooks
The Academy of Music materials span from the organization's founding in 1857 to 1972 and are housed in one hundred and thirty-one boxes, seventeen volumes, and six flat files. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania's staff assembled the collection gradually from materials that were received from mul... Full description
|Collection Information:||The Historical Society of Pennsylvania Collection of Academy of Music Programs, Playbills, and Scrapbooks (#3150)|
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|Corporate Author:||Historical Society of Pennsylvania|
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53.6 Linear feet 131 boxes, 17 volumes, 6 flat files
The Academy of Music materials span from the organization's founding in 1857 to 1972 and are housed in one hundred and thirty-one boxes, seventeen volumes, and six flat files. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania's staff assembled the collection gradually from materials that were received from multiple sources over time. The collection remains organized in several groups as found, the largest being mixed programs. While boxes of these mixed programs are in chronological order, within these boxes arrangement is sometimes by date and sometimes by type or organization. Since the academy’s open season generally lasted from late September to June, there are no programs dating from July or August in any given year, and programs from June tend to be for school commencements. Oversized programs, newsletters, and miscellaneous printed materials are arranged chronologically in Box 120. Early oversized playbills in broadside form have been removed to Flat Files 1 to 6. Also note that Boxes 116 and 117 contain programs dating from 1857 to 1946 that have not yet been interfiled chronologically in the collection.
With the exception of clippings that can be found pasted into some of the early scrapbooks, the collection is made up entirely of printed programs and playbills. There are no records documenting the operations of the academy itself. Despite this, researchers can glean information from the collection about Philadelphia’s cultural history through not only the evidence of the companies that resided at the academy or visited the city, but also the numerous advertisements that were placed in the programs. Programs dating up to about the 1950s, and especially those from the late nineteenth century, are particularly artistic and show off the fashionable motifs and fonts of the day.
In addition to programs from various theatrical and musical organizations, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Metropolitan Opera Company, Princeton's Triangle Club, Philadelphia Grand Opera Company, Pennsylvania Ballet,and Boston Symphony Orchestra, the collection also contains numerous programs from local schools and groups that held their receptions, balls, commencements, benefits, and reunions at the academy. For such events, unusual and eleborate programs and dance cards were sometimes created; examples of such items can be found in Boxes 121, 122, and 123. And since, from the time of the Civil War, the Academy was used as civic forum, there are also scattered programs documenting political rallies, lectures, educational programs, and national events, like the Centennial Exhibition of 1876. Tickets, ticket stubs, invitations, advertising cards, librettos, and miscellaneous non-academy publications, including pamphlets, booklets, speeches, sheet music, and newsletters, were removed from the bulk of the collection to Boxes 124, 125, and 126.
Rounding out the collection are nineteen scrapbooks (two of which have been disbound and are in Boxes 127 to 131) that contain a variety of programs dating from 1857 to 1881. For the most part, these programs duplicate those found in the boxes. Loose items from the scrapbooks have been foldered; and these folders have been placed in Boxes 1 and 2. Aside from programs, a few of the early scrapbooks also contains clippings with information on or reviews of specific performances. Also scattered through the books are meeting notices, tickets, cards, and other ephemera.
This collection consists of playbills and programs to the various performances and special programs staged at the Academy of Music from 1857 to 1972. Among the organizations represented in the collection are the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pennsylvania Ballet, and various opera companies. There are also programs from out-of-state companies, such as the Boston Symphyony Orchestra. In addition to the programs there are also several scrapbooks that contain ephemera and newsclippings of reviews and announcements of performances as well as special events and programs.