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Waidner-Spahr Library

Theatre & Dance: Primary Sources

Primary Sources: What Are They?

Primary sources in theatre and dance include many categories:

  • The written or spoken words of the person being studied, such as
    • the text of a play
    • notated choreography  
    • autobiographies
    • memoirs
    • letters
    • diaries
    • interviews
    • manuscripts of their own work
    • early versions or sketches of their own work
    • their own commentary on their work
  • Archives of the work or performance being studied, such as
    • video recordings
    • audio recordings
    • photographs
    • reviews written by people in attendance
    • documents from the performance (programs, playbills, posters)


Primary Source Timeline

See our Primary Source Timeline to browse a selection of primary source databases organized by coverage dates and locations.

Primary Sources: Where Are They?

JumpStart contains many primary sources that have been published or digitized. For everything beyond the scope of the catalog, we offer many databases of primary sources. Several useful examples for theatre and dance are listed below.