Federal Theatre Project collection
018.FTP

Summary Information

Repository
Eastern Michigan University Archives
Title
Federal Theatre Project collection
ID
018.FTP
Date [inclusive]
1935-1939
Extent
8.4 Linear feet 8 record center cartons, 1 archive box
Language
English
Abstract
In 1935, as part of the WPA the Federal Theatre Project was created to employ theatre professionals during the Great Depression. The Federal Theatre Project collection documents the project through the scripts, publications and written histories of the project. The collection is divded into four series of records: Administrative and History, Individual Role SCripts, Publications, and Radio Scripts and arranged alphabetically within the series. The records date from 1935 to 1939 when the program was disbanded.

Preferred Citation note

Please cite materials from the University Archives in the following manner: Item. Collection Title. Eastern Michigan University Archives.

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Administrative History

The Federal Theatre Project was established on August 29, 1935 by the Works Progress Administration. The Great Depression had left millions unemployed with theatre professionals being hit especially hard at this time not only by the economic depression, but also by the development of films and radio.

The aim of the Federal Theatre Project was to employee theatre professionals in socially useful projects that would utilize their skills and at the same time bring theatre to thousands of American citizens who could no longer afford going to the theatre. This was done by means of radio performances, editing of scripts, and playwriting. At its peak the Federal Theatre Project employed almost 13,000 people.

Following a series of controversial investigations by the House Committee on Un-American Activities and Subcommittee on Appropriations regarding the Federal Theatre’s outspoken leftist commentary on social and economic issues, the Federal Theatre Project was terminated in 1939 by congressional action.

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Scope and Contents

The Federal Theatre Project collection contains information on the project history, radio scripts and publications including production lists and theatrical techniques. The collection is divided into four series and arranged alphabetically within each. Records date from 1935 to 1939.

The four series that are included in the collection are: Administration and History, Individual Role Scripts, Publications and  Radio Scripts.

The Publications series includes eight sub-series of cultural plays, folk songs, holiday plays, musicals, non-royalty plays, operettas, patriotic plays religious plays. The  Radio Scripts series includes forty-one sub-series most commonly titled by the production title. These sub-series are: Backstage Interviews, Choral Contrasts, Detective O'Malley, Drums, Elizabethan Dramas, Epic of America, Experiments in Symphonic Drama, Exploring the Arts and Sciences, Exploring the Seven Arts, Federal Theatre of Air, Gilbert and Sullivan Light Opera Program, History in Action, Home Town, Isben Cycle, Jewish Theatre of Air, Jules Verne, King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table, Makers of Dreams, Men Against Death, New York Panorama, Once Upon A Time, Operettas, Oscar Wilde Cycle, Out of the Hall of Records, Pals of the P.A.L., Pickwick Papers, Pioneers of Science, Portraits in Oil, Repertory Theatre of Air, Short Stories, Social Security Board, Special Events, Story of Swing, Symphonic Dramas, Their Greatest Stories, There's A Law Against It!, This Was News, Tish, United States Housing Authority, What Good Is Art?, and Women in the Making of America.

The provenance of the collection is undocumented and it is unclear from the collection record what if any connection there was between the Michigan State Normal College and the Federal Theatre Project.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Eastern Michigan University Archives 2012 November 26

Halle Library, Room 310
Ypsilanti, Michigan, 48197
734-487-0020

Revision Description

 Revisions made by Alexis Braun Marks, University Archivist 2013 October 2

Conditions Governing Access note

Researchers are asked to request materials 24 hours prior to visiting the the University Archives.

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Controlled Access Headings

Subject(s)

  • Federal Theatre Project (U.S.)

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Collection Inventory

Administration and History 

Box Folder

Federal Theatre Project Judicial Hearings 1938-1968 

9 1-2

Highlights of the First Production Conference 1936 

1 1

History of the Federal Theatre Project 1939 

1 2

Instructions 1935 

1 3

Reorganization of the Play Bureau 1935 

1 4

Review of Productivity and Service 1936 

1 5

Surveys 

Box
1
Folder
6

Theatrical Synopses 

1 7

W.P.A.--Bibliography of Air Raid Precautions & Civil Defense 

1 8-9

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Individual Role Scripts 

Box Folder

All God's Chillun Got Wings 

1 10

All of A Summer Evening 

1 11

Althea 

1 12

American Landscape 

1 13

Elizabeth Refuses 

1 14

Emperor Jones 

1 15

Golden Gate Bridge 

1 16

Goodbye Again 

1 17

Good Fairy 

1 18

Great Catherine 

1 19

If Ye Break Faith 

1 20

It's a Wise Child 

1 21

I Want a Policeman 

1 22

Jayhawker 

1 23

Jericho 

1 24

John Ferguson 

1 25

John Henry 

1 26

Johnny Johnson 

1 27-28

Justice 

1 29

Laff That Off 

1 30

Little Clay Cart 

1 31

Loyalties 

2 1

Lucky Sam McCarver 

2 2

Roaring Girl 

2 3

These Few Ashes 

2 4

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Publications 

Box Folder

Against Itself-The Federal Theater and Writers' Projects in the Midwest 

9 3

Amateur Productions 

2 5

A Modern Miscellany 

2 6

Anti-War Plays 1937 

2 7-8

Chants for Harvard Dramatic Club 1937 

2 9

Children's Theatre 1936-1937 

2 10

Continental Theatre 1938 

2 11

Cultural Plays 

Box Folder

American, English and Irish Plays 

2 12

Classic English Plays 

2 13

English Miracle, Morality and Mystery Plays 

2 14

Irish Plays 1937 

2 15-16

List of Negro Plays 

2 17

Negro Plays 

2 18

Russian Plays 

2 19

Spanish Plays 

2 20-21

Theatre Abroad 1939 

2 22

Folk Songs 

Box Folder

Folk Songs from Mississippi 

2 23-24

Folk Songs from West Virginia 


    Box Folder
Text (32307009257123)   3 1
    Box Folder
Text (32307009257115)   2 25-27

Holiday Plays 

Box Folder

Holiday Plays for Children 1937 

3 2

Halloween and Thanksgiving Plays 

3 3

Holiday Musicals for Children 

3 4
Box Folder

Modern Continental Plays 

3 5

Monologues 1938 

3 6

Musicals 

Box Folder

Minstrels 1938 

3 7

Musical Comedies 1938 

3 8

Musical Dramas 1937 

3 9

Non-Royalty Musicals 1936 

3 10

National Play Bureau 1937-1938 

3 11

New Plays 1936 

3 12

New Plays Survey 1938 

3 13

Non-Royalty Plays 1936 

Box
3
Folder
14
Box Folder

Full Length Non-Royalty Plays 1937 

3 15

List of One-Act Plays 

3 16

One-Act Non-Royalty Plays 1936-1937 

3 17

Operettas 

Box Folder

Juvenile Operettas 1938 

3 18-19

Operettas for Adults 1938 

3 20

Patriotic Plays 

Box Folder

Early American Plays 1938 

3 21-22

Patirotic Holiday Plays 1937 


    Box Folder
Text (32307009257131)   4 1
    Box Folder
Text (32307009257123)   3 23

Box Folder

Puppeteers and Marionette's Theatre 1936 

4 2-3

Religious Plays 

Box Folder

Anglo-Jewish Plays 1938 

4 4-5

Catholic Plays 1938-1939 

4 6-9

Christmas Plays 1936-1938 

4 10-11

Easter Plays 1937 

4 12

Jewish Anti-War Plays 

4 13

Jewish Plays 1937 

4 14

New Testament Plays 1938 

4 15

Old Testament Plays 1938 

5 1
Box Folder

Rural Plays 1937 

5 2-3

Theatrical Techniques 1937-1938 

5 4-5

Vaudeville Sketches 1937-1938 

5 6-8

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Radio Scripts 

Box Folder

Radio Script Catalogue 

5 9

Around the Corner 

5 10

Backstage Interviews 

Box Folder

Children's Festival 1937 

5 11

Mississippi Rainbow 1938 

5 12

Professor Mamlock 1937 

5 13

The Singing and the Gold 1937 

5 14
Box Folder

Choral Contrasts: A Symposium of Choirs 1938 

5 15

Detective O'Malley 

Box Folder

Broadway Murder 1939 

5 16

Dumb Witness 1939 

5 17

Green Paint 1939 

5 18

Lost Girl 1939 

5 19

Smart Guy 1939 

5 20

Too Bad 1939 

5 21

Too Clever 1939 

5 22

Drums 

Box Folder

Episode No. 4 1938 

5 23

Episode No. 10 1938 

5 24

Episode No. 12 1938 

5 25

Elizabethan Dramas 

Box Folder

13 Elizabethan Dramas 1938 

5 26

A New Way to Pay Old Debts 

5 27

Volpone 

5 28

Epic of America 

Box Folder

America Secedes from the Empire 1937 

5 29

America Secedes from the old World 

5 30

Civilization Established 1937 

5 31

End of the Frontier 1938 

5 32

Epic of America 

Box Folder

No. 2 Aztec 

5 33

No. 3 Mayflower 

5 34
Box Folder

Essay Awards 1938 

5 35

Flag Outruns the Constitution 1938 

5 36

Sun Rises in the West 1938 

5 37

Experiments in Symphonic Drama 

Box Folder

The Age of Steel, Opus 41 1938 

6 1

Symphony #3 in E Flat Major, Opus 55 (Eroica) 1938 

6 2

Exploring the Arts and Sciences 

Box Folder

Chinese Bronze No. 50 1938 

6 3

Early Silver of New York No. 54 1938 

6 4

Modern Short Story No. 51 1938 

6 5

Museum and Juvenile Delinquency No. 53 1938 

6 6

Technology and Society 

6 7

Three Centuries of French Domestic Silver No. 29 1938 

6 8

Exploring the Seven Arts 

Box Folder

Humor in Archtecture and Poetry 1937 

6 9

Modern Dance 1937 

6 10

Significance of Modern Architecture 1937 

6 11

Social Basis of the Arts 1937 

6 12

Voice Culture 1937 

6 13

Federal Theatre of the Air 

Box Folder

Lonely Man 1939 

6 14

Power 1939 

6 15
Box Folder

First Frontiers No. 28 1937 

6 16

Gilbert and Sullivan Light Opera Program 

Box Folder

Ruddigore 1938 

6 17

Trial By Jury 1938 

6 18

History in Action 

Box Folder

Christmas Tree in the Window 1936 

6 19

Crisis of 1870 

6 20

Edgar Allen Poe's New York Days 1937 

6 21

His High Mightiness 

6 22

John Willkes Booth 1937 

6 23

Kit Carson 1938 

6 24

Lydia Dariah 1937 

6 25

Mad Anthony Wayne 1937 

6 26

Man Who Founded Chinatown 1937 

6 27

Murray Hill 

6 28

O Henry, Caliph of Bagdad 1936 

6 29

Old Hays 1937 

6 30

Peter Stuyvesant 

6 31

Phineas T. Barnum 

6 32

Plumes Defiant 1937 

6 33

Sawing a Manhatten in Half 1936 

6 34

Thomas Paine 1936 

6 35

Two Women and a Crime 

6 36

Victor Herbert 

6 37

Home Town 

Box Folder

Home Town No. 2 

6 38

Home Town No. 3 

6 39

Home Town No. 4 

6 40

Isben Cycle 

Box Folder

Hedda Gabler 1937 

6 41

Lady from the Sea 1937 

6 42

Rosmerholm 1937 

6 43

Jewish Theatre of Air 

Box Folder

Awake and Sing 1939 

6 44

Jules Verne 

Journey to the Center of the Earth 

Box Folder

Episode II 1938 

6 45

Episode VII 1938 

6 46

Epsidoe VIII 1938 

6 47

Mysterious Island 

Box Folder

No. 5 1938 

6 48

No. 11 1938 

6 49

No. 18 1938 

6 49

King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table 

Box Folder

How Sir Gareth Became a Knight 

6 50

Story of Romance of Meligraunce 1939 

6 51
Box Folder

Makers of Dreams 

6 52

Men Against Death 

Box Folder

Hunger Fighters 1938 

6 53

Leenuwenhoek: First of the Microbe Hunters 1938 

6 54

Man for Fundamentals: Mohler 

6 55

Microbe Hunters 1938 

6 56

New York Panorama 

Box Folder

City in Motion 

6 57

Newspaperman's Mecca 1939 

7 1

World Market Place 1939 

7 2

Once Upon A Time 

Box Folder

Man Who Would Not Die 

7 3

Once Upon A Time (Series Synopsis) 

7 4

Sleeping Beauty 1938 

7 5

Sleeping Beauty (from the French) 1938 

7 6

Operettas 

Box Folder

Billee Taylor Acts I & II 1938 

7 7

Black Mantles Act II 1938 

7 8

Chimes of Normandy 1939 

7 9

Cox and Box 1939 

7 10

Drum Major's Wife 1939 

7 11

The Geisha 1939 

7 12

The Grand Duchess 

7 13

Maritana 1938 

7 14

Nell Gwynne 1939 

7 15

Olivette 1939 

7 16

Rose of Alhambra 1939 

7 17

The Soceror 1939 

7 18

Oscar Wilde Cycle 

Box Folder

An Ideal Husband 1937 

7 19

Lady Windemere's Fan 1937 

7 20

The Picture of Dorian Gray 

7 21

Our Neighborhood 

Box Folder

Fourth Visit 1938 

7 22

Seventeenth Visit 

7 23

Twenty Third Visit 1939 

7 24

Thirtieth Visit 1939 

7 25

Thirty Second Visit 1939 

7 26

Thirty Sixth Visit 1939 

7 27

Thirty Seventh Visit 1939 

7 28

Out of the Hall of Records 

Case of Albert E. Hicks 1938 

Box
7
Folder
29

Case of Charles Mitchell 1939 

7 30

Case of the Daybreak Boys 1938 

7 31

Case of Nancy Buckson 

7 32

Case of Robert Buchanan 1939 

7 33

Pals of the P.A.L. 1939 

Box Folder

No. 2 1939 

7 34

No. 3 1939 

7 35

No. 4 1939 

7 36

No. 10 1939 

7 37

Pickwick Papers 

Box Folder

Gaol 1938 

7 38

The New Dress Coat 

7 39

Pioneers of Science 

Box Folder

Alexander Graham Bell 1938 

7 40

Anthony Leeuwenhoek 

7 41

David Bruce 1936 

7 42

The Dirigible 1937 

7 43

Dr. Grenfell of Labrador 1937 

7 44

James Watt 1936 

7 45

John Ericcson 

7 46

John P. Holland: No. 5 1936 

7 46

John P. Holland: No. 9 1938 

7 47

John Wise, Man of the Clouds 1937 

7 48

Lee DeForest 1936 

7 49

Lord Carnavon 

7 50

Louis Pasteur 1938 

7 51

Robert Koch 

7 52

Wright Brothers 1936 

7 53

Portraits in Oil 

Box Folder

George Romney 1937 

7 54

Honore Daumier 

7 55

Madame Viggee-Lebrun 1937 

8 1

Repertory Theatre of Air 

Box Folder

Master Builder 

8 2

Mistress of the Inn 

8 3

Rip VanWinkle 

8 4

Short Stories 

Box Folder

Christ in Concrete 

8 5

Duel By Candlelight 

8 6

Mr. Mercenthwicker's Lobblies 

8 7

Social Security Board 

Box Folder

January 1939 

8 8

Special Events 

Box Folder

No Help Wanted 

8 9

Story of Swing 

Box Folder

Harlem in the Thirties 

8 10

Swing--The Future 

8 11

White Jazz and the Commercial Era 

8 12

Symphonic Dramas 

Box Folder

All For Love 

8 13

Their Greatest Stories 

Box Folder

An Accident 

8 14

Duel by Candlelight 

8 15

Family In the Wind 

8 16

Going My Way 

8 17

Help Yourself 

8 18

I'll Send You a Snapshot 

8 19

The Jonah 

8 20

Let Freedom Ring 

8 21

The Twenty Forth Hour 

8 22

There's A Law Against It! 

Box Folder

Lawyer Q: Session 9 

8 23

Lawyer Q: Session 18 

8 24

This Was News 

Box Folder

January 1-7 

8 25

January 15-21 

8 26

January 29-February 4 

8 27

February 5-11 

8 28

February 11-17 

8 29

March 3-10 

8 30

August 28-September 3 

8 31

September 11-17 

8 32

December 4-10 

8 33

December 11-17 

8 34

Tish 

Box Folder

Tish Goes To Jail 

8 35

Tish: Hospital Mystery 

8 36

Tish No. 1 

8 37

United States Housing Authority 

Box Folder

Script 1 

8 39

Script 2 

8 40

Script 3 

8 41

Script 6 

8 42

What Good Is Art? 

Box Folder

John Henry/Graphic Arts 

8 43

Women in the Making of America 

Box Folder

Freedom of Education 

8 44

Freedom of Speech 

8 45

Women in Arts and Crafts 

8 46

Women as Homemakers 

8 47

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