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On Stage and Screen: Photograph File of the Billy Rose Theatre Collection

Tens of thousands of photographs of actors and actresses, in character and as themselves, from the 19th century to recent years.

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Marion Davies. Digital ID: TH-07436 Marion Davies. Digital ID: TH-07436

Collection History

The Billy Rose Theatre Collection's photograph archive holds personalities, productions, theatre buildings, and production studios. It is organized into three series, grouped by size of photographic print: "A" for the smallest, less than 8 x 10 inches; "B" for approximately 8 x 10 inches and slightly larger; and "C" for oversize prints. This digital presentation offers the complete contents of the so-called "A" files, which are rich in 19th-century carte-de-visite and cabinet card portraits, as well as 20th-century portrait proofs, personal snapshots, and photographic postcards. The series also includes some early production photographs, and a section on theatres subdivided geographically.


From its very beginning in 1931, the department has collected non-book materials, especially photographs and other visual documentation, from many sources. Today, the photo files remain a continuously expanding archive. Acquisitions stream in daily from various sources including press agents, publicists, personal collections or photos derived from archives and personal papers. In addition to the A-B-C archive are several large photograph holdings that are separately cataloged and housed; these include the Brugiére, Kesslere, Universal Pictures, Valente, and White collections, as well as the Vandamm collection (see also collection guide "Theatre Productions and Players, 1900-1957: Vandamm Studio Photographs").

Library Division(s)

NYPL Digital Gallery provides free and open access to over 800,000 images digitized from primary sources and printed rarities in the vast collections of The New York Public Library, including drawings, illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and photographs, illustrated books, printed ephemera, and more.