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PERFORMING ARTS (Department of Special and Area Studies Collections): Home

THE PERFORMING ARTS/POPULAR CULTURE COLLECTIONS in the Department of Special & Area Studies Collections contains over 200,000 individual ephemeral research items.


Welcome to the Performing Arts/Popular Culture Collections in the University of Florida Department of Special and Area Studies Collections. Please contact the curator of the Popular Culture Collections for more information and assistance. We are here to provide information and assistance and hope to see you, soon.





Collection History & Content


The expanded scope of the scholarly and intellectual study of popular culture has had an increased impact on the holdings within the Department of Special and Area Studies Collections. The Belknap Collection for the Performing Arts was founded in the 1950s (primarily as a dance archive) by Sara Yancey Belknap, a University of Florida librarian and respected dance historian. Her personal collection of scrapbooks, photographs, programs and miscellaneous ephemera, provided the foundation for an area of collecting that has grown to encompass impressive primary source research material for theatre, film, music, television, sports, politics and day to day current events.

From a few shelves of material in the early 1950s, the Belknap Collection, through acquisition and donation, has expanded into an all-encompassing popular culture collection including over 200,000 playbills, programs, posters, photographs, costume and stage designs, newsletters, theatrical scrapbooks, sheet music, recordings, prints, scripts, videos and DVDs, manuscript collections, artifacts and various promotional materials. The collection also contains reference works, rare and large pictorial volumes and vintage and current performing arts periodicals.


Here is the link to the POPULAR CULTURE COLLECTIONS web page:


Here are the links to various Smathers Libraries blog posts:



Here are the links to various POPULAR CULTURE COLLECTION online exhibits:



Specific collections of interest include:

THE BELKNAP PLAYBILL AND PROGRAM COLLECTION is the largest area of acquisition in the Belknap Collection with approximately 9500 individual play titles in 111 archival boxes. Each folder contains promotional and program ephemera for various productions (professional and amateur) dating from the late 18th Century to the present.

THE EFRAIN BARRADAS MEXICAN AND CUBAN FILM POSTER COLLECTION, dedicated in 2010, was amassed, as a hobby beginning in 1994, by Dr. Ramon A. Figueroa, Associate Professor of Spanish at Millsaps College in Jackson Mississippi. The colorful collection grew to one of the great private Spanish Language poster collections in the world (including a secondary collecting interest in Cuban film posters). Dr. Figueroa credits his former teacher, Dr. Efrain Barradas (Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Florida Center for Latin American Studies), as his mentor and inspiration and, for this reason, requested that the collection of 378 individual posters be named in his honor.

Here is a colorful link to the collection courtesy of the UF Digital Library Center:

THE SUZY COVEY COMIC BOOK COLLECTION which was dedicated in 2008 in support of the Comic Studies Program offered by the UF Department of English was formed from the personal collections of Dr. Donald Ault (English professor at the University of Florida) and Penny and Sol Davidson (Dr. Sol Davidson was awarded the very first PhD in comics from New York University in 1959). The collection continues to grow and is useful for those interested in the history and development of sequential comics and comic book art formats, particularly in the United States.

THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN CINEMA COLLECTION includes over 300 pressbooks (illustrated campaign and advertising catalogs sent to theatre owners), press kits (media packages including biographies, promotional essays and illustrations), programs and over 1000 photographs and slides. The journey begins with the blatant racism of D.W. Griffith's THE BIRTH OF A NATION (1915) and follows the history of the African-American film through an extended period of stereotypical casting (SONG OF THE SOUTH, 1946) and the “All-Negro" musical (STORMY WEATHER in 1943, ST.LOUIS BLUES in 1958 and PORGY AND BESS in 1959) through the post-war era of the serious black actor (Sidney Poitier in A RAISIN IN THE SUN, Dorothy Dandridge in BRIGHT ROAD and Brock Peters in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD) and the era of "Blacksploitation"in the 1970s.

THE CAL YEOMANS THEATRICAL MANUSCRIPT COLLECTION represents the life and work of a playwright, poet, actor, artist, educator, lecturer, photographer, real estate investor, land developer and philanthropist who is considered a key contributor to the gay theatre movement of the 1970s and 1980s. The collection is comprised of play and multi-media scripts (in various rewrite stages), poetry, prose, notes, personal and professional correspondence, reviews, newspaper clippings, family papers, personal and exhibit photographs, ephemera, journals, audio recordings, financial records and business correspondence.

THE JIM LIVERSIDGE POPULAR CULTURE COLLECTION was donated in 2008 by the Curator of Popular Culture Collections in the UF Department of Special and Area Studies Collections and the initial gift represents over 40 years of collecting (from JFK and the Vietnam era to George W. Bush and 9-11). The collection consists of close to 7,000 individual pieces, including autographs, scrapbooks, photos, theatrical programs, posters, campaign buttons, sheet music, newspaper clippings, audio recordings, VHS and DVD films, artifacts and over 400 books. The collection continues to grow with each passing historical day.

THE PRESTON WOOD SCRIPT COLLECTION, acquired in 2000, is a valuable resource for writers and students of radio and television history. The researcher can follow the career of Mr. Wood, from the beginning (at radio station WUFT at the University of Florida), through the various stages of his professional life (Mr. Wood wrote or co-wrote scripts for all three major networks and for many of the top 10 shows of the 1960s and 1970s including BONANZA, GUNSMOKE, HAWAII 5-0, THE ADDAMS FAMILY, CIMARRON STRIP and QUINCY. Mr. Wood's longest lasting professional association was with Jack Webb and the Mark VII productions of DRAGNET, ADAM-12, EMERGENCY and SIERRA.). The researcher may also follow each step in the writing process from the story idea, outline and first draft to the rewrites and final shooting script.

THE FLORIDA MUSIC COLLECTION, acquired from historian and collector Danny O. Crew, in a variety of formats (33 1/3RPM, 45RPM, 78RPM, audio cassettes, video, sheet music and piano rolls) represents an assortment of subject areas including the STATE SONG (Old Folks at Home), the SWANEE SONGS ( a mainstay of the vaudeville era), the STATE AS SUBJECT (Florida, the Moon and You, Florida Flo, etc), CITIES AND TOWNS AS SUBJECT (TALLAHASSEE LASSIE, MOON OVER MIAMI, etc), RELIGIOUS AND CHURCH MUSIC, the Heyday of the South Florida NIGHTCLUBS, and SCHOOL group recordings. Feel the warmth of the "sun and fun capital of the world" with the FLORIDA MUSIC COLLECTION (filed alphabetically by song title or performer).

THE SOUND OF RADIO AND TELEVISION donated by the Curator of Popular Collections, Jim Liversidge, is a light-hearted collection of audio recordings (in various formats) representing the history of the "Golden Age" of radio and television (the 1920s through the 1980s) including transcriptions, soundtracks, popular albums by the famous personalities of the period, commercials and theme songs.

THE ROBERT STRASSBURG COLLECTION OF ERNEST BLOCH is a fascinating and fact-filled compilation of manuscript material gathered by the noted educator, composer, conductor and musicologist, Dr. Robert Strassburg (1915-2003), focusing on the career and life of one of the most renowned composers of the 20th Century, Ernest Bloch (1880-1959). Two great men of modern classical music are honored and commemorated by this important acquisition made possible through the efforts of Dr. David Kushner, Professor Emeritus in the UF College of Music.

THE JOHN W. LINDELL COLLECTION is a collection of cartoon, comic strip and animation art anthologies and histories collected, as a hobby, by financial executive John W. Lindell of St. Petersburg, Florida, from 1953 through 2007. The collection includes close to 1,000 books by individual artists (Thomas Nast, Norman Rockwell, Alberto Vargas, Bill Mauldin, Charles Addams, Jules Feiffer, Edward Gorey, William Steig, James Thurber, R. Crumb, Theodore "Dr. Seuss" Geisel, etc.) and 220 books of anthologies published by various magazines such as The New Yorker, Punch, Playboy, Mad Magazine, National Lampoon, The Saturday Evening Post and Esquire as well as those edited by individuals (Lawrence Laniar, George Herriman, Hugh Hefner, etc.). There are also 150 paperback (pocket) books of individual artists (Charles Schulz, Mort Walker, Hank Ketchum, Chester Gould, Walt Kelly, etc.) as well as comic strip anthologies ("Pogo," "Dick Tracy," "Dennis the Menace," "B.C.," "Garfield," "Peanuts," "Doonesbury," "Beetle Bailey," etc.).

THE BERNARD S. PARKER WORLD WAR ONE SHEET MUSIC COLLECTION consists of 753 pieces of sheet music (most are the larger format 11x14 inch size with a small assortment of 7x10 inch "War Editions"). The sheet music is organized alphabetically by title. Most were published between 1914 and 1920, but a few date back to the late 19th Century. The collection represents a country and culture at a crossroads and offers a myriad of research options. As Dr. Parker writes: "....The United States was rather naive as it entered World War I. There had been no great mobilization since the Civil War and the skirmishes in Cuba and Mexico were hardly on a par with the Great War. America learned how to do war as it happened, and popular songs appear to have had a significant impact ans served a useful purpose in bringing the nation together both before and after the war..."

THE MARTIN HARRIS COLLECTION represents over 40 years (from the late 1920s through the 1960s) in the professional career of photographer Martin Harris, the collection includes 44 boxes of biographical ephemera, various monographs, newspaper and magazine articles and photographs, slides and proof (contact) sheets by Martin Harris (filed alphabetically by subject). From the 1930s through the late 1960s, photographer Martin Harris was an eyewitness to the history and culture of the mid-20th Century. He recorded images of Depression-era labor unrest, the horrors of World War II and the stars of stage screen, radio and television.

THE JOHN DAVID RIDGE COLLECTION represents over 50 fifty years (c. 1960-2019) of theatrical history and the illustrious professional career of costume designer John David Ridge. The first two boxes contain folders showcasing family history dating back to 1890 through John Ridge’s formative years of the 1950s. The bulk of the collection consists of 142 boxes of theatre, film, television, opera and ballet ephemera including programs, playbills, photographs, personal correspondence and an impressive collection of costume "bibles" (preserved as they were used by Ridge on various working theatrical, film and television projects). The first donor gift was made in 1988 followed by additional contributions in the 1990s and 2000s.

THE DENISHAWN DANCE COLLECTION consists of correspondence, photographs, programs, posters, monographs, newspaper and magazine clippings, etc., pertaining to the professional and private lives of modern dance pioneers Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn and associates (c. 1900 until Ruth St. Denis' death in 1964 and Ted Shawn's death in 1972). Promotional material for the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Lee Massachusetts is also included, beginning with the founding of the property as a dance mecca by Ted Shawn in 1933 through the present day. Miscellaneous ephemera pertaining to the professional and private lives of Ted Shawn's professional/domestic partners Barton Mumaw and John Christian has also been included in this collection. Photographs, correspondence and biographical material pertaining to the professional life of dancer/photographer/educator/Denishawn asociate Dwight Godwin have also been compiled.

THE BELKNAP PLAYBILLS AND PROGRAMS COLLECTION is the largest area of acquisition in the Belknap Collection for the Performing Arts with approximately 9500 individual play titles stored in 111 archival boxes. Each folder contains promotional and program ephemera for various productions (professional and amateur) dating from the late 18th century to the present. The collection continues to grow with new purchases and donations.

THE WILL McLEAN FLORIDA FOLK MUSIC COLLECTION spans a period beginning with his genealogical roots in the late 19th Century and detailing the private and public life of "Florida's premier folklorist" from his birth until his passing in 1990, THE WILL McLEAN FLORIDA FOLK MUSIC COLLECTION consists of family history and photographs, handwritten song lyrics and poetry, promotional posters, handbills, brochures and programs, recordings (various formats), artifacts (his iconic black wool hat, harmonicas, a guitar, etc.) as well as correspondence between McLean and his family, musical collaborators and colleagues and his longtime companion and champion Margaret Mary Longhill. This fascinating research collection reveals a complicated, creative and eccentric activist who lived to sing the praises of his home and to bring attention to the history of Florida and the environmental damage that threatened the ecology of this beautiful and fragile landscape. The researcher will find a vast archive of primary source ephemera that chronicles the 20th Century Florida folk music world and the talented musical pioneers who paved the way for future artists who now entertain and inform at the many folk festivals across the state.

Finding guides will be created for each specific area of collecting, but until this epic task is completed, the researcher should speak with the collection curator for information on collections not represented in the LibGuide or on the Department's web page.



Performing Arts (Special & Area Studies Collections)

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Jim Liversidge
Department of Special and Area Studies Collections

280 Smathers Library

PO Box 117005

Gainesville, FL 32611-7005



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