The Performing Arts Collection currently contains over 300,000 historical sound recordings and over 150 archival collections containing manuscripts, letters, photographs, scrapbooks, artwork and other primary soure documents that document and support research in the performing arts, including music, theater, dance, broadcast media (film/television/radio), and the circus. Thousands of items have been digitized for online access. The collections are located in the Special Research Collections Department in the UCSB Library on the 3rd Floor, Mountain Side.
Significant manuscript holdings include the papers of film composer Bernard Herrmann, singer Lotte Lehmann, actress Judith Anderson, and composer Peter Racine Fricker. The Toole-Stott Circus Collection contains primary source material and monographs on the circus; and the Lobero Theatre Records are the organizational records of the oldest theater in Southern California. The sound archives consist of several large collections comprising approximately 200,000 sound recordings, including cylinders, 78s, and LPs. The Special Research Collections department has listening and viewing facilities as well as a state-of-the-art laboratory for playback and preservation copying of audio, video, and film. Additional performing arts research materials are in the collections of CEMA.
To read more about how to obtain reproductions of Performing Arts materials, please see our page on Policies, Fees and Forms.
Special Research Collections is actively seeking both monetary contributions and donations of collections that enhance the curriculum of the university and complement the Library’s current holdings in the performing arts. Areas of general interest include historic sound recordings and manuscript collections relating to music, theater, dance, the circus, and film and television. Of particular interest are 78rpm ethnic recordings; European recordings of vocal music; cylinders; materials relating to California and Santa Barbara performing arts; film music; and sound recording catalogs from all eras. We also seek to cooperate with other institutions that may be more appropriate homes for a particular collection. We cannot purchase or appraise collections.
Contact the archivist if you know of materials that might fit into the scope of our collections:
Curator, Performing Arts Collection