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Theatre and Performance: Primary Sources for Artists

Why Use Primary Sources in Theatre Design Research?

Primary Sources can be helpful in getting a feel for the world of a play. Primary Sources such as newspapers, magazines, and photographs provide first-hand accounts of events, providing unique insights that teach us about current events at the time a play was written or that are happening within a play and can provide insight and inspiration for choices related to costuming, hair, and scenic design. 

The resources on this page are a small sample of Primary Sources you can access through UIC Library and some online sources. If you need additional help navigating these resources or finding the Primary Sources that meet your needs, reach out to a librarian. 

Images & Art: Primary Sources

The resources here are good places to start finding primary source images that can be used as references or inspiration. If you need help citing images in your work, visit the "Using and Citing Images" page in this guide. 

Historical Newspapers & Magazines

Newspapers and Magazines can be helpful resource for learning about the context and current events that were taking place during the time in which a play is set. They can provide images for reference and inspiration for production design (costumes, set design, etc). Historical newspapers are also good sources for finding reviews and theatre criticism, which help us understanding how the play was received at the time it was originally produced.

Listed here are a handful of databases that you can use to find historical newspaper articles.

UIC Archives & Special Collections

UIC's Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) collects, preserves, and provides access to manuscript collections, university records, rare books, oral histories, photographs and more. With a variety of physical and digital materials available for study, this is a rich collection that can provide visual inspiration as well as historical context for theatre makers and historians alike. 

Libraries & Special Collections