The advent of the twentieth century has been hailed as the beginning of
the modern age. A combination of technological advances and societal
freedoms led the way to a new world where - among other things -
entertainment for the masses became a thriving industry. The upbeat mood
of America was reflected in its theater, its popular songs, the craze for
ballroom dancing, and above all in the newest of popular fads, the motion
pictures. At the same time, America was forging its own classical culture worthy to compete with
its European forebears.
Performing Arts in America
1875 -1923, a web site of The New York
Library for the Performing Arts, captures a glimpse of this world. With
visual and audio images drawn from the extensive archival collections at
The Library, the site features an authentic look at this past, from the
Broadway theater and Tin Pan Alley to the art of dancer Loie Fuller and
composer Charles Griffes, all brought to you in original documents.
Captured in the then new techniques of photography, recorded sound, and
film, the performing arts of the early twentieth century come alive as
never before, preserved by The New York Public Library and brought to you
a century later via the Internet.
Contents of the Collection
Performing Arts in America 1875-1923 was funded, in part, by the
Endowment for the Arts. It presents a searchable database of 16,000
objects representing archival materials from one of the strongest periods
in the Performing Arts Library collections. The overall richness of these
collections is demonstrated by the variety of complementary original
resources that, studied together, can inform and further an understanding
of one artist, an entire production, or a whole era. Included are
clippings from a broad range of newspapers; composite photographs, called
"keysheets" that contain large numbers of reduced-size promotional shots;
music sheet samples featuring popular music, show-tunes, jazz and dance
music; photographs of theater, dance, and popular performance; and
publicity posters and lobby cards, the latter produced in the early years
of the film industry and used in theater lobbies to promote films.
Use of the online Collection
The site is best viewed with a 4.0 or higher Internet browser at a screen
resolution of 600 by 800 pixels. Apple Quicktime and RealPlayer plug-ins
are also necessary for a full viewing experience. Viewing tips and
instructions can be found under the Help button. Use Browse Index for
links to complete lists of material formats, names, titles, and subjects
included in the Performing Arts collection. Use Search to enter a
specific word, phrase, or keywords.
The New York Public Library provides access to a broad range of
historical resources, including materials that may contain offensive
language or stereotypes. Such materials should be viewed in the context
of their relevant time periods. All historical media are presented as
specific, original artifacts, without further enhancement to their
appearance or quality.