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Nineteenth century playbooks

Identifier: 11-MWalB02711

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of 143 playbooks (133 different titles) printed by various American publishing houses and representing a wide spread of genres, though farces and comedies are the most well represented.  The plays function as actors’ scripts and contain notes on costuming, setting, and staging. Over half the plays collected here were published by William V. Spencer in Boston, and contain the additional resource of a production history of each play. Most plays in this collection are undated, but are estimated to have been published between 1840 and 1870. A number of notable playwrights have multiple works included here, including: John Baldwin Buckstone; John Madison Morton; J.R. Planche; Charles Selby; and Tom Taylor. The collection was donated to Brandeis Special Collections by Victor Birch in 2013. The playbooks here collected originally belonged to a family of Boston actors: Franklin Hardenbergh, Oriana Hardenbergh (née Marshall) and Margaret Marshall. Various plays have handwritten labels and notes, while one,(Box 2 Folder 15) contains a handwritten insert of lines and stage directions written by Frank Hardenbergh.


  • 1853-1869

Conditions Governing Access

Access to the collection is in accordance with the policies of the Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Department, Brandeis University. Please contact the department for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests to reproduce or publish material from the collection should be directed tot he Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Deartment, Brandeis University.


1.25 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Arranged in three series: 1. Publisher: William V. Spencer, 1855-1861; 2. Publisher: Samuel French Inc, and Agents, 1850s and 1860s, undated; 3. Various American Publishers 1850s and 1860s, undated. Arranged alphabetically by author For more information about each series, please consult the series descriptions in the box and folder listing. Three manusript boxes.

Ryan Kacani
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Brandeis University Repository

415 South St.
Waltham MA

About Us

The Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Department at Brandeis University consists of two collecting units, the University Archives and Special Collections. University Archives documents the history and development of Brandeis University and its faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Special Collections features a broad array of unique primary source materials across a wide range of disciplines that support research, teaching and learning at Brandeis. Learn more about our collections