I am happy to announce that a new finding aid for the Federal Theatre Project collection is available! In total the collection numbers 363 boxes of material created by the Federal Theatre Project and donated to George Mason University from the Library of Congress.
Originally the collection was much larger when it first came to Mason in 1974. Two Mason professors, Lorraine Brown and John O’Connor, located the collection at a Library of Congress off-site storage facility in Maryland and negotiated for the collection to come to Mason on permanent loan. The collection was returned to the Library of Congress in 1993. A year later duplicate copies of the materials were returned to Mason thus creating the collection that we have today. For a complete history on how the collection came to be at George Mason see the article “The Discovery of the Federal Theatre Project Archives” on the newly published George Mason University: A History site.
In addition to the collection from the Library of Congress, Special Collections also houses a number of gift collections from actors, directors, and other participants in the FTP. Rehousing and in some cases reorganizing these gift collections is the next stage of reprocessing our Federal Theatre materials. These collections contain scrapbooks, programs, newspaper clippings, and letters, that provide a detailed view about what working with the FTP was like.
The following photograph is of two pages from a scrapbook donated by Fernando Mesa and features a telegram envelope with notes, telegram, photograph, and two newspaper clippings from September to October of 1936. The material relates to The Modern Rip company at the Centro Asturiano Theatre in Tampa, Florida, part of the Spanish-language theatre produced by the FTP.