It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
A guide for scholars interested in the study of Shakespeare's life and works
Many of the Archival and Special Collections highlighted on this page specialize in primary and/or secondary materials associated with the works of William Shakespeare either in print or performance. This is a selective list and does not encompass all the Shakespearean collections around the world. Even though a collection may be located on the other side of the world, you will have to ability to use their catalogs or contact them via email to see if they have the material you are searching for.
Database of Early English Playbooks allows scholars and students to investigate the publishing, printing, and marketing of English Renaissance drama in ways not possible using any other print or electronic resource. An easy-to-use and highly customizable search engine of every playbook produced in England, Scotland, and Ireland from the beginning of printing through 1660, DEEP provides a wealth of information about the original playbooks, their title-pages, paratextual matter, advertising features, bibliographic details, and theatrical backgrounds.
Shakespeare Documented brings together high-res images, descriptions, and transcriptions of all known references and allusions to Shakespeare, his family, and his writings, almost entirely from his own lifetime. Over 30 institutions contributed to the online exhibition, which is convened by the Folger Library. Chief partners include the Bodleian Library, the British Library, The National Archives, and Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
A Digital Anthology of Early Modern English Drama opens a window on the vibrant theatrical community in which Shakespeare built his career. Unlike other Folger resources about Shakespeare and his plays, Early Modern English Drama (EMED) features the plays by other playwrights, illuminating an extraordinary era of artistic ferment.
These are reliable, expertly edited, and free digital Shakespeare texts for use by researchers. Starting from the Folger Editions of Shakespeare's works edited by Barbara Mowat and Paul Werstine, Folger Digital Texts uses XML to create a highly articulate indexing system. Researchers can read the plays online, download PDFs for offline reading, search a play or the whole corpus, navigate by act, scene, line, or the new Folger Throughline Numbers.
Early Modern Manuscripts Online, or EMMO, is a multi-faceted project funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) that will provide scholars and the general public with convenient web access to transcriptions, images, and metadata for a substantial number of English manuscripts from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Early Modern London Theatres (EMLoT) is a research database and educational resource that grew out of a collaboration between the Records of Early English Drama (REED) at the University of Toronto, the Department of Digital Humanities (DDH) at King's College London, and the Department of English at the University of Southampton. EMLoT lets you see what direct use has been made, over the last four centuries, of pre-1642 documents related to professional performance in purpose-built theatres and other permanent structures in the London area.
This database offers high resolution images from the Folger Shakespeare Library, including books, theater memorabilia, manuscripts, and art. Users can show multiple images side-by-side, zoom in and out, view cataloging information when available, export thumbnails, and construct persistent URLs linking back to items or searches.
The Furness Image Collection comprises more than 2,000 prints and photographs. The majority date from the nineteenth century, but the Collection also holds earlier and later images. These images illustrate and interpret Shakespeare's plays and also document theatrical performers and performances of works by Shakespeare and other dramatists.
The Henslowe-Alleyn Digitisation Project has two aims and objectives: first, to protect and conserve these increasingly fragile manuscripts, and, second, to make their contents much more widely available in a free electronic archive and website, not only to specialist scholars but to all those interested in early modern English drama and theatre history, as well as social, economic, regional, architectural, and legal history, and palaeography and manuscript studies. It is the hope of the Henslowe Alleyn Digitisation Project members that the use of these manuscripts in electronic and digital form will not be confined to students and scholars but to a wide-ranging and ever-changing community of readers in a variety of ways.
The Folger Shakespeare Library’s radio documentary Shakespeare in American Life explores the English language’s most important playwright and his influence on American performance, politics, and popular culture.
The Map of Early Modern London (MoEML) maps the streets, sites, and significant boundaries of late sixteenth-century and early seventeenth-century London (1560–1640). Taking the Agas map as its platform, the project links encyclopedia-style articles, scholarly work, student work, editions, and literary texts to the places mentioned therein. Students will view the landmarks of Shakespeare’s London and learn about the history and culture of the city in which he lived and worked. Teachers will find the map and encyclopedia useful in teaching Renaissance plays and other texts set in London. Scholars are welcome to contribute articles, links, sources, or compilations of data.
Hamlet on the Ramparts is an evolving collection that will expand to include other texts, images, films, sound recordings and digitial artifacts. Planned additions include commentary by major scholars and a forum for user participation.
The Lost Plays Database is a wiki-style forum for scholars to share information about lost plays in England, 1570-1642. Its purpose is to add lost plays to scholarly discussions of early modern theatrical activity. The editors believe that lost plays are a potential source of significant information on playwrights, playing companies, venues in London and the provinces, repertory studies, and audiences. The database provides a web-accessible, web-editable site for data on these plays concerning theatrical provenance, sources, genre, and authorship.
Touchstone is a project funded by the British Library Co-operation and Partnership Programme (BLCPP) to identify and map significant UK Shakespeare collections. The aim of Touchstone is to facilitate and encourage research in Shakespeare studies that will benefit both the academic and the wider community.
Folger Shakespeare Library is the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, the ultimate resource for exploring Shakespeare and his world. The Folger welcomes millions of visitors online and in person. We provide unparalleled access to a huge array of resources, from original sources to modern interpretations. With the Folger, you can experience the power of performance, the wonder of exhibitions, and the excitement of pathbreaking research. We offer the opportunity to see and even work with early modern sources, driving discovery and transforming education for students of all ages.
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts houses one of the world's most extensive combinations of circulating, reference, and rare archival collections in its field. These materials are available free of charge, along with a wide range of special programs, including exhibitions, seminars, and performances. An essential resource for everyone with an interest in the arts—whether professional or amateur—the Library is known particularly for its prodigious collections of non-book materials such as historic recordings, videotapes, autograph manuscripts, correspondence, sheet music, stage designs, press clippings, programs, posters and photographs.
The Harvard Theatre Collection at Houghton Library encompasses documentary material on the history of the performing arts, including theater, dance and ballet, and opera. The collection also covers many forms of popular entertainment, ranging from the circus to stage magic and minstrelsy.
The Theater Collection at the Museum of the City of New York contains over 200,000 accessioned objects that document theatrical performance in New York City from 1785 to present day Broadway productions. The Collection contains a wide range of material types such as annotated scripts, articles, contracts, correspondence, design renderings, drawings, ephemera, memorabilia, photographs, personal papers, posters, prints, props, scores, sheet music, scrapbooks, window cards, 3-D objects, and architectural elements. With significant material on Broadway productions and related personalities, the Collection charts the expansion of commercial theater along Broadway to the establishment of the current theater district in Times Square. The story of Broadway is augmented with smaller collections on popular entertainment forms: burlesque, minstrelsy, vaudeville, and circus. Large gifts on composers and lyricists Harry B. Smith, George M. Cohan, Howard Dietz, and Betty Comden document the evolution of musical theater as an artistic form. A collection on Yiddish theater reveals how an immigrant culture created vibrant and commercially viable performance traditions that maintained a lasting impact.
The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, newspapers, maps and manuscripts in its collections. The Library is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office.
PlayShakespeare contains electronic versions of Shakespeare's plays and a host of other related material such as a brief synopsis of each play and a character list. This site provides a list (with links) to national and international Shakespeare associations and institutions; Shakespearean theatre companies and festivals; podcasts; and book, DVD, film, and performance reviews.
This site was built with four attributes in mind: Power, Flexibility, Friendliness, and Openness. It won't replace the expensive, subscription-only sites at libraries or research institutions, but you can use the advanced search function, read the plays, and look up words and word forms in the concordance.
The Victorian Illustrated Shakespeare Archive is a PhD project created by Michael John Goodman. It contains over 3000 illustrations from four of the most significant illustrated editions of Shakespeare's works in the Victorian period. All images have been tagged bibliographically and iconographically and there are numerous pathways through the archive.
With the Performance Design Archive Online, theatre students and researchers can now truly see "behind the scenes" of the world's greatest dramatic performances. Performance Design Archive Online is the first comprehensive, international collection that covers all aspects of theater production design, from the 17th century through to the present day, including scenic and set design, lighting design, sound design, costume design, and makeup. Bringing together essential books and periodicals, archival material, and specially commissioned instructional videos, the collection will cover design concepts for a broad range of performance types, including dance, theatre, opera, and music.
Shakespeare in Performance: Prompt Books from the Folger Shakespeare Library, showcases rare and unique prompt books from the Folger Shakespeare Library. These prompt books tell the story of Shakespeare’s plays as they were performed in theaters throughout Great Britain, the United States and internationally, between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries.
Editions and Adaptations of Shakespeare contains searchable full text of eleven major editions of Shakespeare's works from the First Folio of 1623 to the Cambridge edition of 1863–66, plus contemporary printings of individual plays and poems, selected apocrypha and related works. The collection also includes adaptations, sequels, and burlesques from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.