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Theatre & Performance Studies: Primary Sources

This guide is intended as a starting place for researchers, pointing to tools for finding books, scholarly articles, reviews, and other topical and collection-related information in Theatre.

The American and British Letters & Diaries /Oral Histories databases are wonderful for showcasing attitudes of women in various time periods.

The Foundation Directory Online is a research tool to help nonprofits find the grantmakers most likely to fund their projects.

GuideStar: the National Database of Nonprofit Organizations connects donors and grantmakers to non-profit organizations.


What are Primary Sources?  Primary sources enable the researcher to get as close as possible to the truth of what actually happened during an historical event or time period. Primary source is a term used in a number of disciplines to describe source material that is closest to the person, information, period, or idea being studied.  A primary source (also called original source) is a document, recording, artifact, or other source of information that was created at the time under study, usually by a source with direct personal knowledge of the events being described. It serves as an original source of information about the topic.

1) Primary Sources

  • Materials that contain direct evidence, first-hand testimony, or an eyewitness account of a topic or event under investigation
  • Primary sources provide the raw data for your research

2) Secondary Sources

  • Use primary data to solve research problems
  • Examples:  scholarly books and articles

Locate and Access Special Collections on the 2nd floor of Bobst. NYU Libraries’ special collections and archives house significant resources, rare books, personal papers, University history, and more.

A copy of the image The Fales Library and special Collections of Bobst Library NYU

Looking for archives not located here in Bobst, NYPL is just a few blocks away at 42nd street. If your looking for locations of archives in other parts of the country, this is how to locate them.

The following databases cover a variety of subjects and time periods. Click on the i icon to find out more.

Looking for American historical images? These databases have newspaper clippings, Broadsides and more.

NYPL's Billy Rose Theatre Collection

This a selected list of books containing primary source documents. To find more; use subject, author, plus terms such as diary, primary etc.