Chicago Theater Digital Collection
CPL's Digital Collections document life in Chicago through archival images, documents and artifacts.
Theater collections at Chicago Public Library document a vibrant local theater community. Become a playgoer at Chicago’s early theaters by examining more than 2,000 playbills and programs dating from 1848 to 1922.
Of special interest are playbills from shows starring Edwin Booth, Joseph Jefferson and Sarah Bernhardt at the well-known McVicker’s Theatre as well as playbills from vaudeville houses and neighborhood theaters.
The Chicago Theater Digital Collection comprises:
- E.B. Gould Programs Collection: The annotated programs of a local Chicago businessman and enthusiastic playgoer.
- Chicago Theater Collection-Historic Playbills: Programs, playbills and newspaper clippings from more than 2,000 productions at Chicago’s historical theaters dating back to the 1840s.
Questions or concerns about rights and access to this digital collection? See our Copyright and Takedown Policy.
This digital collection is made possible by a generous grant from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation through the Chicago Public Library Foundation.
Acknowledgment of Harmful Materials
Chicago Public Library collects images, documents and other archival materials from different communities and time periods to preserve and make available the cultural and historical record. As historical objects, some of these materials contain harmful or disturbing content. CPL presents these artifacts as an unfiltered social record and does not endorse the views expressed therein.
Related CPL Collections
- Chicago Theater Collection-Historic Programs: The complete and ever-increasing inventory of theater programs past and present, some of which are in this digital collection.
- Chicago theater archival collections: A list of collections at Chicago Public Library representing theaters, designers, actors and other members of the theater community.
Chicago History Blog
History & Genealogy Events
Jul 29th | 4:00pm - 5:00pmOnline Event
Aug 7th | 2:00pm - 3:00pmOnline Event
Aug 12th | 2:00pm - 2:30pm
Aug 12th | 2:45pm - 3:15pm
Aug 12th | 3:30pm - 4:00pm