Chicago Theater Digital Collection

CPL's Digital Collections document life in Chicago through archival images, documents and artifacts.

McVicker's Theatre playbill
McVicker's Theatre, Camille (January 13, 1881)

About

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 BoothJoseph Jefferson and Sarah Bernhardt at the well-known McVicker’s Theatre as well as playbills from vaudeville houses and neighborhood theaters.

Alongside traditional plays and musical works, numerous genres are represented in the collection, including extravaganzasjuggling and magic shows.

The Chicago Theater Digital Collection comprises:

Artifacts from the Chicago Theater collections are housed in the Special Collections and Preservation Division at Harold Washington Library Center.

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.

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