This is the "Starting Points" page of the "African-American Theatre" guide.
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This research guide is designed to be a companion to THR 270, Introduction to Black Theater. A special thanks goes out to Christina Ham for her input in the development of this guide.
Last Updated: Nov 18, 2013 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Style Guides

Check out these MLA (Modern Language Association) style guides for tips on creating citations and organizing a research paper.

MLA Formatting and Style Guide (Purdue)
Purdue University's online guide to MLA style.

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers
Call Number: Reference LB2369 .G53 2009
The Modern Language Association's comprehensive guide.

Research and Documentation in the Electronic Age (4th ed.) - Hacker, Diana
Call Number: Reference Desk LB2369 .H33 2006
Diana Hacker's respected guide also has a handy online companion where you can quickly see citations and sample papers in MLA (and other) styles.


  • Black Drama Second Edtion
    This should be the starting point for your research! It contains approximately 1,462 plays by 233 playwrights, together with detailed, fielded information on related productions, theaters, production companies, and more. The database also includes selected playbills, production photographs and other ephemera related to the plays.
  • Project Muse
    Searching is difficult in Project Muse! It does contain quite a bit of material pertaining to drama. FYI-if you are searching another database, it links to Project Muse.
  • ProQuest Newspapers
    Proquest Newspapers is an excellent source to track down reviews of plays that opened in cities other than New York.
  • MLA International Bibliography
    Search here for scholarly theatre criticism. You might want to consider searching by the name of your play, a character in your play, etc.
  • Find It!
    No full text? Click "Find It" by the article to get it elsewhere, or to order it (learn more).

Books onTheatre

Search WorldCat

If your first search brings up too many irrelevant items, try using the Refine by Topic suggestions in the box on the left of the search results screen.

Try searching use the terms listed below:

  • enter the name of your play, director or playwright
  • drama criticism or theater criticism
  • American drama--African American authors
  • African American theater--history and criticism
  • African Americans--intellectual life
  • African American theater--history
    Cover Art
    The Oxford Companion to African American Literature - William L. Andrews (Editor); Frances Smith Foster (Editor); Trudier Harris-Lopez (Editor); Henry Louis Gates (Foreword by)
    Call Number: REF 153 N5 o96 1997
    ISBN: 0195065107
    Publication Date: 1997
    Brief entries on African-American playwrights, plays and other aspects of Black Theater.

    Cover Art
    Harlem Renaissance and Beyond: literary biographies of 100 Black Women Writers, 1900-1945 - Lorraine E. Roses; Ruth E. Randolph
    Call Number: REF PS 153 N5 R65 1990
    Publication Date: 1990
    This work provides short biographical sketches of women involved with the Harlem Renaissance as well lists of their works and works about them.

    Cover Art
    The Ghost Walks: A Chronological history of blacks in show business, 1865-1910 - Henry T. Sampson
    Call Number: REF PN 2270 A35 S25 1988
    Publication Date: 1988
    This book provides am excellent overview of African Americans in the theater by year. It has many pictures and references to primary sources.

    Cover Art
    Living Theater - Edwin Wilson; Alvin Goldfarb
    Call Number: PN 2101
    ISBN: 007038469x
    Publication Date: 1999-07-21
    Theater Histories are useful for brief production histories, as well what else is going on the theater world at the time of the play you are researching. Also use the call number PN 2101 other theater histories--not all histories are created equal!

    Cover Art
    Encyclopedia of African American History 1619-1895 - Paul Finkelman (Editor)
    Call Number: REF E185 .E545 2006
    ISBN: 0195167775
    Publication Date: 2006-04-06
    Very useful for background information on topics in African American History i.e. Jim Crow, freedmen and famous African Americans.

    Web Resources

    • BTN: The Black Theatre Network
      For over 25 years, the Black Theatre Network has collected, processed and distributed information that supports the professional and personal development of its membership (comprised of representatives from all areas of theatre, community and professional organizations, and academic institutions)
    • African American Theatre Companies
      This website provides links to many African American Theater companies in the U.S.
    • IBDB: Internet Broadway Database
      A good source for background on Broadway plays


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    Bill Wittenbreer

    New Theatre Titles

    New Theatre books in the library.

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