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Archives & Primary Sources

Learn about the Emerson College Archives & Special Collections as well as other archives that may be of use when researching your topic. Also learn about primary sources and where to find them online.

What Does the Term "Collection" Mean?

A collection is a group of materials created and/or collected by an individual, group, organization, or business.  At ECASC we have two different types of collections:

  1. Institutional records created by College faculty, staff, student groups, and affiliated organizations; and
  2. Special collections created by outside individuals, organizations, and groups that focus on such subjects as the history of the College; radio, television, and film; journalism; and American comedy in all its forms.

American Comedy Archives

Board games from the American Comedy Archives.

The American Comedy Archives is composed of collections that document the professional activities of the groundbreaking individuals who have written, produced, and/or performed comedy on radio, television, motion pictures, or for live performance.  The collection includes over 60 oral histories with such individuals as Betty White, Weird Al Yankovic, and Hugh Hefner, as well as scripts, LPs, photographs, subject files, and jokes.

Special Collections

The Special Collections are materials created by non-Emerson individuals, groups, and organizations that were donated to ECASC.  These collections either focus on the history of the College or document the history of subjects that complement the collections curriculum.  Examples of the subjects contained within the special collections are:

  • Comedy
  • Film
  • Journalism
  • Performing Arts
  • Radio
  • Television
  • Theater

Materials include playbills, photographs, scripts, A/V items, and newspaper clippings.  Many of these collections have been cataloged in our database and/or or available with our digital collections.

Institutional Records

Our institutional records contain the historical documents and objects of Emerson College, including its academic departments, centers, and administrative units.  The archives also holds materials created by student groups as well as such affiliated organizations as Ploughshares and the Colonial, Paramount, and Cutler-Majestic theatres.

The following are just a few of the many subjects covered in Emerson's institutional records:

  • The founding and growth of Emerson College
  • The work and research of the College's faculty and students
  • The development of speech pathology as a discipline and its importance in society
  • Changes in technology and in societal preferences for theatre performances
  • The creation and evolution of the College's Radio courses and WERS