Visitors to the Willis & Shirley Johnson and Classic Cinemas Research & Education Center at the Theatre Historical Society of America have the opportunity to conduct research in the American Theatre Architecture Archive (ATAA), which is currently home to over 100,000 items documenting over 18,000 theatres in America. The largest holding of its kind, the resources available in our collections document the architectural heritage of theatres in America from the 1880s to present day.
Composed of photographs, negatives, slides, postcards, artists’ renderings, scrapbooks, books, periodicals, business records, blueprints and architectural drawings, supplier and trade catalogs, architectural artifacts, theatre furnishings, ushers’ uniforms, and numerous other items our collections relating to theatre buildings and their cultural and social history.
THS welcomes those who seek to do on-site research within our Collections at the Willis & Shirley Johnson and Classic Cinemas Research & Education Center. However, all on-site research is by prior appointment only.
Please call or email the Archives Director at least 7 days in advance to schedule an appointment.
Please note the Willis & Shirley Johnson and Classic Cinemas Research & Education Center is not currently handicap accessible.
Thomas R. Du Buque Research Fellowship
If you’d like to visit the collections in person, consider applying for the Thomas R. Du Buque Research Fellowship, established in 2012 to support scholars conducting research in the Society’s archives. The Fellowship awards certificates and a cash award of $1,500 to support related expenses to visit the THS archive in Elmhurst, IL. Click here to learn more.
Reproduction and Publication Fees
Fees are charged for reproduction and usage of findings from our collections including images, original artwork and the like. These fees support ongoing preservation and collection management.
-Students doing research for thesis or dissertations will not be charged for reproductions if a copy of the final work is provided to the Theatre Historical Society of America’s Archives.
-Persons or organizations applying for National Historic Landmark status or applying for a state or local endangered places list will not be charged for reproductions if a copy of the final application is provided to the Theatre Historical Society of America’s Archives.
-Theatre Historical Society of America Members receive free photocopying onsite, waived research fees, and 50% discount on reproductions.