Behind the Scenes at the THS Archives

The last week has been a busy time in the Archives with three on-site researchers as well as several mailed requests for THS to conduct research. The researchers had very different purposes which represent the varying uses for our Archives. The first on-site researcher was a Master’s student from Sotheby’s Institute of Art who was interested in the design and design influences on Thomas Lamb’s Loew’s 175th Theatre, Manhattan, New York. She spent two days in the Archives utilizing in Theatre files, books, catalogs, magazines, and videos in THS Collections. The second visiting researcher, a Master’s student from the Savannah College of Art and Design, came in to find information to support a National Historic Register nomination for the Lake Theatre, Oak Park, IL. She spent several hours methodically looking through our files on that one theatre. Her purpose was to supplement information she gathered from other sources, including our Marquee featuring Classic Cinemas and Willis Johnson’s own files. The third visitor was here on a nostalgic mission. He came in looking for photographs of a long list (a page and a half typed) of Chicago area theatres which he attended as a child. His purpose was to gather photos to create a booklet to give as a gift to his brothers of places from their youth. Unlike the in depth research needed for a Master’s thesis or a National Register nomination, he was interested only in files which contained images prior to the 1960s.

The mailed research requests were just as varied. One woman owns a statue believed to be from the Paramount Theatre in Nashville, TN and requested we try to verify the information. Another request was by a graphic designer who wanted a photo of the Southtown Theatre, Chicago, IL to be used in a marketing brochure for a non-profit community development company from Englewood, IL. A third request was from a staff member of AMC Theatres requesting a two photos of the Main St Theatre, Kansas City, MO to be used for an anniversary celebratory article for an AMC in-house publication.

While each researcher’s method and purpose was different, all were satisfied with the information provided by our Archives. As an added bonus, all three on-site visitors have promised to send copies of their completed projects to add to our Archives.

–Kathy McLeister, MLIS
THS Archive Director

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