Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

McCarter Theatre Center (Princeton, N.J.)
Princeton University. Library. Department of Rare Books and Special Collections
McCarter Theatre Records
Princeton University Archives
Permanent URL:
209 boxes, 1 folder, and 6 items
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1-209


The McCarter Theatre was conceived as a permanent home for the Princeton University Triangle Club. McCarter began as a booking theater but ultimately moved into producing its own performances. The McCarter Theatre records document the history of the McCarter Theatre, including administration, performances and productions, and the building itself.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The McCarter Theatre records document the history of the McCarter Theatre, including administration, performances and productions, and the building itself. Documents related to productions include annotated scripts, programs, set and costume designs, drafts, sheet music, photographs of performances, and promotional material. Documents related to McCarter Theatre administration include memoranda, correspondence, reports, and financial material. Blueprints, plans, reports, and photographs document the construction and maintenance of the building. Also included are numerous documents related to the Lake Carnegie construction project. The records cover the administrations of Benjamin Franklin Bunn, Richard Pleasant and Isadora Bennett, Milton Lyon, Marguerite McAneny, Arthur Lithgow, Louis Criss, Michael Kahn, and Nagle Jackson. Also included are records of events presented at the theater, such as Music-at-McCarter, Princeton University Concerts, and Dance-at-McCarter.

Collection Creator Biography:

McCarter Theatre Center (Princeton, N.J.)

The McCarter Theatre was conceived as a permanent home for the Princeton University Triangle Club. It opened on February 21, 1930.

McCarter began as a booking theater. The McCarter Theatre did not produce its own shows, rather they booked touring shows and performers. During the 1930s, McCarter was often used by Broadway producers as a venue for previews of shows yet to debut on Broadway. The theatre also hosted Princeton University Concerts prior to their moving to Richardson Auditorium.

Following World War II, many Broadway producers reduced the number of non-Broadway previews virtually eliminating one of McCarter's main revenue generators. Mounting debt forced the theater to transfer the title and the building and the reasonability of its operating costs to Princeton University. Now a University entity, Princeton hired Milton Lyon as Executive Director of the newly McCarter Theatre Company in 1960 McCarter. Lyon immediately transformed McCarter, turning it from a booking theater into a producing theater. McCarter Theatre flourished under Lyon and his successors Arthur Lithgow, Michael Kahn, Nagle Jackson, and most recently, Emily Mann. McCarter significantly increased its music and dance bookings in the 1960s and remains known for offering a wide variety of quality performances in the arts.

Today, the McCarter Theatre Company continues to produce its own shows and serves as the home for Princeton University theater.

Collection History


The McCarter Theatre records have been transferred in numerous installments over the past several decades.

Custodial History

Much of the McCarter Theatre records were previously held within the Theater Division of the Special Collections. Some materials were directly received by the Mudd Manuscript Library from donors in known acquisitions; whenever this is the case, the material is identified by an accession number beginning with "AR".


Periodic transfers of records are expected from the McCarter Theatre indefinitely.


Carbons, invoices, and receipts were removed during processing in 2008. An oversize photograph print of parked bicycles, posters for non-McCarter productions dating from McCarter's time as a booking theatre, poster-size enlargements of newspaper articles, and posters that did not identify McCarter Theatre were removed from the accessions processed in 2011. Detailed information about items removed is available upon request.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Casey Babcock in August 2008. Finding aid written by Casey Babcock in August 2008. Additions were processed and the finding aid was updated by Christie Peterson with assistance from Suchi Mandavilli '14 in April 2011. To facilitate access the collection was intellectually rearranged by Helene van Rossum in 2019.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. The Trustees of Princeton University hold copyright to all materials generated by Princeton University employees in the course of their work. For instances beyond Fair Use, if copyright is held by Princeton University, researchers do not need to obtain permission, complete any forms, or receive a letter to move forward with use of materials from the Princeton University Archives.

For instances beyond Fair Use where the copyright is not held by the University, while permission from the Library is not required, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

McCarter Theatre Records; Princeton University Archives, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
65 Olden Street
Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
(609) 258-6345
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1-209