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Brief Biographical / Historical Sketch


One of the main components of the Ford E. and Harriet R. Curtis Theatre Collection is its Pittsburgh theatre programs. Dr. Ford E. Curtis began teaching drama in the English department at the University of Pittsburgh in 1924. He and his wife, Harriet, were avid theatre goers, attending performances every week. After his retirement in 1961, he began to add to their personal collection of playbills and programs in the hopes of building a collection to donate to Pitt.

In the early 1960s, Dr. Curtis even went so far as to put advertisements in Carnegie Magazine, the Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, and programs for the Pittsburgh Playhouse. The advertisements put out a call for any and all Pittsburgh programs to be donated to him; he even listed his home address and telephone number, with the goal to build a Pittsburgh theatre history collection for the University of Pittsburgh. Large numbers of programs were also donated by the New York Public Library and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

The materials that Dr. Curtis amassed -- his own collection, materials donated to him, and the Curtis Collection staff's current efforts to acquire additional programs -- help to document the history of theatre and the performing arts in Pittsburgh.