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School of Drama Photographs

Identifier: 0000-0036

Scope and Contents

The School of Drama Photographs collection has been arranged into seven series: PRODUCTIONS (11 linear feet), BUILDINGS (0.1 linear feet), EVENTS (0.2 linear feet), GENERAL (0.2 linear feet), PEOPLE (0.6 linear feet), NEGATIVES AND TRANSPARENCIES (5.2 linear feet) and SLIDES (0.8 linear feet).

Production stills make up the vast majority of the collection and can be found in the PRODUCTION series, in addition to the series for NEGATIVES AND TRANSPARENCIES and SLIDES. While the bulk of production photographs are black and white, several of the same images can be found in color in the Slides series.

The BUILDINGS, EVENTS, GENERAL, and PEOPLE series are composed of photographic prints. The majority of these prints do not have assoicated negatives.

Scope and Contents

This finding aid was reviewed during a reparative language review in March 2024. It may contain language considered to be outdated and/or offensive. The original language was retained as it was quoted from the original sources and provides important context about materials, their creators, and/or the society in which the materials were created.


  • 1914-2005


Condition and copyright restrictions necessitate reproduction decisions to be made on a case by case basis by the university archivist.


Carnegie Mellon became the first university in the world to offer a college drama degree with the establishment of its School of Drama in February 1914 by Thomas Wood Stevens. The program’s first production was Shakespeare’s “Two Gentleman of Verona” and the early drama curriculum included courses on the history of theater, direction and makeup, dramatic literature, composition, the history of costume, and costume making.

Throughout its history, the School seized opportunities to work alongside other programs at Carnegie-Mellon to develop new programs. In 1945, the School of Drama collaborated with the School of Engineering to offer radio acting courses using the University’s new student-run radio station. Later, in 1998, the School coupled with the School of Computer Science to create the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) which encouraged collaboration between students in order to generate technologically influenced art and theater projects.

The School of Drama began holding the annual “Showcase of New Plays” program which was discovered by School of Drama Artistic Director, Frank Gagliano, in 1987. The Showcase lasted until 1998 and gave students the opportunity to create, design, and direct their own plays with help from the CMU Drama staff. Participating students were given a $1000 stipend and presented their plays at the Carnegie Mellon Kresge and Studio Theaters at the end of the term. In 2003, the School of Drama created “Playground” – a one week, student-run festival which concluded with the presentation of short, 15-45 minute productions that were created as a result of collaborative efforts from School of Drama students and students from other programs. More recently, in 2011, the School of Drama integrated the John Wells Directing Program into its graduate curriculum, giving directing students opportunities to further develop their skills.

Due to the generosity of various alumni, the School of Drama has continuously expanded its facilities. Initially, the School of Drama utilized the Carnegie Theater in the College of Fine Arts (renamed to the Kresge Theater in 1974) for the majority of its productions until the elite Purnell Center for the Arts opened in 1998 with the financial help of notable alumni/donor, Verner S. Purnell. One year later, the Helen Wayne Rauh Theater was established by Richard E. Rauh, who also recently created the Centennial Fellowship Fund to aid future School of Drama students. In 2001, the School of Drama began operating out of the new Chosky Theater located inside the Purnell Center which constitutes as the School’s largest performance space.

The school’s alumni include household names in the theatre profession and entertainment industry who have become actors, directors, production designers, skilled technicians, and creative visionaries. Some of Carnegie Mellon’s drama alumni include iconic television stars, producers, and playwrights. Alumni have won Academy Awards® and Tony Awards® for their innovative work in set, costume and lighting design as well as in acting, directing and producing.


19.0 Linear feet (28 boxes, 23 volumes)




The School of Drama Photographs collection is primarly composed of photographs documenting productions staged by the School of Drama, starting with "The Two Gentlemen of Verona," in 1914. The colleciton offers evidence of trends in drama education and theatrical staging.

Related Archival Materials note

Additional materials related to this collection include: the School of Drama Records, the Elizabeth "Bess" Kimberley Collection, and the Lawrence Carra Collection.

Processing Information

Processed by Tara Goe, June 2010. Updated by Laure Bukh, October 2013. Updated by Julia Corrin, May 2015.

School of Drama Photographs, 1914-2005
Finding aid prepared by Tara Goe
July 8, 2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Carnegie Mellon University Archives Repository

4909 Frew St
Pittsburgh PA 15213
(412) 268-5021