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American Conservatory Theater Records

Identifier: 0002-12

Scope and Contents note

The American Conservatory Theater Collection fully chronicles the early years of the program (1965-1970). The collection includes information about the establishment of the A.C.T., its early newsletters, and a significant amount of articles and clippings concerning its work. The collection contents are arranged alphabetically.


  • 1965-1970

Biographical/Historical note

The American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) was established in Pittsburgh by William Ball in 1965 with a (Rockefeller) Ford Foundation Matching Grant. The A.C.T. combined seasoned actors with beginners: the beginning actors would learn from the experience of the former and also get real stage experience, while the seasoned actors would attend classes to perfect their craft.

Early members of the A.C.T. were required to attend classes taught by William Ball and perform in almost 30 shows per year. An agreement with the Carnegie Institute of Technology and the Pittsburgh Playhouse provided the American Conservatory Theater with classrooms to teach in and a stage in which to perform. The initiative was an immediate success, heralded by the Pittsburgh Press as the return of theater culture to Pittsburgh.

In 1966, the American Conservatory Theater moved to what is now its permanent home in the historic Geary Theater in San Francisco, California. Many of the plays put on by the A.C.T. were televised nationally on PBS including “The Taming of the Shrew”, and “Cyrano de Bergerac”. In 1979 the American Conservatory Theater received a Tony Award for outstanding theater performance and training.


0.25 Linear feet (8 Folders)




The American Conservatory Theater Collection consists of materials pertaining to the original mission, activities, and productions of the A.C.T. during the years 1965-1970.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

It is unknown how this collection originally arrived at the Carnegie Mellon University archives. The American Conservatory Theater Collection was maintained by the archives as part of the School of Drama records until the material was deaccessioned in 2014 and currently exists as its own collection.

Related Archival Materials note

Additional information on the American Conservatory Theater can be found within the William Ball Papers.

American Conservatory Theater Records, 1965-1970
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