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Finding aid for the Doris Cook Federal Theatre at Golden Gate International Exposition Collection, 1937-1940 (bulk 1939)
SFH 44  
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Papers from Doris Cook's tenure with the Works Progress Administration's (WPA) Federal Theatre on Treasure Island, where she served as Assistant Director of Information from Jan. 20-July 14, 1939. Types of material include reports, production calendars, programs, research notes, clippings, articles, correspondence, publicity documents, and a small amount of ephemera. Some materials are issued by or pertain to the Federal Theatre at the national level.
The Federal Theatre Project was one of four Arts projects set up in the late summer of 1935 under the Works Progress Administration as a work relief program to employ thousands of jobless writers, artists, musicians, actors and others in the theatre. Informed by the changing politics and shifting social order of the day, the Federal Theatre sought to create theatre that was not simply entertaining, but also relevant to all Americans. This aim resulted in such unusual productions as The Swing Mikado, One-Third of a Nation (an expose of housing conditions in New York City) and the topical "Living Newspaper" plays. In keeping with its grassroots precepts, the organization formed regional units in cities and states all over the country, and presented its productions not only in city theatres, but also "in Catholic convents and Baptist churches, circus tents and university halls, police stations, showboats and CCC [Civilian Conservation Corps] camps." The Federal Theatre's repertory consisted of children's plays, Shakespeare, O'Neill, new African-American plays, Yiddish musical theatre, Gilbert and Sullivan, circus performances, puppet shows, and productions in French, Spanish, Italian and German. Inherent in the Federal Theatre Project's threefold design --as a relief measure, a work program, and an artistic experiment-- were unresolvable conflicts that led to the project's demise in June of 1939 when appropriations committees in Congress did not approve continued funding.
1 box (0.5 cubic feet)
Copyright has been assigned to the San Francisco Public Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the City Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the San Francisco Public Library as the owner of the physical items and the copyright.
The collection is open for research.