Selected Special Collections
Richard L. Coe Collection of Theater Programs
Programs and playbills from American theaters and some foreign productions published from the early 1900s to the late 1970s, many with the collector's annotations, (approximately 5,000 items).
Richard Livingston Coe (1914‑1995), born in New York, NY was a theater and cinema critic for The Washington Post for more than fifty years. Coe was considered a unique critic, who expressed more of the positive rather than the negative in his support for actors.
One of the more notable contributions to Washington theatre was Coe's early efforts, and editorial participation to establish The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. He is also credited for being a major voice in the effort to end racial discrimination of African Americans attending The National Theatre (Washington, D.C.), prior to the civil rights movement in the United States.
Coe was a close friend of Washington native and actress, Helen Hayes, "First Lady of the American Theatre", and was contacted by a group of individuals seeking to secure her participation in establishing The Helen Hayes Awards, also in Washington, D.C. Coe received the Critic of the Year award by the Directors Guild of America in 1963, and is an inductee in The College of Fellows of the American Theatre.
Background of the collection:
Collection consists of approximately5,000 programs and playbills from American theaters and some foreign productions published from the early 1900s to the late 1970s, many with the collector's annotations. LC acquired the collection in the early 1980s. Items are arranged alphabetically by title of production.
The following theaters are particularly well represented:
Washington, D.C.: Arena Stage, Ford's Theater, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National Theater, New Gayety Theater, and the Shubert Theater.
Maryland: The Olney Theatre in Maryland.
New York City: Belasco Theater, Ethel Barrymore Theater, Guild Theater, Henry Miller's Theater, and the New York Shakespeare Festival as well as many off-Broadway venues.
Also contains programs from England and France, press releases, newspaper clippings, miscellaneous announcements, and typewritten and handwritten notes.
See American Theatre Programs of the Twentieth Century for more details.
Also see: The Richard L. Coe Early Scrapbook Finding Aid.