April 2, 2012 Library of Congress Acquires Lee Strasberg Collection

Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022

The Library of Congress has acquired the initial portion of the personal papers of the American director, producer, actor and acting teacher Lee Strasberg (1901-1982), internationally known for his development of method acting in the Stanislavsky tradition, which deeply influenced performance in American theater and film. The collection has come to the Library as a generous donation by Strasberg’s widow, Anna Strasberg of New York City, who noted that she joins son Adam Strasberg in making this gift to the Library of Congress.

“I am absolutely delighted that Lee’s collection is coming to the Library of Congress, where it will be preserved, made accessible, and join other great collections related to American theater,” said Anna Strasberg. “Our family is unanimous in the opinion that the Library of Congress is the ideal place,” she added.

Method acting, a technique which became popular in the United States in the 1940s and 1950s, is characterized by actors’ attempts to give their roles greater realism by making connections between those roles and their own emotions from the past.

Lee Strasberg co-founded the legendary Group Theatre, was artistic director of the Actors’ Studio in New York City, and founded the Lee Strasberg Institutes in New York City and Los Angeles.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said, “The Lee Strasberg Collection is of major significance because it documents a crucial chapter of the nation’s theatrical history. Often referred to as the father of method acting in America, Strasberg trained several generations of our most illustrious talents, including Anne Bancroft, Dustin Hoffman, Montgomery Clift, James Dean, Julie Harris, Paul Newman, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and the director Elia Kazan.”

The Library of Congress has received approximately 240 archival boxes containing a wide array of material amassed by Strasberg during his long career, including correspondence, rehearsal notes, drafts of publications and lectures, project files, photographs, theatrical drawings and posters, sketches of stage designs, appointment books, address books, press clippings, acting-class rosters, play scripts and playbills. The papers will be housed in the Library’s Manuscript Division.

The Lee Strasberg Collection is a rich addition to other outstanding theatrical holdings of the Library of Congress, such as the papers of Eva LeGallienne, Lillian Gish, Sid Caesar, Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy, Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin, Rouben Mamoulian and Joshua Logan (all in the Manuscript Division), and the papers of Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Martha Graham, Richard Rodgers, Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon, George and Ira Gershwin, Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine (in the Music Division).

Researchers, scholars, aspiring actors and other artists will be able to use the Strasberg Collection once it has been fully processed.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 151 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at www.loc.gov.


PR 12-063
ISSN 0731-3527