Ringling Theatre Collection (University of Florida)

Newsboy (Photographer). Harriett Vernon. 19th c. Image and original data provided by the University of Florida Digital Collections.

The Department of Special Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida has contributed 5,000 images from the Ringling Theatre Collection to the Artstor Digital Library. The selection in Artstor offers comprehensive imagery from the rich resource that traces the history of stagecraft in Europe and America from Shakespearean prints through to the 20th century.

The  Collection features productions and personalities, including posters and heralds, souvenir photographs and prints of iconic performers, numerous stage and publicity stills of 20th-century plays and films, and hundreds of photographs of the legendary and now forgotten stars of minstrel, vaudeville and burlesque—idols of a bygone era.

In the 1990s, the Ringling Theatre Collection was purchased by the University of Florida (UF) from the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida. It is one several housed in the Belknap Collection for the Performing Arts at the George A. Smathers Libraries. Founded in 1958 by Sarah Yancy Belknap, a New York Librarian and an avid patron of the arts, the Belknap Collection is an eclectic mixture of primary research material, much of it ephemera from 19th and 20th Century Europe and America. The George A. Smathers Libraries is a consortium of six libraries in the UF system. For related collections in the Artstor Digital Library, see The Ringling Museum of Art (Florida State University) and The Ringling Circus Museum (Florida State University).