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We are happy to announce that Lucy Waldrop will join Special Collections in September as the project archivist on the Helen and Newton Harrison papers project. This is an NEH-funded project and will conclude in February 2016. Lucy comes to us from Wichita State University, where as a project archivist, she processed several large collections including that of photographer and film director Gordon Parks. The Harrison collection is a significant acquisition and this preservation and processing project is one of several art projects being undertaken by Special Collections in collaboration with the Art Library in the coming year. 

Keith Johnstone in Holland, 2010

The University Archives is pleased to announce the acquisition of the Keith Johnstone papers. Johnstone, a British and Canadian pioneer of improvisational theatre, is best known for inventing the Impro System and Theatresports, the latter of which has become a staple of modern improvisational comedy and is the inspiration for the television shows such as "Whose Line Is It Anyway?." As an educator, playwright, actor and theatre director Johnstone's ideas about improvisation, behaviour and performance appeal to a wide variety of groups. From actors to psychotherapists, improvisation companies to theatre schools and companies, business and management training specialists and humanities research institutes, universities and film production companies have invited him to come to teach them about his ideas, and how they might apply them.

Born February, 1933, in Devon, England, Johnstone grew up hating school, finding that it blunted his imagination and made him feel self-conscious and shy. In the late 1950s, as a play-reader, director and drama teacher at the Royal Court Theatre in London, he chose to reverse all that his teachers had told him in an attempt to create more spontaneous actors. During his tenure at the London Royal Court Theatre in the 1950s and 60s, Johnstone developed a series of improvisational exercises to help playwrights overcome writer’s block by short-circuiting the natural tendency to edit themselves. His book, Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre (1979), describes Johnstone's unique system of training: weaving together theories and techniques to encourage spontaneous, collaborative creation using the intuition and imagination of the actors. Johnstone has since become world-renowned, inspiring theatre greats and beginners alike; and his work continues to influence practice within and beyond the traditional theatre. You can see Johnstone's techniques in action at BATS Improv in San Francisco or here on the farm by the Stanford Improvisers (SImps). 

The Johnstone papers consist of original plays, writings, correspondence, theatrical materials, journals, artwork, and more.

Blanche Thebom as Laura, in La Gioconda

The Archive of Recorded Sound recently processed a number of important additions to the Blanche Thebom Collection (ARS.0059), courtesy of Phyllis Villec, a close friend of Thebom's for many years. These additions include a substantial number of programs, newspaper clippings, correspondence, ephemera, photographs, and personal documents spanning the mezzo-soprano's career.  

James Roderick Lilley (1928-2009) was an American diplomat who was the ambassador to China during the time of the Tiananmen Square protests. The youngest of three children, he was born to American parents in China and was educated in American schools there until he returned to the US in 1940. After graduation from Yale University in 1951, he was employed by the CIA from 1951-1978 and worked in various Asian countries. He served as director of the American Institute in Taiwan from 19981-1984, Ambassador to South Korea from 1986-1989, and Ambassador to China from 1989-1991. He was Assistant Secretary of Defense from 1991-1993, and upon retirement from government service worked at the American Enterprise Institute. His memoir China Hands: nine decades of adventure, espionage, and diplomacy in Asia was published in 2004.

Please join us in welcoming our newest team member Owen Ellis, who started on June 2nd as the project archivist for the William Hewlett papers. This is a two year processing project based at our new Redwood City location.

Owen relocated from Virginia, where he was employed by History Associates for the past three years. He was involved in processing various collections for the National Park Services working at the Shenandoah National Park, the Saratoga National Historical Park, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park and the Keweenaw National Historical Park. Prior to that Owen was employed at the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan where he received his master’s in library and information science. 

The Stanford Libraries recently acquired a collection of 214 libretti of French opera and ballets in first and early editions, from the 17th-19th centuries. The major concentration is in 18th-century material, with significant representation of the works of major composers of the period, Dalayrac, Duni, Grétry, Lully, Monsigny, Philidor, Alexandre Piccinni and Nicolas Piccinni. The inclusion of first and early editions provides the opportunity for comparison of first performances and revivals. Libretti are important records of performance history, often including details such as names of the cast, choreographers, set designers, dancers, and other musicians involved in the production.

ASSU Hymns for Sunday School Teachers (Philadelphia, 1826)

Two years after its founding in 1824, the American Sunday School Union published Hymns for Sunday School Teachers, a copy of which is now in the Music Library. Measuring a mere 10 cm. in height and 76 pages in length, it may be one of the smallest items in our collections.  It joins 17 other publications by the Union in the Stanford Libraries.

Donald Pippin, Artistic Director of Pocket Opera

Since 1952 Donald Pippin has been a part of the musical life of San Francisco. He is best known as the founder of Pocket Opera, which started in 1977 with the purpose of making opera more accessible to the average concert goer by presenting opera in unique English language translations with a small chamber ensemble. The Donald Pippin Collection consists primarily of Pippin's English translations of opera librettos available as pdf files. Follow the links in the finding aid to download the files.

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