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May 04, 2012

"Pantomime by Member of Play House Group Opens New Home”

Thus did the December 9, 1917 Cleveland Plain Dealer announce the opening of the Cleveland Play House’s new home at East 73rd and Cedar. The first production in its new home was an original pantomime, The Garden of Semiramis, written and directed by Olive Russell.

Although we haven’t finished processing all the production records, we believe this is the earliest production photo in the collection. The print is an enlarged reproduction, which accounts for much of the blurring.

SemiramisAnnounce.jpg SemiramisPhoto.jpg

For those interested in the archival behind-the-scenes details, the first phase of processing the nearly 1,300-foot Cleveland Play House Archives is proceeding on two parallel tracks. On one track archivists are producing summary box-level descriptions, linking boxes to series, and identifying additional physical processing needed (re-foldering, conservation treatment, etc.). This will allow us to begin answering users’ questions before the collection is fully processed as well as help us plan next steps. We’ve completed around 250 boxes and our average time is 3.5 minutes per box. (Rigid self-control and peer pressure are necessary to resist the temptation to delve deeply into the boxes at this stage.)

On the other track, our students have begun creating detailed descriptions of series that need little or no additional processing and that we believe will be in high demand. The first such series is production photographs. For the seasons from 1917/18 through 2003/4 there are over 1,100 productions for which we have photographs. Skillful work by Cleveland Play House staff before the collection was donated to Kelvin Smith Library resulted in photographs that are properly housed, well-labelled, and well-organized. Our students are building on this good work by transcribing folder labels to create a basic searchable inventory. That effort went faster than anticipated (1.5 minutes per folder). The next step, just getting started, is to prepare the photographs for digitization and to transcribe image labels to capture searchable details (Do we have any pictures of Margaret Hamilton? In what seasons was Antigone produced?). These descriptions will be turned into metadata accompanying the digital images when we begin digitization – Soon, Very Soon.

Posted by jmt3 at May 4, 2012 07:38 PM

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