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Federal Theatre Project collection

Call Number: MS 142


A collection of 21 plays, studies, and other works, in 23 volumes, produced by (or related to) the Federal Theatre Project, a division of the Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.). The collection represents primarily research studies and reports (particularly as pertains to theatre history), and a small number of play and radio scripts. Many of the items in this collection indicate they came out of the Region of the West and/or the Research Bureau.


  • Creation: between 1935 and 1939


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

History of the Federal Theatre Project

The Federal Theatre Project (FTP) was a small part of the Works Progress Administration, the system of public works put in place by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1930s during the Great Depression in the United States. The FTP hired actors, designers, directors, writers, technicians, ushers, and other theatre personnel to stage shows for free or at low cost to audiences across the nation. The FTP operated in 40 states and employeed over 10,000 people, organized into units that shared material, designs, and staging ideas across different geographical areas.

Productions were heavily scrutinized by conservatives, who thought President Roosevelt was using the program politically. Facing heavy criticism from its inception, the funding for the FTP was not renewed and the project shut down in 1939.

[Information retrieved from "Federal Theatre Project," Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance, Dennis Kennedy, ed., 2005.]


1.25 linear foot (3 document cases)

Language of Materials



Items came to Spencer Research Library numbered but not in a complete sequence. Items remain in this numerical sequence and are described as such in this finding aid.

Physical Location

MS 142

Guide to the Federal Theatre Project Collection
Federal Theatre Project collection
Finding aid prepared by alh. Finding aid encoded by mwh, 2020. Finding aid revised by mwh, 2022.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Federal Theatre Project collection, MS 142, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States