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Joan Dillon papers

 Collection 0190-MDHC
Joan Kent Dillon (1925-2009) was a nationally known historic preservation activist, having served on the Board of Directors of the National Trust for Historic Preservation from 1980 to 1989 and of the Smithsonian Institution beginning in 1989. A long-time resident of Kansas City, Dillon began her involvement with historic theaters in 1974, when she purchased the Folly Theater in the city center. Over the next thirteen years she raised more than $5 million to renovate the former burlesque hall. Her activities with the Folly Theater led to her involvement with the League of Historic American Theaters (LHAT), on whose Board of Directors she served after 1978. Through her growing involvement with theaters, she met David Naylor, a photographer and author of two books on American movie theaters. Together they decided to pursue Dillon's longstanding idea of a book on nineteenth-century American theaters. In the period between 1994 and 1996, they traveled extensively, viewing, evaluating, and photographing theaters throughout the United States. The resulting book, American Theaters: Performance Halls of the Nineteenth Century, appeared in 1997. The papers focus exclusively on the research, preparation and publication of American Theaters: Performance Halls of the Nineteenth Century. The collection documents theaters included in the book, as well as theaters that were considered for inclusion but rejected. There are also a large number of photographs and slides of theaters documented in the files.

Dates

  • 1862-1998
  • Majority of material found within 1993-1997

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.

Extent

10.25 Linear Feet

Scope and Contents

The Joan Dillon papers span the years 1862 to 1998 and focus exclusively on the research, preparation and publication of American Theaters: Performance Halls of the Nineteenth Century (New York: Preservation Press of John Wiley and Sons, 1997). The collection documents theaters included in the book, as well as theaters that were considered for inclusion but rejected. There are also a large number of photographs and slides of theaters documented in the files. Working files from the publication process are also part of the collection, including correspondence from Dillon to Naylor, grant applications, and lists and indexes of theaters being considered for inclusion in the book. The collection also contains materials documenting the publication of the book, including press releases and reviews.

Biographical / Historical

Joan Kent Dillon (1925-2009) was a nationally known historic preservation activist, having served on the Board of Directors of the National Trust for Historic Preservation from 1980 to 1989 and of the Smithsonian Institution beginning in 1989. A 1947 graduate of Smith College, she also earned an M.A. in History from the University of Missouri in 1969. A long-time resident of Kansas City, Dillon began her involvement with historic theaters in 1974, when she purchased the Folly Theater in the city center. Over the next thirteen years she raised more than $5 million to renovate the former burlesque hall. Her activities with the Folly Theater led to her involvement with the League of Historic American Theaters (LHAT), on whose Board of Directors she served after 1978. Through her growing involvement with theaters, she met David Naylor, a photographer and author of two books on American movie theaters. Together they decided to pursue Dillon's longstanding idea of a book on nineteenth-century American theaters. With support from LHAT and other theater organizations, they obtained a publishing contract with the Preservation Press. In the period between 1994 and 1996, they traveled extensively, viewing, evaluating, and photographing theaters throughout the United States. The resulting book, American Theaters: Performance Halls of the Nineteenth Century

Arrangement

The papers of Joan Dillon have been divided into five series
Series 1
Theaters
Series 2
Working Files
Series 3
Indexes
Series 4
Photographs
Series 5
Slides

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Joan Dillon donated the collection to the University of Maryland Libraries in April 2003.

Related Material

A copy of American Theaters: Performance Halls in the Nineteenth Century by David Naylor and Joan Dillon is located in the National Trust Library for Historic Preservation Library Collection at the University of Maryland (NA6830 .N38 1997 Folio). The University of Maryland Libraries' Archives and Manuscripts Department also holds the Gene A. Chesley Collection of Historic American Theatres. The bulk of the Chesley Collection concerns research conducted for the National List of Historic Theatre Buildings, as well as Chesley's involvement in restoration projects undertaken during the 1970s.

Processing Information

The collection was very well-organized when it was received. Reorganization was limited to removing photographs from the individual files on theaters and placing them into Series IV, Photographs. Separation sheets were placed in the relevant files to indicate these changes. Original boxes and folders, which were acidic, were replaced with acid-free containers. Acidic papers, such as newspaper articles, were photocopied on archival bond and replaced. Staples were removed; acid-free paper interfiled between photographs, and slides were placed into archival mylar sleeves.
Title
Guide to the Joan Dillon papers
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Peter Curtis.
Date
2003-10-01
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

Contact:
University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742
301-405-9212