A horizontal strip of costume sketches in crayon.

Child Drama Collection

Welcome: a new direction

A curator with a display board of costume elements from a play, including a colorful coral and seashell wreath.

The Child Drama Collection is the world's largest archival repository of manuscripts, ephemera, and educational materials related to the history of youth theatre. The collection contains over 2600 linear feet of manuscripts and over 700 print materials of plays dating back to the 16th century. The Child Drama Collection maintains and enhances access to rich and varied materials, from costumes to playbills, that reflect the rich history of professional performance and theatre education for young audiences. 

The collection provides insight into the history and development of the field of theatre for young audiences, the implementation of drama in education programs, theatre in education, and, with it, of the performing arts for young audiences worldwide. The various materials document the history of the field, the educational work of its practitioners and form its memory.

It is an invaluable resource for scholars into the field’s methodology and pedagogy, includes materials providing theoretical and practical documentation on theatre education from preschool to high school, arts curriculum and training, standards and assessment, management and practices, artistry and plays for young audiences.

The field of Theatre for Young Audiences has undergone a radical change in the past 10 years. There is a groundswell of emerging artists, BIPOC theatre companies, and groups committed to doing devising work. This goes straight to the heart of the tensions and complexities of our society. Youth are at the center of this work, with an extraordinary new growth of programs that place youth center stage and empower them to tell their own stories.

What is our mission?

We are becoming an inclusive archive available for every person we serve. We are one of the rarest collections in the world, and hope to serve anyone with a passion and interest in theatre for youth and community. This includes artists, teaching artists, scholars, educators, administrators, students, and youth themselves. We recognize the value of telling a history of theatre for young audiences and educators, which also acknowledging that this is not the only story. We celebrate this history, while also acknowledging the gaps and missing perspectives. A more inclusive, holistic history of the field is what we aspire to be.

What do we collect?

This collection operates under the belief that there is no singular way to create work for young audiences and no singular canon that defines the field. We collect and preserve materials documenting the international histories of professional theatre for young audiences, youth theatre, and theatre education from the 16th century to present day.

Want to view this collection?

Access to the Child Drama Collection is by appointment only. To view materials, please make an appointment at least five business days prior to your visit by contacting Ask an Archivist or calling 480-965-4932.

Appointments are available Monday through Friday in the Wurzburger Reading Room at Hayden Library (rm. 138) on the Tempe campus. Check the ASU Library hours page for current availability.  


Ask an Archivist

Work we're passionate about

Costumes, scripts, designs and ephemera

Arizona State University’s Child Drama Collection attracts scholars, playwrights, performers and students from around the globe. Here, Katherine Krzys, former curator of the collection, walks us through the world’s largest repository of materials related to children’s theatre.

Picture of Caelin Ross

Caelin Ross

Performing Arts Librarian, Curator of the Child Drama Collection