Preservation and Access: Humanities Collections and Reference Resources

Period of Performance

5/1/2013 - 4/30/2016

Funding Totals

$200,000.00 (approved)
$200,000.00 (awarded)

Digitizing and Creating Access to the Audiovisual Collection in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Archives

FAIN: PW-51283-13

Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Ashland, OR 97520-0158)
Maria DeWeerdt (Project Director: July 2012 to August 2016)

The cataloging and digitization of 3,098 items in an audiovisual collection that documents the performance history of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF), among the oldest and largest professional regional repertory theater companies in the United States. The materials will be cataloged and digitized along with a six-volume, 900-page descriptive finding aid for the audio collection.

Digitization of 3,098 deteriorating films, audiotapes and videos that comprise a comprehensive record of Shakespeare and theatrical performance by a single U.S. theater company. The digitized recordings and a descriptive finding aid will be freely accessible on-line. The collection documents the eight-decade history of one of the oldest and largest repertory theaters in the country and holds essential insights into the origin of the Shakespearean festival tradition in the United States and its impact in individual American communities and on a national level.

Media Coverage

“Shakespeare Festival History Comes Alive” (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Edith Decker
Publication: Grants Pass Daily Courier
Date: 2/12/2015
Abstract: Article about overall Oregon Shakespeare Festival Digitization project.

“Shakespeare Festival's 80th Anniversary” (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Ron Browne
Publication: KDRV-TV Oregon Trails segment
Date: 3/6/2015
Abstract: Video and transcript of Oregon Trails segment. On-air portion of broadcast talked about Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s digitization project.

Associated Products

“Digitization: charting a course through a 21st century frontier” Workshop (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: “Digitization: charting a course through a 21st century frontier” Workshop
Author: Debra Griffith
Abstract: Presented as part of a panel. Ms. Griffith outlined the steps involved and issues to be aware of when beginning a digitization project using the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s (OSF) digitization project as an example. Digitized materials from the OSF collection were used to illustrate the talk.
Date: 04/23/2015
Conference Name: Oregon Heritage Conference

“Stay Four Days, See Four Plays”; preserving the audiovisual collection of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: “Stay Four Days, See Four Plays”; preserving the audiovisual collection of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Author: Debra Griffith
Author: Gwyn Hervochon
Abstract: Two presenters from Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) gave an overview of OSF’s digitization project at the American Society for Theatre Research/Theatre Library Association combined meeting. A summary follows. From 1996-1999, longtime OSF company member, Carl Ritchie (nearly 50 years as an actor, director, playwright and OSF’s first year-round publicity director in the 1950s and 1960s), conducted a detailed inventory of OSF’s audio collection—nearly 2,000 reel-to-reel and cassette tapes documenting productions back to 1950. Ritchie listened to each recording, identified its contents and created an innovative categorization scheme resulting in a six volume, 900+ page catalog. As a result, the OSF Archives had a well-organized audio collection offering a connection to OSF’s past that otherwise would have been lost. However, following the project’s completion, the tapes were restricted due to fragility and remained inaccessible for more than a decade. When the OSF Archives began preparing materials for a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Preservation and Access grant in 2012, Ritchie’s work formed the foundation of the proposal. His catalog served as a guide, and his urgent calls for action to save many deteriorating tapes remain an ongoing inspiration. The NEH grant is funding the digitization of 2,655 audiovisual items, most from Ritchie’s catalog. The majority of these materials will be available to the research community online in 2016 and stand as a testament to one man’s dedication and foresight.
Date: 11/6/2015
Conference Name: American Society for Theatre Research/Theatre Library Association combined meeting

OSF Archives YouTube playlist (Exhibition)
Title: OSF Archives YouTube playlist
Curator: Debra Griffith
Abstract: Playlist including 59 films and audio recordings digitized through the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s (OSF) NEH-funded digitization project. This material is freely available to researchers and the public. There are currently over 2,200 viewings. A sample video is listed in the ‘secondary URL’ section.
Year: 2013
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) Archives Playlist containing audio and video materials from OSF’s collections, 1929-1975.
Secondary URL:
Secondary URL Description: YouTube video for an oral history titled, “Carl Ritchie on the Festival and Ashland in 1950.”

History Movie Night! (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: History Movie Night!
Abstract: Ongoing series of public viewing events showcasing recently-digitized films and videos from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Archives. Topics have included the work of Carl Ritchie, early promotional footage, 50th anniversary events and our founder’s home movies from the early 1930s that capture the first four seasons of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Author: Debra Griffith
Date: 06/01/2013
Location: Carpenter Hall, on the Oregon Shakespeaer Festival campus

Thinking Globally, Acting Locally: The Oregon Shakespeare Festival Archives (Article)
Title: Thinking Globally, Acting Locally: The Oregon Shakespeare Festival Archives
Author: Gwyn Hervochon
Abstract: Article focusing on the history of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Archives and our plans to digitize the audiovisual collection through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Year: 2012
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Winter 2012/2013 issue of Performance! Newsletter of the SAA Performing Arts Roundtable. Article begins on page 8.
Format: Other
Periodical Title: Performance! Newsletter of the Society of American Archivists Performing Arts Roundtable
Publisher: Society of American Archivists