Within the City of York there are a number of collections of playbills which were published to accompany productions at theatres in Yorkshire. The oldest of these, dating back to the mid eighteenth century, and collected by the antiquarian and bibliophile, Edward Hailstone (1818-1890), were bequeathed to the Dean and Chapter of York Minster and placed in the York Minster Library as part of what is now called the Hailstone Collection.
Further playbills from the Yorkshire Theatres are deposited with York City Archive. These cover much of the nineteenth century, although there are gaps in the collection from the latter part of the century. There are also both playbills and posters in the post 1945 Theatre Royal Archive Collection housed at York St John University. Many of the playbills from these collections provide historical detail and unwitting testimony which illuminates the social and political history of the time.
Part of the agreement between the Theatre Royal and York St John University in respect to the Theatre Royal Archive, was to look at the eventual digitisation of the collection. It was felt that a collaborative pilot project between all parties (to include the University of York which hosts the cataloguing records of the York Minster Library) to digitise a small number of playbills as a pilot project, would afford a superb platform for, and generate interest in, the playbills themselves and the Theatre Royal Archive generally. There would also be the added possibility that further playbills, from the 'missing' period of the nineteenth century, would be discovered and added to the collections.
Staff at City of York Libraries and Archives, the University of York, York Minster Library, York St John University and York Theatre Royal.
With particular thanks to Nigel, for scanning and manipulating the digital images of the playbills and posters.