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Project Members:

Johan Boshoff (Project Manager,

ANDS Contact:

Alan Glixman (

Project Status:

In Progress

Campbell Howard Collection of Australian Plays Open Data

University of New England

Project Description

The Campbell Howard Collection of Australian Plays in Manuscript held in the Dixson Library at the University of New England is a unique set of research materials relating primarily to the period 1920-1955. The Collection contains some 300 plays in manuscript or typescript as well as published plays, theatre programmes, correspondence and research files. The original Collection was put together by Campbell Howard in the early 1950’s and 1960’s, and also contains manuscripts of plays placed in the Collection since that time, many of these acquired by Winifred Leask.

The body of plays in the Collection offers an invaluable picture of the development of Australian drama and theatre in a significant phase of its history. Many of the plays have been performed but never published and reveal a transformative period in Australian history, offering social comment on indigenous affairs, class, war and the ANZACs, politics, nationalism and much more.

Research in theatre studies particularly is always difficult because live performance is rarely filmed. Therefore researchers rely on scripts, reviews, photographs, prompt copies, stage manager reports, diaries, letters and other materials (held in the Collection) in order to understand drama and theatre as well as to understand the literary networks that affected the composition, performance history and reception of plays. Moreover play scripts in and of themselves offer historical evidence and therefore this Collection offers a wealth of data for historians.

Digitising the plays with associated material, and making the collection visible and available online will allow researchers in a variety of disciplines such as Literary Studies, History, Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, to analyse the plays in their historical context, to use them for performance as well as to undertake comparative analysis of drama in the period and periods before and after the composition period of the plays in the collection.

The digitisation of this Collection will make available unpublished plays of a particularly rich period in Australian history available to researchers for the first time. Researchers in Australia and abroad will be able to utilise the scripts for all of their work in literary and theatre history.

This project will digitise and expose 15 plays and associated material of the Campbell Howard collection.

The importance of this project is that it will allow the Library to develop procedures and to test systems that will be used to inform their open data and digitisation strategies currently under development.

The ANDS Open Data Collection funding will not be used to fund the digitisation of the collection as this will be funded by in-kind effort by the University. The end result of this project is that plays and associated material will be brought together, richly described, and made discoverable through AustLit and other portals such as Research Data Australia.

Data Type:

Play manuscripts and associated material