University of Wisconsin-Madison Wisconsin Historical Society homepage WCFTR homepage
WCFTR Collections
WCFTR is...


Researchers at the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research may study more than a century of cinema, radio, television, and theater through moving images, visual materials and manuscripts. Collections donated by some of Hollywood's most renowned directors, producers, screenwriters and actors, often augmented by viewing copies of their most significant works, provide complementary documentation for both the art and business of Hollywood's Golden Age, as well as more modern independent and experimental filmmaking. The Center's television collections are especially rich for the pre-videotape era, when programs were either broadcast live and copied onto kinescope or produced and broadcast using film. The history of the Broadway stage and important regional theaters can be traced through the manuscripts, photographs and other visual materials.


The Center’s collection of moving image materials and manuscript collections related to the film industry.

Television and Radio

Radio and TV

Thousands of radio and television programs plus the papers of significant figures.



The archives of some of the most significant figures in the American theater.


Photos & Promotional Materials

FilmStill photos, posters, pressbooks, playbills, and a wealth of graphic material on film, radio, television, and theater.

Featured Collection: Papers of Edith Head
Danny Kaye with two colleagues.

A remarkable example of the overlaps between Hollywood, radio, and American political history, the HDC collection demonstrates what happens when stars, artists and scientists redefine “political actor.” These papers include materials created by Olivia de Havilland, Vincent Price, Norman Corwin, Albert Einstein, and many others.

A still from Chelovek Amfibiia in which a younger man talks to an older man.

This feature explores the WCFTR's extensive collection of films produced in the post-War Soviet Union. Its holdings reflect broader trends in its entertainment industry and the emergence of popular genres.

A still of Charlton Heston, left, conversing with others in Studio One

The WCFTR includes many collections relating to the "Golden Age" of American live television drama in the 1950s, including the corporate papers of NBC as well as papers of numerous television producers, writers, and directors—among them Fred Coe, Rod Serling, and John Frankenheimer.

This exhibition highlights the collections at the WCFTR related to the Hollywood Blacklist of the late-1940s to the early-1960s, including the collections of screenwriter and author Dalton Trumbo, and writer and folk musician Millard Lampell, among others.

A still from Clodhopper

This collection documents the production activities of several major studios, units, and filmmakers affiliated with the Aitkens and includes scripts, photos, promotional materials, company ledgers, legal records, and correspondence with Hollywood luminaries.

Robert Altman, right, in candid on-set photograph

Drawing on several WCFTR collections, this feature explores Robert Altman's early career. He would work as a director of trade films in Kansas City, direct episodes of television series, and emerge as a New Hollywood Auteur with M*A*S*H (1970).

The cast of The State

The collection of Steven Starr, a 1980 graduate of UW Madison, spans his career as writer, director, producer, and new media entrepreneur, including his tenure as co-creator and co-producer of the MTV sketch comedy series The State (1993-1995).

Photo of Gary Cooper

These slide shows demonstrate the richness and depth of the WCFTR’s graphics collections, focusing on subjects from Gary Cooper to the Ed Sullivan Show and theatrical productions of Hamlet.

Photo of Edith Head

The legendary costume designer donated many of her writings and costume sketches to the WCFTR. Find information about her career and sketches from films including All About Eve, Sabrina, and Wives and Lovers here.

Photo of man in radio laboratory

The WHS has a number of collections relating to radio at UW Madison, early broadcasting on WHA, and Madison's first commercial station, WIBA.

Kirk Douglas in costume

One of Hollywood’s most luminous stars, and an innovative independent producer, Douglas also led in the donation of his papers to the WCFTR.  Find information and selected digitized materials from his archive here.


Copyright © 2007-2013 WCFTR
WCFTR Home page Wisconsin Historical Society University of Wisconsin-Madison