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New Digital Collections: UT Theatre Playbills and a Student Magazine

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville Libraries announces two new digital collections. Theatre playbills and an early student publication drawn from the University Archives are the newest digital collections available on the UT Libraries’ website at

Playbill-1UT THEATRE PLAYBILLS. The University of Tennessee Theatre Playbills Collection showcases the history of theatre at the University of Tennessee from 1935 productions by the Faculty Players to the current season of the Clarence Brown Theatre Company, an affiliate of the exclusive League of Resident Theatres.

Ephemeral theatre groups were active on UT’s campus as early as the 1830s, but the earliest extant playbills date to productions by the Faculty Players, a club composed of faculty and spouses that brought a new level of seriousness to campus theatre in the 1930s.

UT’s theatre program began as a one-year course within the English department in 1940 and became a full-fledged department of speech and theatre in 1968. A Master of Fine Arts program was added in 1980.

The campus’ first permanent theatre space was the Carousel arena theatre, completed in 1953. The Clarence Brown Theatre opened in 1970 and was dedicated to the legendary filmmaker and UT alum whose generous gifts funded both the proscenium theatre and the professional company.

UT’s theatre program has had an illustrious history, hosting world premier productions and an international exchange of artists. Theatre enthusiasts who browse the online playbill collection will encounter productions starring renowned actors such as Mary Martin, Zoe Caldwell, John Cullum, Dame Judith Anderson, and Sir Anthony Quayle.

Mugwump-1MUGWUMP. Mugwump was a University of Tennessee student publication that ran from November 1920 until 1932. A combination of college humor and literary material, Mugwump chronicles student life and highlights student creativity through stories, essays, poetry, as well as student-drawn cartoons and artwork.

The artwork is a jaunt through 1920s fashions, from the short skirts and bobbed hair of the flapper to fellas in knickerbockers or “Oxford Bags.” Stories, cartoons and even the advertisements are a window on students’ concerns, from dating to dance crazes to doing laundry. Some cartoons also reflect the entrenched racist attitudes of the times.

Mugwump rewards even casual browsing, if only to enjoy the often humorous — and sometimes beautifully drawn — cover art.

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