Course:ARST575K/LIBR539H/Seattle Theatre Group Library and Archive

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Seattle Theatre Group Archive and Gallery
Seattle Theatre Group Logo
Type Community Organization Archive
Focus History of theaters and performances of theaters in Seattle
Founders Seattle Theatre Group; Lynn and Marian Thrasher
Location 911 Pine Street Suites 401 and 402, Seattle, WA 98101
Established 2012

The Seattle Theatre Group Archive and Gallery is located in Seattle, WA at the historic Paramount Theatre Office Tower and also accessible online through the Seattle Theatre Group (STG) website.[1] Opening it's doors to the public on March 1, 2012 to coincide with the 84th birthday of the Paramount Theatre, it was initially named the Seattle Theatre Group Historic Theatres Library; in January 2020, the Seattle Theatre Group Historic Theatres Library was renamed to the Seattle Theatre Group Archive and Gallery.[1] The STG Archive and Gallery is the official repository of the Paramount, Moore, and Neptune Theatres in Seattle, WA.[1]

Community Background and Relationships

Organizational Background

The STG Archive and Gallery exists as a part of the Seattle Theatre Group, a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts organization.[2] The STG organizes music and arts events in Seattle, including plays, concerts, dances, lectures, films, and more. Annually, the STG puts on an average of 700 events per year.[2] As the owners and operators of three historic theaters in Seattle, the Paramount (est. 1928), Moore (est. 1907), and Neptune (est. 1921), the STG is responsible for the stewardship of these cultural and historic centers. Each theater has undergone significant renovations to preserve the history and feel of each building under the STG's stewardship.[3][4][5]

The Seattle Theatre Group was originally known as the Seattle Landmark Association and was rebranded in 1999. It was created by Ida Cole, a former Microsoft executive.[6]

Archives History

The STG Archive and Gallery has its origins as the result of the effort of two volunteers: Lynn and Marian Thrasher. The Thrasher’s began volunteering with the Seattle Theatre Group in 2002 after they retired. In 2003, they were asked by the STG to create a tour program for students. The tour program began in 2004 and has continued to expand since then.

Lynn Thrasher was appointed as the Paramount Theatre’s official historian by a volunteer council in 2010 after years of research. During the process of writing a book on the history of the Paramount, Lynn began consulting records that had been stored in Suite 707 of the Paramount Building. David Allen, the chief operating officer of the Seattle Theatre Group, prevented the records from being disposed of in the past, preventing their untimely disposal.

The records stored in Suite 707 were found in every room, including the kitchen, bathroom, and closets. This lack of original order or custodial history has been a challenge to the archive. As Jennifer Meehan points out, archival thinking on original order does not address how to handle records that do not have any semblance of original order at all.[7] It was clear that there was no organized system to process and accession records, as they had remained largely forgotten and ignored in the suite. The archive is still in the process of gathering more records on the Moore and Neptune theatres, as many records and artifacts have disappeared over the years. Ongoing efforts are in place to locate, obtain, and preserve these records.[1]

Gathering the records into a library together was Marian Thrasher’s idea, in order to preserve the legacy of the Paramount Theatre: “If we’re going to have any legacy, this is how we do it.” The library was proposed in 2011 and began developing soon thereafter.[6]

The Archive and Gallery has a threefold objective:

  • "To ensure that the historical material that exists of the three theatres is properly preserved and documented for future generations."
  • "To provide an educational environment for youth that would offer an opportunity to learn and experience the remarkable history of the three theatres."
  • "To offer the community a setting in which to become better acquainted with the history and thereby develop a deeper understanding of three of the few remaining historic theatres in Seattle."[1]


The STG Archive and Gallery has a strong volunteer community. This is common in regards to community archives, according to the archival literature, that they are not-for-profit and consist of a voluntary group of people working together for the benefit of their community.[8]

The Archive and Gallery has invested $11,000 into the creation and maintenance of the repository since 2016. The Thrasher’s donated $2,000 at the creation of the archive in order to get it off the ground. Initial fundraising was aided through a grant from King County’s 4Culture program in 2012 and a Christmas party fundraiser that gathered $1,500. [6]

To date, there have been over 13,000 volunteer hours put in from a group of dedicated volunteers who have not been compensated for their time and labor.[9] Two volunteers were instrumental in forming the archive: Ryan McKenna, an archivist at the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) and Bonnie Briant, who brought a background in library science to the project. Additionally, the STG Archive & Gallery benefited from several donations of archival materials from MOHAI.[6]

The Archive and Gallery are constantly looking for new volunteers to help with preservation, cataloging, cleaning, and various construction work; those interested can apply to volunteer via their online form.


Types of Materials

The STG Archive and Gallery maintains records on the operation and history of the three historic theaters operated by the Seattle Theatre Group. According to the archives’ website, materials of interest include:

  • "Historic facts about The Paramount, Moore, and Neptune Theaters"
  • "Extensive collection of many autographed show posters"
  • "Extensive photo gallery of the three theatres"
  • "Programs of touring Broadway shows"
  • "Historical data on silent movies"
  • "Historical data on the Paramount's Wurlitzer organ & Knabe piano"
  • "Architectural drawings"
  • "Performance information for all genres of entertainment"
  • "A DVD/CD collection of recorded performances"
  • "A collection of early playbills from the Moore Theatre"
  • "Books related to theater history"
  • "Miscellaneous memorabilia and artifacts"
  • "Memorabilia of the Paramount Theatre"[1]

The archive is always looking for new materials. There are ongoing efforts to increase the collections on the Moore and Neptune Theatres, with the Neptune having the fewest available records. The Paramount Theatre is the best represented out of the three in the archive, as it is the only theater that is owned by the Seattle Theatre Group and was the first to be managed by the STG.[1]


The archive is organized according to the Dewey Decimal System and organized in a searchable digital database.[6] Users are able to search for records by entertainer, subject, theater, content, and events.[10] If users are unable to find the desired records, they can contact the archives for further assistance.

When the STG Archive and Gallery was first being organized, it was designed to survive in case either the Paramount Theatre or the Seattle Theatre Group ceased to exist. The plan was to make the archive easily incorporated and transferable to the Seattle Public Library in such a case.[6]



The Archive and Gallery provides access to it's digitized resources online through the STG website. There are four ways you can search the repository's online content: simple search, an advanced search, a combination search, or by emailing your inquiries directly to if your search did not yield the results you were looking for.[11] A simple search is a basic keyword search that requires at least 3 characters in the search term. An advanced search has various subject drop-down menus by which you can narrow you search by any or all of these selections: theater, call number subject, subject-2, event type, entertainer type, and content type. A combination search uses the advanced search as described and then you can search those results obtained through the advanced search using a simple search.

All search results will have a title, call number subject, and content type associated with the item. Additionally, a specific theatre or event date may also be present if that information is known with certainty.

Within the item itself, the following fields may have metadata populated about that particular item, including: a photograph, title, description, theater, call number subject, call letters, subject-2, subject-3, event type, event date, group name, entertainer type, state, city, location, content type, and comments. Additionally, if you need more information about that particular item that is not already listed, you can simply fill out and submit the inquiry form at the bottom of any item with the information you are requesting.

In Person

The STG Archive and Gallery is located in downtown Seattle in the Paramount Theatre Office Tower at 911 Pine Street. Currently, the Archive and Gallery are closed to the public due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; however, outside of COVID-19, the Archive and Gallery is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 AM - 3 PM.[1] Admission is open to the public and free.

In-person, you can view the wide array of records and ephemera that may not all be available online. Additionally, public and student tours of the Paramount Theatre are available from volunteers, and private tours of the Archive and Gallery can also be arranged.[1]

Community Programming and Outreach

Education Programs

The STG Archive and Gallery, as has been noted in archival literature, understands that intergenerational engagement with this subject matter is crucial to ensuring the long-term success and survival of the repository.[12] STG's Education Programs are aimed at just that, with a goal to, "empower, enrich, and celebrate participants’ quality of life using the arts."[13] The six main Education Programs are: AileyCamp, Art Sessions, Broadway Programs, DANCE This - Camp, DANCE This - Spring Workshop, and Student Matinees.[14]

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all Education Programs will be virtual for the foreseeable future of the 2020/2021 season.[15]

Although the Education Programs are not directly coordinated by the STG Archive and Gallery, these programs foster a love of the theatre in students and young people who in turn will pay that forward and keep the Archive and Gallery relevant for the future. Additionally, these programs in turn create records, photographs, and other items of ephemera that the Archive and Gallery collect, preserve, and provide access to.

Community Engagement

The STG has four main visions for its Community Engagement:

  • "Create opportunities for people of different cultural backgrounds and artistic mediums to collaborate on projects and performances;
  • "Elevate the voices of Black, Indigenous, and people of color and historically underrepresented communities;
  • "Provide Professional Development opportunities to artists;
  • "Deepen the experience and perspectives on arts performances."[13]

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all Community Engagement events and programs will be virtual for the foreseeable future of the 2020/2021 season.[15]

The ten main Community Engagement programs are: Community Advisory Groups, Dance for Parkinson's, DANCE This - Performance, Global Party, More Music @ The Moore, Season Engagements, Sensory-Friendly + Inclusive Performances, Ticket Assistance Program (TAP), Up Next, and Young Ambassadors.[16]

Similar to the Education Programs, the Community Engagement programs are not directly coordinated by the STG Archive and Gallery; these programs foster a love of the theatre in people of all ages who in turn will pay that forward and keep the Archive and Gallery relevant for the future. Additionally, these programs in turn create records, photographs, and other items of ephemera that the Archive and Gallery collect, preserve, and provide access to.

Relationships to other Institutions

While many community archives struggle with the funding, space, and personnel demands that come with creating and maintaining an archive and may consider partnering with a larger institution[12], the STG Archive and Gallery has remained independent. The University of Washington (UW) Special Collections has a "Seattle Theatre Archives" in which they collect, preserve, and provide access to records, personal papers, oral histories, visual materials, and scrapbooks of various theatre companies, drama schools, and performers that have performed at various theatres in the Seattle, WA area since 1907.[17] However, none of the three theatres that the STG Archive and Gallery represents are included in the UW Special Collections. There may, however, be overlap in records between the performers and theatre groups that have passed through the three theatres the STG Archive and Gallery represents and what is represented by UW's "Seattle Theatre Archives"; however, the STG Archive and Gallery is it's own repository and institution that as a whole does not have a relationship with UW's "Seattle Theatre Archives".

When the Archive and Gallery were initially organized, it benefited from donated supplies from the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) in Seattle. MOHAI was in the process of moving locations at the start of the STG Archives & Gallery and was able to donate unused supplies that would not be transported to the museum's new location.[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 "Seattle Theatre Group Archive and Gallery".
  2. 2.0 2.1 "About STG-What We Do". Seattle Theatre Group.
  3. "The Paramount Theatre-Venue History".
  4. "The Moore Theatre-Venue History".
  5. "The Neptune Theatre-Venue History".
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 Caldbrick, John (5/31/2012). "Seattle Theatre Group's Historic Theatres Library is dedicated on March 1, 2012". Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. Meehan, Jennifer (Fall 2010). "Rethinking Original Order and Personal Records". Archivaria. 70: 27–44.
  8. Flinn, Andrew (2015). “Community Archives.” In Encyclopedia of Archival Science. Eds. Luciana Duranti and Patricia Franks (Rowman & Littlefield): 147.
  9. "Volunteer".
  10. "Reference".
  11. "Reference".
  12. 12.0 12.1 Zavala, Jimmy (2017). "'A process where we're all at the table': community archives challenging dominant modes of archival practice". Archives and Manuscripts. 45:3: 211, 210. line feed character in |title= at position 52 (help)
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Education & Community Engagement".
  14. "List of Education Programs".
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Important Note / COVID-19 Update".
  16. "List of Community Engagement Programs".
  17. "Seattle Theatre Archives".