Performing Arts in America 1875–1923, a website of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, captures a glimpse of the beginning of the modern age, when a combination of technological advances and societal freedoms led the way to a new world where—among other things—entertainment for the masses became a thriving industry. The upbeat mood of America was reflected in its theater, its popular songs, the craze for ballroom dancing, and above all in the newest of popular fads, the motion pictures. At the same time, America was forging its own classical culture worthy of competing with its European forebears.
This searchable database presents some 16,000 archival visual and audio materials from the library’s holdings, including sheet music, newspaper clippings, photographs of theater and dance performances, and publicity posters.
Above, Ruth St. Denis in Incense, 1908.