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Research Guide: Theatre 2513

Design for the Theatre

Finding Books

Using Catalogs: Use the WSU online catalog to find location and availability of books and other media in Stewart Library. Most books are located on the Middle Level of the library in the General Collection. 
  • Books on costumes and costume history are located under GT500
  • Books on theatrical lighting and set design are found under PN 2091
  • Books on theatre are found under PN 1600-3307
  • To find books with pictures on a subject :
    • Use Subject keyword search with term pictorial works:   African American pictorial works (finds books consisting mostly of pictures of African Americans)
    • Use General keyword search with term ill*:  African Americans ill* (finds books about African Americans with some illustrations
  • NOTE:  When searching for historical information about African Americans, you need use the terms that were in use during the historical period:  African Americans, Blacks, Afro Americans, Negroes, Colored.

Other areas that may have books with pictures of interest to designers include

  • N -   art history
  • D -   history - general & world
  • E -   history - U.S.
  • F -   history - local U.S. & the Americas
  • G -   anthropology, ethnography
  • T -   photography
  • TT-  for fashion and textiles
  • H -  advertising in business

Search for  videos & DVDs just like books.  They are located in the Media Collection, lower level.  Most can be checked out.


Interlibrary Loan: If we do not own a particular book or article you need, we will borrow it for you from another library through Interlibrary Loan.


Finding Images


Reference Books & Databases

Reference resources include encyclopedias, dictionaries and other materials you use to "refer" to for background information on a topic.

  • American Decades, American Eras, World Eras, and the 20th Century Day by Day - These are chronologies and timelines with pictures.  REF Index Table 2B
  • ARTstor  - ARTstor is a digital library of more than one million images in the arts, architecture, humanities, and social sciences. Collections comprise contributions from outstanding museums, photographers, libraries, scholars, photo archives, and artists and artists' estates. For WSU student and faculty use only.
  • Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion  WSU library database
  • Dictionary of Art - Stewart Library, middle level, REF N31.D5 1996 - Index table 3A (Online at Grove Dictionary of Art - WSU library database.)
  • American Historical Images on File -   REF - call numbers vary, check catalog.
    • The Black Experience  REF E185.B573 1990
  • The Complete History of Costume & Fashion : from ancient Egypt to the present day -  REF GT375.C67
  • Twentieth Century Fashion Series:  5 volumes including  The 40s & 50s : utility to new look  REF GT 596
  • The Wearing of Costume : the changing techniques of wearing clothes and how to move in them, from Roman Britain to the Second World War  REF GT730.G7 1995
  • Encyclopedia of Furniture - REF NK2205.Y38 1999
  • Theatre Backstage from A to Z - REF PN2091.M3 L68
  • What Where and When of Theater Props - REF PN2091.S8.J35 1992
  • Visual Food Encyclopedia - REF TX349.E48 1996
  • Encyclopedia of Food & Culture  WSU library database

Other Sources

  • Books published by Dorling Kindersley (aka DK Pub*)  Use the Publication Information search
  • Books by David Macauley including:  Castle, Underground, Cathedral, Pyramid & How Things Work
  • Life Magazine  -  PER AP2.L722  (Check out other popular magazines, especially the ads)
  • Popular Magazines such as Time, New Yorker, etc. for advertising & articles.
  • Newspaper Advertising - We have complete collections of The New York Times, Ogden Standard Examiner, Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News and partial runs of other newspapers. 
  • Ad*Access - advertisements from 1911-1955 from Duke University
  • The Robert Opie Collection - British advertising and nostalgia
  • Sears, Roebucks catalogs - we have reprints, books such as:  Everyday Fashions of the Forties as Pictured in Sears Catalogs, reprints of several early catalogs and most of the Christmas catalogs from 1933 - 1986 on microfilm.
  • American Cultural Guides from the Kingwood College Library - 19th Century & 20th Century - there's a guide for each decade - excellent place to find all kinds of information.
  • HyperHistory Online (world history timeline)
  • Stewart Library Archives & Special Collections - great source for photographs, especially local.
  • Check out reviews to see how others did it:  check out the Theatre Research Guide and Academic Search Premier database.  For 1890 - 1982, use the Reader' Guide Retrospective article database.


Also see the web sources listed below.


Finding Articles



To find articles on your topic you need to use article databases, also known as periodical indexes. Each database usually covers a group of subject related journals. Search by subject or keyword in these indexes. For home or off campus access please use your WSU Login.

  • Academic Search Premier -  many fulltext articles in magazines & journals from all subject areas.  Be sure to try their image search feature.
  • IIPA -- International Index to Performing Arts - Citations, abstracts and some full-text articles on all aspects of the performing arts including plays and playwrights.
  • Reader's Guide Retrospective - index to popular magazines from 1890 - 1982.
  • Art Full Text - Abstracts from 1994, selected full-text from 1997
    covering: Art History, Crafts, Decorative Arts, Fashion Design, Folk Art, textiles, etc.
  • America History and Life - good place to find historical information, finding images may be more difficult.
  • Arts & Humanities Search - Citations from many of the world's leading arts and humanities journals. 1980 - present, updates weekly. 
  • Also check the full list of Arts and Humanities Databases
  • Ethnic Newswatch - Full text Articles from minority and ethnic newspapers, magazines, and journals in English and Spanish. 1960-present
  • Newspapers  -  Many newspapers and broadcast news services are available on online, but it may be easier to find images in the print/microfilm versions.


Current magazines and journals can be browsed in the Current Periodicals Area, on the Middle level. 

Bound volumes of older issues are found upstairs in the periodicals stacks. Browsing in the "AP2" general section is particularly useful for viewing back issues of illustrated magazines such as Scribners, Atlantic Monthly and Harper's which go back to the 1920s.  JSTOR has the older volumes of a number of journals available online.


Web Resources

Here are some WWW sites to get you started on theatrical design including, costumes, lighting and scenery.  Most of these will take you to other links, so explore!


See many more links on Research Guide: Costume History and Design





Links For The Piano Lesson


Research Tips


Updated March 2, 2010 . Original version by Carol Hansen.  Please send comments to Carol Hansen
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