The Jacob’s Pillow Archives document the history of the Festival and School and the artists who have taken part in these activities, with particular emphasis on Ted Shawn, Ted Shawn’s Men Dancers, and the Denishawn Company.
The collection includes correspondence, photographs, programs, board minutes, books, costumes, posters, films, audiotapes, and scrapbooks. The Archives is one component of the Pillow’s Preservation Program, which also documents the ongoing activities of the Festival, principally on video, and organizes exhibits exploring various aspects of dance history.
Of particular interest is a new online feature called Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive, offering carefully-chosen excerpts from the extensive video collection along with contextual information about dozens of artists who have appeared at the Pillow from the 1930s to the present day.
The center for most of the Pillow’s preservation activities is in Blake’s Barn, an 18th century structure that has been relocated and reconfigured specifically for this purpose. In addition to a central area for exhibits and lectures, this barn houses a reading room with video viewing facilities, providing access to the collection. During the Festival, the research facility is open to the general public daily, from noon to final curtain Wednesdays through Sundays and from noon to 5pm on Mondays-Tuesdays.
Throughout the rest of the year, hours are by appointment and may be arranged by calling 413.243.9919 x150 or emailing Norton Owen. Materials in the Jacob’s Pillow Archives tell stories of various cultural groups from throughout the world.
One particularly strong area of holdings reflects an extensive history of presenting performers of the African Diaspora since 1942, culminating in the Pillow’s recognition as a site on the African American Heritage Trail in 2007, as well as the creation of a brochure honoring dancers of traditions from the African Diaspora who performed at the Pillow. The trail commemorates sites in the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area and is recognized by a bronze plaque at the Welcome Center.
The archival collections housed at Jacob’s Pillow contain materials relating to many of the artists who have appeared under the auspices of the Festival. Some of these items, such as photographs or performance programs, are readily accessible onsite but are not individually catalogued. Other materials, including videos and films, are described in an online database which allows searches by name of choreographer, company, composer or dance title.
Dance Heritage Coalition Partnership
Since 1996, Jacob’s Pillow has been a member of the Dance Heritage Coalition, an alliance of major dance collections formed to address national dance documentation and preservation issues. Other constituents of the DHC include the Library of Congress, Harvard Theatre Collection, and the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.