The Jacob’s Pillow Archives document the history of Jacob’s Pillow and the artists who have contributed to its legacy, with particular emphasis on Ted Shawn, Ted Shawn’s Men Dancers, and the Denishawn Company.
The collections include audiotapes, board minutes, books, correspondence, costumes, films, photographs, posters, programs, scrapbooks, videos, and more. The Archives is one component of the Pillow’s Preservation Program, which also documents the ongoing activities of the Festival and organizes exhibits exploring various aspects of dance history.
Of particular interest is the online feature known as Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive. Documenting hundreds of artists who have appeared at the Pillow from the 1930s to the present day, this resource offers carefully-chosen excerpts from the Archives’ extensive video collection accompanied by contextual information, plus an extensive section of multimedia essays that include talks, photos, and other exclusive content organized into various themes.
The center for most of the Pillow’s preservation activities is Blake’s Barn, an 18th century building that was relocated to the Pillow grounds and reconfigured specifically for this purpose. Blake’s Barn includes a large exhibition gallery, an outdoor area for lectures and talks called Sommerspace, and The Norton Owen Reading Room. In the Reading Room visitors can watch videos, see exhibits from the Archives’ permanent collection, browse the library, and access other materials from the Archives. During the Festival, the research facility is open to the general public daily, from noon to final curtain Wednesday-Sunday and from noon to 5pm on Monday-Tuesday.
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 around 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. See the new Dance of the African Diaspora theme on Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive for more on artists of the African Diaspora at Jacob’s Pillow.
The Jacob’s Pillow Archives catalog is accessible through our online database which allows searches by keywords such as dance title or name of choreographer, company, composer, performer, etc.. Some items in the Pillow Archives, including thousands of programs and photographs, can be viewed online. Other materials, particularly films/videos and archival collections, must be viewed on-site in the Norton Owen Reading Room.
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 nationwide dance documentation and preservation issues. Now integrated into the national service organization Dance/USA, the Coalition includes other leading repositories such as the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and the Harvard Theatre Collection.