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821 University Avenue 3160 Vilas Communication Hall Madison, WI


The Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research
Wisconsin Historical Society
816 State Street
Madison, WI  53706
Tel.  608-264-6466


The Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research (WCFTR) boasts one of the world’s largest and most important archives on American theater, film and mass media.


The WCFTR makes available more than 300 collections from playwrights, television and motion picture writers, producers, actors, designers, directors, and production companies including the United Artists Corporation, Warner Brothers, MTM Enterprises, Dalton Trumbo, Kirk Douglas, Rod Serling, Ed Sullivan, Hal Holbrook, David Susskind, and many others.  The collection also includes 15,000 motion pictures, television shows, and videotapes, two million still photographs and promotional graphics and over 2,000 sound recordings.  Each year, hundreds of scholars from around the world, as well as students, creative artists and members of the interested public, visit the WCFTR archives in Madison and produce important accounts of America’s media history.  The domains of film, television and radio writing are well represented in the WCFTR archive.  Numerous collections contain materials of potential research value to conference participants.  Here is a sampling of some particularly appropriate collections:


  • Dalton Trumbo, 1905-1962: Papers of an author and writer of motion picture scripts who, as one of the Hollywood Ten, was imprisoned following 1947 hearings before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. The collection offers remarkably complete documentation of his work and the blacklisting to which he was subjected until 1960. Scripts and drafts of his screenplays include many written for the black market. Among the best represented are “The Brave One” (Universal, 1955), for which he won an Academy Award under the pseudonym Robert Rich, “Exodus” (UA, 1960), “Lonely Are the Brave” (1962), “Mister Adam,” “The Young Philadelphians” (1959), and “Spartacus” (Universal, 1960).
  • Paddy Chayefsky, 1937-1972: Papers of Paddy Chayefsky (1923-1981), a writer for stage, screen, radio, and television, whose work during the “Golden Age of TV Drama” led to a career as an Oscar-winning writer of motion pictures. Consisting of scripts, revisions, notes, clippings, and reviews, the collection includes some titles produced in more than one media. Most notable are Bachelor Party and Marty –both originally presented on NBC’s Philco-Goodyear Playhouse and both subsequently made into motion pictures (UA, 1957 and 1955 respectively), which Chayefsky also produced.
  • MTM Enterprises, 1970-1990: Scripts of television series, pilots, and specials produced by MTM Enterprises, one of the leading independent production companies for television during the 1970s and 1980s.  Series represented include The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, Hill Street Blues, WKRP in Cincinnati, and The White Shadow.
  • Rod Serling, 1943-1971: Papers of a television and motion picture writer best known for his tales of the supernatural. Included are correspondence, scripts, speeches and articles, reports, press releases, and clippings. Half of the collection consists of files on his produced and unproduced writings for television, motion pictures, radio, and the theater.  The Twilight Zone, Playhouse 90, and the film Seven Days in May are among Serling’s work that are well represented in the collection.
  • Reginald Rose, 1952-1979: Papers of a noted writer for television, motion pictures, and the stage. Television files containing variant drafts of scripts, correspondence, clippings, and production information comprise the bulk of the collection. Of these, there are extensive files on “Alcoa-Goodyear Theatre” (NBC), “Danger” (CBS), “Playhouse 90” (CBS), and “Studio One” (CBS). For “The Defenders” (CBS), which Rose created and wrote, there are scripts and a film for every episode of the program’s five-year history.
  • George Seaton, 1934-1977: Among the documentation present are scripts and drafts, research notes, correspondence, financial records, cast and crew lists, production reports, shooting schedules, and reviews. Films represented include “Airport” (Universal, 1970), “The Bridges at Toko-Ri” (Para., 1954), “The Counterfeit Traitor” (Para., 1962), Academy Award winning “The Country Girl” (Para., 1954), “A Day at the Races” (MGM, 1937), “Little Boy Lost” (Para., 1953), “Miracle on 34th Street” (20th Century Fox, winner of an Academy Award in 1947), “A Night at the Opera” (MGM, 1935), “The Pleasure of His Company” (Para., 1961), “Showdown” (Universal, 1972), “Song of Bernadette” (20th Century-Fox, 1943), “36 Hours” (MGM, 1965), “What’s So Bad About Feeling Good?” (Universal, 1968), and others.
  • United Artists Series 1.2 Warner Brothers scripts: Scripts and related items for motion pictures by Warner Brothers studio, arranged alphabetically by film title and thereunder in four categories: Source, Research, Script, and Postproduction corresponding to steps in the production process.
  • Walter Mirisch, 19461978: Papers of an Academy Award-winning motion picture producer and founder of the Mirisch Corporation, consisting of records of various films and television series produced by Mirisch or by his company. Present in varying quantities, the files include shooting scripts, stills, advertising and publicity kits, films, sound recordings, and set and costume designs. Among the Mirisch Corporation productions (all released by United Artists) are “The Apartment” (1960), “The Children’s Hour” (1962), “The Great Escape” (1963), “Hawaii” (1966), “The Horse Soldiers” (1959), “How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” (1967), “In the Heat of the Night” (1967), “Irma La Douce” (1963), “The Magnificent Seven” (1960), “One, Two, Three” (1961), “The Pink Panther” (1964), “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming” (1966), “Some Like It Hot” (1959), “Toys in the Attic” (1963), “Two for the See-saw” (1962), and “West Side Story” (1961). Records of television work include shooting scripts, films, and budgets for “Hey, Landlord” (NBC), “Peter Loves Mary” (NBC), “Rat Patrol” (ABC), and “Wichita Town” (NBC-film).


To see a complete list of WCFTR collections relating to screenwriting, please click here.  The staff of the WCFTR will be happy to help facilitate research and answer any questions you may have.  Please visit our website for more information or feel free to contact Mary Huelsbeck, the WCFTR’s assistant director, at