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The Collection
• Collection Development Policy
Collection Scope: Shakespeare

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Collecting Scope by Area: Shakespeare

The Folger seeks primary source materials relating to Shakespeare productions, interpretations, editions, and criticism to the present, including born-digital material.


  • Pre-1709
    • Folios and quartos should be seriously considered
      (see Early English for prioritization)
  • Major from 1709 to the present
    • We collect all current scholarly editions in at least one format
    • We collect duplicates of earlier editions if they have some added interest such as special provenance, added artwork, etc.
    • Facsimile editions, including subscription and access to selected electronic editions
    • Subscribe and provide access to selected electronic editions
  • School editions
    • New Oxford and Cambridge School editions: usually purchase one copy of each play; do not purchase copies of every update unless substantial changes made
    • Other current school editions: we purchase at least a Hamlet volume as an example
    • Historic school editions: we would purchase these only if they have some added added interest such as provenance
    • Subscribe and provide access to selected electronic editions


Translations: Eighteenth century to present

  • Current
    • Major translations into German, French, Italian, Spanish; other languages as they become available (we have translations in over 45 languages including Klingon and Esperanto)
  • Historic
    • We collect earlier editions in translation if they have added interest such as provenance, illustrations, etc. or if they are by major translators
  • See also our Continental collecting policy


(includes "spinoffs" such as novels, plays, etc.)

  • Current
    • Purchase these as they become known
  • Historic:
    • Purchase eighteenth- and nineteenth-century adaptations, spinoffs


Critical works

  • In-depth, eighteenth through the present, including authorship theories
  • All known current Shakespeare periodicals in hard copy or via online access
  • Cliffs Notes and other study notes for at least Hamlet


Popular and Ephemeral Materials

  • Continue to add representative items to our collection of calendars, books of quotations, children's books, comic books, a few toys, etc. dating from the 19th century to the present
  • Born-digital ephemera
    (e.g. websites)


Production information

  • Add selectively to our collection (seventeenth century to the present) of British and American promptbooks, playbills, photographs, posters, programs, etc.
  • Add selectively to our collection of papers of Shakespearean actors, directors, and theaters
  • Add selectively to our collection of Shakespeare Festival ephemera
  • Maintain and continue to add to our archives of promptbooks and ephemeral material related to productions in the Folger Theatre


Moving images and Recordings

  • Add comprehensively to our collection of Shakespeare moving image, including adaptations, in English
  • Add selectively to our collection of Shakespeare moving images, including adaptations, in languages other than English
  • Collect sound recordings (spoken-word), primarily in English
  • Born-digital material (e.g. YouTube), primarily in English
  • Selective recordings of theatrical performances, including the Folger (pending resolution of union restrictions on deposit copies of recordings)



  • Add selectively to our collection of musical scores (currently mostly eighteenth- and nineteenth-century) and recordings based on Shakespeare
  • out of scope: recorded music of Shakespeare’s era
    (exception: Folger Consort material, which forms part of the Folger Archives rather than the research collection as such)



  • Add selectively to our Shakespeare-related art holdings:
    • Prints, photographs, original works on paper
    • Sculpture and decorative art
    • Paintings
    • private press and artists' books


  • Add selectively to Shakespeare-themed objects
  • Out of scope: objects from Shakespeare's era



  • Continue to add to the areas of strength in our Shakespeare-related manuscript holdings, particularly:
    • Collections of notes, scrapbooks, letters from early Shakespeare editors and societies
    • Dramatic and theater-related manuscripts, including historic records of Drury Lane, Covent Garden, and other British theatres
      • Garrick scrapbooks and papers
      • Halliwell-Phillipps scrapbooks
      • Papers of Augustin Daly
      • Papers of William Winter
    • Selectively collect modern theatrical, literary, and authorship manuscripts, including unpublished screenplays and scripts and archival collections of living and deceased Shakespearean actors and directors
  • We do not collect scholars' papers

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