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Catharine Sargent Huntington papers relating to the theater

Call Number: MS Am.2200

Scope and Contents

This collection documents Catharine Sargent Huntington’s (1887-1987) work with the Boston Stage Society, The New England Repertory Theater, Dr. Punch’s Workshop, as well as her other theater related activities and interests from 1919-1974. In addition, it contains plays that Huntington collected over the years. Types of records include announcements, clippings, correspondence, costume sketches, handwritten notes, and musical scores. Playbills, photographs, prompt books, reports, theater programs, a ticket, and typescripts are also included.


  • 1919 - 1974


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Items in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. In most cases, the Boston Public Library does not hold the copyright to the items in our collections. It is the sole responsibility of the user to make their own determination about what types of usage might be permissible under U.S. and international copyright law.

Catharine Sargent Huntington (1887-1987)

Catharine Sargent Huntington (1887-1987) was an American actress, director, producer, and activist. A leader in New England’s Little Theater Movement, she founded and managed several theater companies in Boston and Provincetown, Massachusetts. Born in Ashfield, Massachusetts on December 29, 1887, she was the only daughter of Lilly St. Agnam Barrett Huntington and Reverend George Putnam Huntington. Huntington graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College in 1911 and taught English and theater at the Westover School in Middlebury Connecticut. During World War I, she left her job to serve as the Radcliffe College representative to the American troops in France. After the war, she continued her acting career on the French Riviera.

Huntington co-founded the Boston Stage Society in 1922, where she made her directorial debut directing a play by Anton Chekhov. Between 1927-1930, she served as the dramatic coach at the Allied Arts Center where a group of Black artists produced original plays. From 1931-1935, Huntington was a member of the management and producing company of Mr. Punch’s Workshop, a travelling puppet theater where she produced plays including Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Alice in Wonderland, and Little Flowers of St. Francis. Together with Edwin Petett and Virginia Thomas, Huntington established the New England Repertory Theatre on Joy Street in 1938. The company performed in Boston in the winter and in Provincetown in the summer, at the Provincetown Playhouse on the Wharf. Huntington owned the Playhouse from 1940 to 1973. During these years she produced 139 plays, including 41 by Eugene O’Neill. Huntington was a strong supporter of O'Neill and one of the few theater owners at that time to produce his work. Throughout her career Huntington was also active in several local theaters, including the Brattle and the Peabody Playhouse, and was one of the founders of the Poets’ Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1965, Huntington received the Rodgers and Hammerstein Award for her contribution to American theater in the Boston area.

In addition to her work in the theater, Catharine Sargent Huntington was also a social justice activist. In August 1927, she was arrested outside the State House in Boston for protesting the execution of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti and served as a member of the Sacco-Vanzetti Memorial Committee. Catharine Sargent Huntington died in Boston at Sherrill House, on February 27, 1987.


0.92 Cubic Feet (4 document cases)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged into three series: Series I. Production scripts and materials, Series II. Writings, correspondence, and additional materials; and Series III. Collected plays

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Catharine Sargent Huntington, 1975.

Related Materials

Materials related to Catharine Sargent Huntington’s support of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti and her work with the Sacco-Vanzetti Memorial Committee can be found in the Aldino Felicani Sacco-Vanzetti Defense Committee Records (MS 2030) and the S.H.M. Collection of Sacco-Vanzetti Material (MS 7408).

Processing Information

Materials in this collection were preliminarily cataloged as part of the 2020 Rare Books and Manuscripts Department manuscript retrospective conversion project. Descriptive data for this project was transcribed from catalog cards or earlier typed inventories of manuscripts. Item descriptions were then converted into finding aids in order to ease access to complete collections and to materials with shared provenance.

This collection is held within the Boston Public Library Rare Books and Manuscripts Department's American Manuscripts collection.

Information in this finding aid is adapted from an earlier manuscript inventory, in which materials are described in several different ways. These descriptions have been retained to help researchers understand the contents of the collection. The format is described in a note for each file. The notes sometimes contain additional descriptions or paraphrases of contents. The physical items listed are further described in a physical description note which includes the number of unique intellectual items, and number of pages. Page counts include the front and back of each sheet, excluding blank pages. Single letters or manuscripts composed of multiple sheets are described as “1 item”, so a letter comprised of 3 sheets of paper with one blank side, would be described as “1 item (5 pages)”. In some cases, multiple items in the same folder may be listed separately.

Statement on harmful description

Archival description reflects the biases of time periods and cultures in which it was created and may include direct quotations or descriptions that use inappropriate or harmful language. Creator provided descriptions may be maintained in order to preserve the context in which the collection was created and/or used. Legacy description and potentially offensive content may be made available online until a collection can be reprocessed because the access that they provide to primary source materials is uniquely valuable to the research community at large. Our efforts to repair outdated descriptions and to describe our collections more equitably are iterative and ongoing.

Guide to the Catharine Sargent Huntington papers relating to the theater
Boston Public Library Staff and Kimberly Reynolds
2023 July
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

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