On March 5, an exhibition created by three Pratt students in the School of Information and Library Science went on display at the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). The virtual exhibition, titled The Show Must Go On! American Theater in the Great Depression, was created by Kathleen Dowling (M.S.L.I.S. ‘15), Laura Marte Piccini, (M.S.L.I.S. ‘15), and Matthew Schofield (M.S.L.I.S. ‘15) in Assistant Professor Anthony Cocciolo’s “Projects in Digital Archives” course.

The Show Must Go On! was made as part of the DPLA’s Digital Curation Project, a pilot program in which graduate students from four library and information science schools envisioned and curated their own exhibitions over the course of a semester. The students were required to find an exhibition theme that would be well represented in DPLA's collection—which includes more than 5.7 million items from over 1,100 institutions—and that would also have national significance in terms of American history and heritage.

Motivated by an interest in the performing arts, the students chose to explore the enormous impact that the Great Depression had on American theater, including the Federal Theater project that provided work to unemployed artists and left a legacy of innovative productions and ideas that altered the landscape of post-Depression-era American theater.

The “Projects in Digital Archives” course gives students the chance to learn how to create a digital archive and practice implementing it with a partner institution or collection. The DPLA project provided them with real-world experience in using digital resources and navigating issues such as metadata and copyright—important skills for today’s information and library science professionals.

 “Students had the opportunity to practice archival outreach through this digital curation project in collaboration with DPLA. They had a lot of fun putting together their exhibition,” said Cocciolo.

The University of Denver, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Washington were the other library school programs that participated in the project.

The Show Must Go On: American Theater in the Great Depression may be viewed here.

Text: Marion Hammon