Popular Culture Collections

The rhythmic beat of dancing feet “punishing the parquet!” The hills alive with the sound of music! The dulcet tones from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre thrust stage! The flicker of light reflecting from the silver screen in a darkened movie palace! Comic book super heroes joining forces to make the world safe for democracy! The hoopla and energy of Twentieth Century political convention halls! The addictive glow of television’s electronic hearth! Songs! Dances! Snappy patter! All this, combined with the passing parade of household names, long forgotten personalities, indelible historic events, folklore and bizarre phenomena gathered to represent the colorful diversions of the masses known as POPULAR CULTURE!

The expanded scope of the scholarly and intellectual study of popular culture has had an increased impact on the holdings within the Popular Culture Collections in the Department of Special and Area Studies at the University of Florida. The Belknap Collection for the Performing Arts was founded in the1950s by Sara Yancey Belknap, a UF librarian and respected dance historian. Her personal collection of scrapbooks, photos, programs and miscellaneous ephemera provided the foundation for an area of collecting that has grown to encompass impressive primary source research material for theatre, film, music, television, sports, politics, comic books, cartoons and day to day current events.

Highlights of the Popular Culture Collections include the Bob Hope Collection, a massive ephemeral and artifact offering collected by Bob Hope and representing his long career from vaudeville and Broadway to radio, film and movies, the John David Ridge Collection featuring costume designs for stage and film, the Danny Lewis Dance Collection covering his life in dance and his close association with Jose Limon, the Florida Music Collection (sheet music and recordings pertaining to the state of Florida), the Suzy Covey comic book holdings supporting the Comic Studies program in the UF Department of English, the Jim Liversidge Collection featuring promotional ephemera (programs, posters, handbills, etc.) highlighting the many movie gimmicks and processes (Cinerama, CinemaScope, 3-D, Smell-O Vision, etc.) of the 1950s, and the original founding Belknap Dance Collection (including the colorful Denishawn Collection representing the life of modern dance pioneers, Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn).

From a few shelves of material in the early 1950s, the Popular Culture Collections have now swelled, through acquisition and donations, to include playbills, programs, posters, photographs, costume and stage designs, newsletters, theatrical scrapbooks, sheet music, recordings, prints, scripts, videos and DVDs, clipping files, manuscript collections, newsletters, artifacts and various promotional materials. The collection also contains reference works, rare and large pictorial volumes and vintage performing arts periodicals.