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Researching a Character: Home

How to use databases and other reference materials to make a more comprehensive and accurate character.

Source Types and Evaluating Information

Types of Sources:

  • Primary - Provides direct, firsthand evidence about a person, event, or object
    • Examples: personal correspondence (letters or email), photographs, creative works, audio/video recordings, autobiographies, memoirs
  • Secondary - interprets, analyzes, or comments on a person, event or object
    • Examples: textbooks, articles from magazines, journals, or newspapers, works of criticism or interpretation, commentaries, biographies
  • Popular - intended or written for a general audience, or they're made to entertain rather than inform
  • Scholarly - usually created by and written for scholars and academics with the purpose to educate others in the same field of study


Subject headings to Search in the Library Catalog:

Musicals--United States--History and Criticism.

Musical revues, comedies, etc.--Pictorial works.

Popular music--United States--History and Criticism.


America's songs: the stories behind the songs of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley / Philip Furia and Michael Lasser.

  • Reference ML 3477 .F87 A44 2006
    • This tells the history and stories behind American popular songs, and the process of collaboration between composer and lyricist.

Blackwell Guide to the Musical Theatre on Record

  • Reference ML 156.9 .G63 1990
    • The essential basic recordings for any collection of musicals; with introductions to the musicals and reviews of the recordings.

Broadway: 125 Years of Musical Theatre

  • Reference ML 1711.8 .N5 A46 1991
    • Exhibit by the Museum of the City of New York
    • Good for photos

Broadway Musicals/ Martin Gottfried

  • Reference ML 1711.8 .N5 .G68 B76 1979
    • Good for Photographs of productions/ mixture of time periods

Broadway Musicals: 101 Greatest Shows of All Time.

  • Reference ML 102 .M88 .B56 2004
    • covers the 101 most influential, popular, and enduring Broadway shows

Historic Photos of Broadway: New York Theater, 1850-1970

  • Reference PN 2277 .N5 .J33 H57 2008
    • Images from the Billy Rose Theatre Division, NYPL  Performing Arts

Musical Comedy: A Story in Pictures

  • Reference ML 89 .M36 .M87 1970

Oxford English Dictionary (OED) Revised, third edition.

  • Reference PE 1625 O94 2010
    • Traces origins of words in historical context

Rough Guide to Film and Musicals

  • Reference PN 1995.9 .M86 .P37 2007
    • This reviews 50 essential musicals, including several forgotten gems.

The New York Stage: Famous Productions in Photographs

  • Reference PN 2277 .N5 .A67 1976
    • 148 photographs from 1883-1939

TheatreMania Guide to Musical Theatre Recordings

  • Reference ML 156.4 .M8 .T44 2004
    • Reviews of over 1,000 Cast Albums

Tin Pan Alley: the composers, the songs, the performers and their times: the golden age of American popular music 1886-1956.

  • Reference ML 3477.8 .N5 .J37 T56 1988

Who Sang What on Broadway, 1866-1996 (2 volumes)

  • Reference ML 107 .N5 .B46 W46 2006
    • lists alphabetically every performer who sang on Broadway in the role of a named character, earning mention in the program of a musical or revue
    • Each performer's entry includes their date and place of birth, date of death, marital status, names of performing relatives or partners appearing in the book, and brief career highlights.   

Helpful Databases

NY Times Online:

AMDA student subscriptions available.  Can be accessed onsite and offsite

Performing Arts Periodicals Database:

For offsite access:

Username: amdany

Password: 10023


****Obtain a New York Public Library card

Gives you access to hundreds of other newspaper databases, not just NY Times.

New York Public Library Digital Collection:


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