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Wesleyan Theatre history is going from analog to digital with help from a grant

10.24.2016 | By:

Staff at West Library will be working hard this year on its first big leap in digitizing its archival holdings. West Library has received a TexTreasures grant from the Texas State Library and Archive Commission to digitize aspects of the Mason Johnson Theatre Collection.

The collection includes photographs, playbills, posters, audio, and other memorabilia relating to Mason Johnson’s time at Texas Wesleyan College between 1956 and 1985. An emphasis is placed on the annual spring musicals, including “Brigadoon” (1956), “Damn Yankees” (1961), and “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1968).”

Mason Johnson served in the Navy during the second world war, serving on the U.S.S. Franklin. Discharged in the spring of 1946, Mason Johnson returned to Texas, where he worked at the State Fair Musicals in Dallas. He began work with Texas Wesleyan College in 1956, when Dr. Law Sone, president of TWC, asked Johnson to direct the 1956 production of “Brigadoon.”

As a celebration of Johnson’s success at TWC, the performance “Follow the Dream” filled seats in 1985, the year of his retirement. This performance was a compilation of musical numbers from the various shows Johnson directed and even saw some Theatre alumni return to the Wesleyan stage. At his retirement, he held the title of Professor of Theatre Arts and Speech.

Digitization of the materials is planned to be completed on Aug. 31, 2017.

The collection will be available for faculty, staff, students and alumni to view on the Digital Archives page.

Other archival holdings that have been digitized include college yearbooks from Wesleyan’s beginnings at Polytechnic College, as well as issues of The Rambler and its predecessor The Handout. These can be viewed via The Portal to Texas History.

Want to learn more? Contact Caitlin Rookey.

This project is made possible through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission under the provisions of the Library Services and technology Act. (2017)

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