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Joan Dillon papers


Joan Dillon papers
Dillon, Joan
Collection number:
10.25 linear feet
Bulk dates:
Inclusive dates:
Collection Area:
State of Maryland and Historical Collections
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email:

Joan Kent Dillon (b. 1925) is a nationally known historic preservation activist, having served on the Board of Directors of the National Trust for Historic Preservation from 1980 to 1989 and the Smithsonian Institution from 1989 to the present. A long-time resident of Kansas City, Dillon began her involvement with historic theaters in 1974, when she purchased the Folly Theater in the city center. Over the next thirteen years she raised more than $5 million to renovate the former burlesque hall. Her activities with the Folly Theater led to her involvement with the League of Historic American Theaters (LHAT), on whose Board of Directors she served after 1978. Through her growing involvement with theaters, she met David Naylor, a photographer and author of two books on American movie theaters. Together they decided to pursue Dillon's longstanding idea of a book on nineteenth-century American theaters. In the period between 1994 and 1996, they traveled extensively, viewing, evaluating, and photographing theaters throughout the United States. The resulting book, American Theaters: Performance Halls of the Nineteenth Century, appeared in 1997. The papers focus exclusively on the research, preparation and publication of American Theaters: Performance Halls of the Nineteenth Century. The collection documents theaters included in the book, as well as theaters that were considered for inclusion but rejected. There are also a large number of photographs and slides of theaters documented in the files.

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This collection is open for research.

Preferred citation:

Joan Dillon papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

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Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


This collection is PROCESSED.A full finding aid is available.