Named for Ben Graf Henneke, former president of The University of Tulsa and long-time drama faculty member, these collections are composed of various materials pertaining to the performing arts.
The Stanley Swift collection is the cornerstone of the Henneke Archives. It was acquired in 1979 and establishes McFarlin Library as one of the centers for certain types of theater research in the United States. Begun by the nineteenth century impresario David Belasco, the collection has changed hands a number of times, always with substantial additions being made to it. Today the collection contains over 4,000 playbills, programs, and clippings relating to activities in English and American theaters in London, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Detroit, and Chicago. In addition, it includes over 200 files on individual actors and actresses from the nineteenth century, many of whom performed before Abraham Lincoln. Within these files are photographs, lithographs, autograph notes and letters, programs, and clippings of such figures as Herbert Beerbohm Tree, Jenny Lind, Mary Siddons, George Drew Barrymore, Joseph Jefferson, Henry Irving, Ellen Terry, and Steele MacKaye. Still another concentration of material focuses on the famous Booth family of American actors, among whom was the notorious John Wilkes Booth. This aspect of the collection incorporates over 40 unpublished letters from Edwin Booth as well as playbills for appearances of Junius Brutus, Edwin, and John Wilkes Booth.
The hundreds of photographs in the Swift collection include many by Napoleon Sarony, whose work in New York from 1866 to his death in 1896 provided the most complete visual record of American theater personalities at the end of the nineteenth century. Finally, the collection contains 200 play books, many of which are nineteenth century editions published by Samuel French, David Longworth, Duncombe’s, Harold Roorback, and others.
Another part of the Henneke Archives is a collection of over 700 items documenting circus life. The collection was assembled by Dexter Fellows, a press agent for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and includes photographs and other circus memorabilia. This collection, in turn, complements another holding of programs, magazines, clippings, and route books from the 1890s to the 1970s recently purchased for the McFarlin Library by the Experimental Theatre Workshop, a group of former theater students from The University of Tulsa.
The Henneke Archives also contain motion picture scripts for figures better known for their literary production, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, and John Fowles, thereby broadening the range of research possibilities for students of both drama and literature and allowing for the cross-fertilization of ideas necessary for a fuller understanding of contemporary cultural phenomena such as film. The growing collection of scripts is enhanced by movie posters, lobby stills, and press kits.