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MU 241 - American Musical Theater


The following guide is intended to provide an overview of some of the resources available in the library and online for American Music Theater studies. For further research assistance, please take advantage of the reference services available to you in the Geisel Library. Stop by the Reference Desk in person or online at Ask a Librarian.


Research Basics

The reference librarians have created a group of web pages named Research Help designed to help teach you the basics of library research and to introduce you to Geisel Library. Please take advantage of this resource.


Reference Sources for Background Information

Reference books are shelved by Library of Congress call number in the reference stacks near the reference desk. They may not be checked out, but photocopiers are available on the lower level of the Library. Online reference sources can be found in the library catalog, or listed on E-Reference Resources.


Bibliographical Handbook of American Music
     Ref ML120 .U5 K78

Literature of American Music
     Ref ML120 .U5 H7

Music Reference and Research Materials
     Ref ML113 .D83 1997


The American Musical
     ML102.M88 V83

New Harvard Dictionary of Music
     Ref ML100 .N485 2003

Oxford Dictionary of Music
     Ref ML100 .K35

Dictionary of Musical Quotations
     Ref Ml66 .C86

Biographical Sources

Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians
     Ref ML105 .B16

The American Musical
     ML102.M88 V83

     Ref ML128.M78 S86 2000

New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians
     Ref ML100 .N48


MusicHound Soundtracks: the Essential Album Guide to Film, Television and Stage Music
     Ref ML156.9 .M87 2000

Terms and History

The American Musical Theatre Song Encyclopedia
     Ref ML102.M88 H59 1995

New Grove Dictionary of American Music
     Ref ML101.U6 N48 1986

New Oxford History of Music
     Ref ML160 .N44

The Concise Oxford Companion to the Theatre
     Online resource


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Finding Books/Secondary Sources

Subject Headings Suggestions for searching the Catalog:

The following Library of Congress subject headings are relevant to Musical Theater:

  • Musicals
  • Musical theater
  • Theater
  • Popular music
  • Broadway (New York, N.Y.)
  • Music and literature - History - 20th century
  • Art and Music - History - 20th century

Keyword suggestions for searching the Catalog:

  • Musicals
  • Musical comedy
  • Broadway
  • Popular songs
  • Names of composers, producers, and top performers

Use the * (asterisk) as a truncation symbol to retrieve variant forms of a word root. Use the Boolean OR to expand your search by including synonyms and related terms. When using two different Boolean commands in the same search statement ("and" and "or" in the preceding examples) you must include parentheses to indicate which command is to be performed first.

Some recommended General Collection books found using Subject and Keyword searches in the catalog:

The World of Musical Comedy
     ML1711 .G74 1984

Rodgers & Hammerstein
     ML410.R3615 M7 1992

The Broadway Musical
     ML2054 .S93 2002

Stardust Melodies
     ML3477 .F75 2002

If you are unable to locate materials in the Geisel Library Catalog, search libraries worldwide using WorldCat.


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Find Journal Articles

Contains the largest selection of Music periodicals of any of Geisel Library's online resources. See Title List by Discipline: Music.

MasterFILE Premier
Similar to the Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature, "this multidisciplinary database provides full text for nearly 1,950 general reference publications with full text information dating as far back as 1975. Covering virtually every subject area of general interest, MasterFILE Premier also includes 316 full text reference books, 88,000 biographies, 83,500 primary source documents, and an image collection of 107,000 photos, maps and flags. This database is updated daily via EBSCOhost."

Academic Search Premier
Gain access to full-text as well as indexing and abstracting for a wide range of journal titles covering business, social sciences, humanities, general science, and education.

America: History and Life
Provides abstracts to journal articles, book/media reviews, and dissertations with a focus on United States and Canadian history and culture from prehistoric times to the present. (1964-present)    Journal List (PDF/59KB)

Arts & Humanities Citation Index
Provides indexing to the world's leading arts and humanities journals and selections from social science and science journals. Includes articles, bibliographies, editorials, letters, and reviews. (1980-present)

New York Times
"The New York Times (1851-2001) offers full page and article images with searchable full text back to the first issue. The collection includes digital reproductions providing access to every page from every available issue." Includes the fabulous Theater section!

LexisNexis Academic
Find full-text newspaper articles from local, national and international papers. Gain access to full-text law reviews as well as company news and financial information, medical information, laws and regulations, polls and surveys, and general reference information. Historical information on the New York City theater scene.


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Selected Websites

General Information

Internet Broadway database
Official archival database for Broadway theater information. Features information on current and past productions in the Broadway theaters of New York City, including production statistics, dates, cast, crew and creative staff credits, roles, and related facts.
"The Cyber Encyclopedia of Musical Theatre, TV and Film." Broad-based website with historical and biographical information, reviews, essays, blogs, indexes, and even how to put on a Broadway musical. Created and maintained by John Kenrick. Contents are under copyright protection.

Broadway 101, History of the Great White Way
Historical information on the New York City theater scene PBS series includes information on 4 prominent Broadway figures: Jerome Robbins, George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Richard Rodgers.

American Masters
PBS series website includes information on 4 prominent Broadway figures: Jerome Robbins, George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Richard Rodgers. Be sure to check out the section for teachers for extra in-depth information.

Broadway: The American Musical
PBS series website has sections entitled: Hello Broadway, Stars over Broadway, Broadway Milestones, Memeorable Musicals, and Broadway stories. Includes online interviews and teacher resources (especially web resources and print resources).

Theater People

The websites below are only representative of a plethora of information on the web. Wikipedia features comprehensive articles on many of the artists, but always confirm your information, as you should for any non-academic internet resource.

Cole Porter

Rodgers & Hammerstein
at the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization

Lorenz Hart

Alan Jay Lerner
at Songwriters Hall of Fame

Shubert Theater
at the Shubert Organization


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Style Manuals for Music

Writing About Music by Richard Wingell    ML 3797.W54 2002

Music Research: a Handbook by Laurie J. Sampsel    Ref ML113 .S28 2009

A Short Guide to Writing about Music by Jonathan Bellman    ML3797 .B4 2007


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Citing Sources

Geisel Library has both print and electronic resources on how to properly cite research materials. Always confirm the style required by your instructor.


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