I am earnest in my endeavors to find a means of securing the services of an archivist to organize what is now chaos in some forty years worth of material…we [prefer] not to give up our files. For the present, we would rather continue to seek funds for the services of an archivist to organize what we have for safekeeping here in Ashland.”
--William Patton, OSF General Manager/Executive Director (1953-1995)
William Patton wrote the above words in 1975, politely declining a second offer from the acquisitions librarian at the University of Oregon to relieve the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) of its original archival records. At the time, the idea of an institutionally-based research center of theatrical primary source materials in remote Ashland, Oregon, may have seemed a questionable proposition. But then again, by 1975 Ashland had already proven its ability to defy such assumptions, successfully hosting a world-class Shakespearean Festival since 1935 despite its location hundreds of miles from the nearest major city. Thanks to Patton’s appreciation of OSF’s unique history and his foresight regarding the importance of its records, the OSF Archives remain a comprehensive resource documenting the history of America’s oldest Shakespearean Festival and one of its largest regional repertory theatres—housed entirely onsite in the mountains of rural Oregon. Recent accomplishments funded by the National Historic Publications and Records Commission [NHPRC] have ushered in a new era in the history of the Archives, making the collections more accessible than anyone could have anticipated in 1975.
Read the complete article by OSF Archivist Gwyn Hervochon in Performance!--the newsletter of the Performing Arts Roundtable of the Society of American Archivists (page 8).