Collection Overview

The Jonathan Levy Collection was donated to ASU Libraries in 1999. It contains over 600 books with copyrights from the 17th through 20th centuries, and manuscripts chronicling Levy's distinguished academic and professional career. This collection documents the very early history of Theatre for Youth, the position of children in society, and the taste and sensibility of historical periods. These subjects are addressed in the following types of books: plays to be acted for and by children; school textbooks, readers and speakers; annuals and gift books, many with short plays; biographies of playwrights and children's writers; criticism and history of theatre for young audiences; reference books on children and theatre; and dialogues and recitations. Levy has been amassing this collection since the 1960s. These published monographs and periodicals are catalogued separately on the ASU Libraries online catalogue under the call numbers SPEC LEV and SPEC LEVP.


According to Levy, building his library started almost by accident while he was working on his doctoral degree and beginning his teaching career. " . . . I was also writing plays, some of which were plays for children. I got interested in who had written plays for children before me, why they did it and what good they thought could come of it. I looked for a standard general history of the field and found, to my surprise, that none existed. From then on, I began to buy books for my own use, out of curiosity. Over the years I got increasingly serious about my collection and worked with antiquarian booksellers in America and Europe to build the collection. Also, when I was traveling, I spent a good deal of time looking through piles of old books in second-hand shops, barns, flea markets and so on, occasionally finding some treasure that had been previously overlooked. That was, as any collector will tell you, the most satisfactory of all."

Levy's manuscripts document his playwriting for adult and young audiences, arts consulting and academic careers. Also included are the research and pre-print materials for his books and articles and his curricular work with Project Zero at Harvard University and with the International Baccalaureate Organization. A finding aid with a list of the materials in the Levy manuscript collection is located in the Luhrs Reading Room in Hayden Library. To access an electronic copy in Microsoft Word format, click here.
The Levy donation supplements the theatre for youth scholarly resources in Special Collections. Previously the Child Drama Collection documented the history of the field from 1900 onward. The Levy collection expands research possibilities back to the 17th century. This makes ASU the largest repository of materials on theatre for youth in the United States.
Levy Biography Early Play Index Book Samples
Child Drama Collection