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A guide to conducting research in Dance at Barnard College

Databases for Primary Sources

Local Libraries & Archives

New York Public Library (NYPL)

The NYPL Catalog searches the circulating and non-circulating research collections at the New York Public Library's Library for the Performing Arts at the Lincoln Center, including those at the Jerome Robbins Dance Division and the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive (TOFT).  The TOFT has many archival videos of New York theatre productions that can be viewed at the Library for the Performing Arts by researchers with an appointment.

NYPL's Digital Collections contain many historical resources on dance, including photographs, letters, manuscripts, and videos (note: most videos can only be viewed on-site at the Library for the Performing Arts).

The nearby NYPL Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture contains archives and other materials from local black dancers and choreographers, such as Katherine DunhamLavinia WilliamsJean-Léon Destiné, and Arthur Mitchell.


Barnard Archives & Special Collections

Barnard Library Archives & Special Collections contain college dance department recordsprograms, and moving images from 1925-2011 (all recent videos of productions are in the dance department), as well as personal archives such as the Ntozake Shange papers. Collections and finding aids are searchable in CLIO.

The Barnard Archives' Digital Collections includes photographs, the Annual & Mortarboard, student publications, the Barnard Bulletin, and others.


Columbia University Rare Book & Manuscripts Library (RBML)

The Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library contains archivesoral histories, and materials from dancers and choreographers such as Arthur Mitchell.


Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)

The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)'s Hamm Archives contains information on BAM as well as dance and the arts in the surrounding Brooklyn community. Their collection includes programs, scrapbooks, photographs, posters, and ephemera.  Videos of BAM productions are available at the NYPL Library for the Performing Arts.


The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress has many collections relating to dance, including streaming media examples, drawings, documents, and secondary essays. Each collection contains bibliographies for related resources. Collections include:

Data & Statistics

Common Sources of Data

These are some of the most useful sources with the most relevant data pertaining to the performing arts. For help in interpreting, analyzing, visualizing, or presenting data, visit Barnard's Empirical Reasoning Center (ERC) located in on the first floor of the Milstein Center.

  • The National Endowment for the Arts research section splits its reports into four categories: Artists in the Workforce, Arts Participation, Arts & the Economy, and Arts &... Each category contains in-depth reports and analyses of research topics in the arts, as well as arts data profiles (collections of statistics, graphics, and summary results from data-mining about the arts) that relate to the subject. These are just some of the highlights for each category—to see all the NEA research reports, go here and to see all NEA arts data profiles, go here.
    • National Archive for Data on Arts & Culture (NADAC) is a repository that facilitates research on arts and culture by acquiring data, particularly those funded by federal agencies and other organizations, and sharing those data with researchers, policymakers, people in the arts and culture field, and the general public. NADAC helps users identify specific arts and cultura data, analyze and create customized subsets of selected datasets, find publications that use NADAC data, as well as use and understand research data.
    • The Survey for Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA) has been in place since 1982, and is the largest, most representative survey of adult patterns in arts participation.
  • NYC-Arts Alliance began economic impact studies in 1983 to examine the arts in NYC as an economic engine.
  • Americans for the Arts contains several types of reports and tools on the arts and culture industry, including arts and economic prosperity, arts and health, corporate social responsibility and the arts, arts and funding, arts and education, and more.


Financial Information

Candid 990 Finder provides an access point to look up publicly stored tax records of non-profits, especially useful for seeing more detailed information on the finances of a dance company or dance organization. You can normally see the past three years of an organization's taxes. Keep in mind the most recent tax information will probably be at least a year old.

You won't need all of the information on a 990, you'll mostly be looking at revenue, expenses, employees, gifts and grants, programs, board members, and so on. These two pages have useful information on decoding the 990 forms.

Interviews & Websites as Primary Sources


Interviewing someone associated with a theatre or organization can be very useful for primary source research, but it's important to prepare. The Purdue Online Writing Lab has a helpful page on how to prep for and conduct an interview. Research already existing interviews with this person, so you don't repeat questions that are easily found - you want to be cognizant of their time.


Deep-searching a Website

Advanced Google Search

Use this to search within a website. You can limit to a particular website or domain in the "site or domain" field. For example, try the word "grant" along with the name of the organization to see if they received money from a grant.

  • Enter .edu to look at school websites - especially helpful for finding programs with theatres and schools.
  • Enter .org to look at non-profit organizations, like the Mellon, Carnegie, and Shubert foundations that often provide arts grants.
  • Enter .gov to explore US Government websites, such as the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Wayback Machine

From the Internet Archive, the Wayback Machine is a digital archive of the internet, consisting of browsable snapshots of over 240 billion URLs. This is an ideal way to find historical production information about a company or group. Use the "Save Page Now" feature to capture a website as it appears now for use as a trusted citation in the future.