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About Us

The Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research (WCFTR) is one of the world’s major archives of research materials relating to the entertainment industry. It maintains over three hundred collections from outstanding playwrights, television and motion picture writers, producers, actors, designers, directors, and production companies. Materials preserved include: historical records and personal papers, twenty thousand motion pictures, television shows, and videotapes; two million still photographs and promotional graphics; and several thousand sound recordings. It is richest in records of the American film industry between 1930 and 1960, American popular theater in the 1940s and 1950s, and American television from the 1940s to the 1970s.

One of the most important gateways into understanding American culture is the original records of its creators, particularly in the field of drama and audiovisual media. Each year, hundreds of scholars from around the world, as well as creative artists and the interested public, consult our archives and produce important works that draw on the information and visual materials contained in our collections. Our staff can assist researchers looking for materials. 

The WCFTR actively collects the papers and audiovisual materials of individual producers, directors, writers, actors, and other key personnel in the production of U.S. audio/visual/state culture.

Collecting areas we are most interested in developing:

  • Film and television production records
  • Independent producers, directors, and writers
  • Collections with social action significance
  • Innovators in the media field

Housed in the Wisconsin Historical Society's Library-Archives Division, the WCFTR is one of the world’s most accessible archives and is regularly visited by researchers from around the world. Research undertaken in its collections has revolutionized the scholarship of American cinema, theater, and television. 

The WCFTR is a participating member of FIAF, the International Federation of Film Archives, enabling us to borrow filmed material from major archives for UW Cinematheque screenings. The WCFTR, in turn, loans its prints for screenings at events organized or sponsored by other FIAF member archives. Both the UW Cinematheque and Communication Arts Department offer important outreach activities that draw on the Center’s collections and expertise. The WCFTR also partners with the UW School of Library and Information Studies to provide training opportunities for enrolled students in the Archives and Records Management for a Digital Age program.

Paid, work-study, and internship positions will be posted on this page when available—please check here rather than sending emails to staff. If nothing is posted at this time, please check back regularly.


Professor Eric Hoyt
Director, Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research
Department of Communication Arts
6056 Vilas Hall
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Madison, WI  53706

Mary K. Huelsbeck
Assistant Director, Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research
Department of Communication Arts
6039 Vilas Hall 
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Madison, WI  53706

Amanda Smith
Film Archivist, Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research
Department of Commuication Arts
435 Historical Society
816 State Street  Madison, WI 53706