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About the Exhibit

The Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research (WCFTR) was founded in 1960 and is part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Our initial collecting focus was theater but our mission quickly expanded to include the worlds of film and television. The question we are most often asked is how did the papers of people like Dalton Trumbo, Kirk Douglas, Stephen Sondheim, and Edith Head, and many others, end up in Madison? What connection did these people have to the university or Wisconsin? The answer is there was no connection—we wrote them and proposed they establish collections at the WCFTR. Some said yes and others said no. Dalton Trumbo said yes to the idea very quickly as you can see by the correspondence included on this page.

The ending of the blacklist and founding of the WCFTR both happened in 1960. The blacklist and its ramifications on the film and television industries was a subject area the staff of the archives knew future scholars would want to study so they started contacting people who had been affected by the blacklist in late 1960 and early 1961. The WCFTR was able to acquire material from six of the Hollywood Ten along with a number of other writers including Nedrick Young and Millard Lampell. A complete list of the blacklist-related collections held by the WCFTR can be found on the Bibliography page.

The Trumbo collection at the WCFTR documents his life before, during, and after the blacklist. Besides being a screenwriter, Trumbo also wrote several novels, the most famous being Johnny Got His Gun (1939), several plays, short stories, poetry, and articles when he was a war correspondent in the Pacific in 1945. In total, there are 45 boxes of material, as well as over 200 audio recordings. The material made available in this exhibit is just a tiny fraction of what is in the collection. We have chosen to focus on the blacklist in part because that is the portion of the collection people are most interested in—that is not to say that the rest of the material is not interesting—Trumbo led a fascinating life and that is reflected throughout his papers. The exhibit is meant to introduce Trumbo to people who may not know who he is, to provide a glimpse into the collection, and to encourage continued scholarship of not only Dalton Trumbo but of others impacted by the blacklist as well.

A big thank you goes to UW-Madison students Emma Fisher and Phillip Windsor for their contributions to the preparation of this exhibit.

Mary Huelsbeck
Assistant Director
Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research
University of Wisconsin-Madison 


To Dalton Trumbo - September 8, 1961

From Dalton Trumbo - September 15, 1961

Terms of Use for the Collection
The WCFTR provides the information contained in this collection for non-commercial, personal, or research use only. Any other use, including but not limited to commercial or scholarly reproductions, redistribution, publication or transmission, whether by electronic means or otherwise, without prior written permission of the copyright holder is strictly prohibited.