A New York Public Library website


The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts has collected approximately 1.5 million theater, dance and concert music programs going back 150 years. Imagine turning these documents into an enormous database of performing arts history.

For the opening act, NYPL Labs digitized about 1,000 early 20th century theater programs from 5 microfilm reels and, working together with curators, built a tool for transcribing them.


The Library needs your help capturing key information about the performances these programs represent. Stuff like: theater name, location, show title and date -- as well as details such as cast lists, production staff (and the beautifully, sometimes hilariously, antiquated advertisements found throughout).

The entities you transcribe will be compared with the submissions of other users to form a "consensus document", which will contribute to a crowd-vetted directory of historical performance in New York (and perhaps beyond)!

Thanks in advance for lending your time and knowledge to this experiment. Get in touch at ensemble@nypl.org with any feedback or questions. Follow @ensemblenypl


Project Curator:
Doug Reside - Digital Curator for the Performing Arts
Project Director:
Ben Vershbow - Manager, NYPL Labs
Lead Developer:
Paul Beaudoin - Application Developer, NYPL Labs
Mauricio Giraldo - Interaction Designer, NYPL Labs
Product Manager / Community Manager:
David Riordan - Product Manager, NYPL Labs

Special thanks:
Chris Lintott, Arfon Smith, Stuart Lynn and the amazing team at Zooniverse

Thanks also to:
Jackie Davis - Director, Library for the Performing Arts
Ann Thornton - Mellon Director, The New York Public Library
Karen Nickeson - Curator, Billy Rose Theatre Division, Library for the Performing Arts
Jeff Roth - Vice President of Strategic Planning, NYPL
Micah May - Director of Strategy, NYPL
Victoria Steele - Brooke Russell Astor Director of Collections Strategy, NYPL
Matt Morgan - Director of the website, NYPL
Jane Aboyoun - Vice President & Chief Technology Officer, NYPL Information Technology Group (ITG)
Jay Haque - Director, Systems Architecture and Ops, NYPL ITG
Peter Milanese - Lead Systems Engineer, NYPL ITG
Brett Richter - Systems Administrator, NYPL ITG
Greg Cram - Rights Clearance, NYPL
Brian Foo & Trevor Thornton - NYPL Labs
Madame Sherry - A Musical Play in Three Acts