Gard Archives @ University of Wisconsin

The Robert Gard Collection, maintained by Archives & Management Services at the University of Wisconsin, includes not only plays, novels, manuscripts and an extensive collection of the correspondence of the late Robert Gard, but also a wide variety of material on theatres, arts councils, local arts organizations, and Wisconsin regional and university history.

The Finding Aid

A finding aid for better access to the Gard materials contained within the 73 archival boxes was created by the University’s Archives and Records Management Staff in 2001 and is available through the following link:

A General Description of Contents:

Of primary interest is Gard’s correspondence, the majority of which is located in Boxes 5 through 26. Notable individuals with whom Gard corresponded include John Charles Cooper, August Derleth, Warren Knowles, and David Stevens. Greatly benefiting the researcher is the large amount of correspondence to which Gard’s replies have been stapled. Some additional correspondence can be found through out the collection, organized by subject. For correspondence relating to a Gard work, see the alphabetical folders of Gard works, and for correspondence relating to an arts organization, see the organization’s files. Substantial correspondence apart from the main collection exists in particular for the Rhinelander School for the Arts and the Wisconsin Rural Writers Association.


Archives & Management Services at University Of Wisconsin

Gard’s plays, novels, manuscripts, background information and notes can be found in Boxes 27 through 32. The collection of plays includes The Border Incident, Cordelia, The Devil Red, The Error Fexton Jones, Wisconsin Showtime, along with numerous others. The collection of manuscripts include a variety of articles, talks, untitled works on theatre and the arts, as well as complete books such as Grassroots Theatre and Theatre in America. Scripts for the radio production This Land, This Heritage, This People take up most of Box 30 and an additional box is devoted to information used by Gard in the preparation of his book University Madison U.S.A. several folders contain an extremely valuable collection of university-related folklore.

The General Subject Files contain a wide variety of material on topics such as national arts associations such as the National Theatre Conference as well as local arts programs and workshops with which Gard was involved. These include the Arts in the Uplands summer arts program in Spring Green, the annual Holiday Folk Fair, the construction of the Park and Playhouse Historique in Portage, workshops given by Lee Strasberg, and numerous others. Additional organizations with extensive coverage include the Council for Wisconsin Writers, the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters, the Wisconsin American Revolution Bicentennial Committee, and the Wisconsin Arts Foundation and Council.


Steenbock Library, University of Wisconsin

Major Subjects are filed separately from the General Subject Files. Of particular interest to the research of Wisconsin history will be four boxes devoted to his vast collection of clippings on Wisconsonites and the history and folklore of Wisconsin towns. Materials relating to Gard’s work in Community Arts Development can be found both in the Community Arts Development folders as well as in the University of Wisconsin Extension Arts Administration folders. Considerable materials in particular exist on the Smaller Community and Rural Area Arts Development program and the Arts and the Small Community Conference, both conducted in the late 1960s. Additional Major Subjects include the Rhinelander School for the Arts, the Wisconsin Idea Theatre, and the Wisconsin Rural Writers Association. Note that an extremely large collection of materials relating to the Wisconsin Idea Theatre can be found in Series 9/4/16-1 through 9/4/16-5.

Gard’s papers also include many plays and manuscripts by other authors. As his correspondence attests, Gard generously helped many amateur writers in Wisconsin by offering them advice on their writing and by helping them to publish their works. These boxes also include several folders of student work that may be useful to researchers with an interest in amateur writing in Wisconsin.

The Robert Gard Collection is an important resource for historians of literature, theatre, the arts, the state of Wisconsin and the University. Held in the Archives’ Steenbock Library facility, the collection is open to the public by appointment.

Contact phone: (608)262-0428