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Gish Film Theater Collection - MS 741

Gish Film Theater Collection


The Gish Film Theater Collection was established by Dr. Ralph Wolfe, Curator of the Gish Film Theater and Gish Professor of Film Studies. In discussions with the Director of the Center for Archival Collections, Dr. Wolfe decided that the Center would be the appropriate repository for documents and materials he collected or had donated to the Gish Film Theater.

The first documents were transferred in 1987 and included much on the establishment of the Gish Film Theater and on Dorothy and Lillian Gish. The Jean Arthur Papers were donated by Ralph Wolfe in 1988 with an addition to the Papers donated in 1996 by Dr. Wolfe and in 1997 by John Oller, who wrote her biography, Jean Arthur: The Actress Nobody Knew. Maidie Norman donated her scrapbooks in 1994. Dr. Wolfe continually donates documentation on the Theater and Eva Marie Saint.

Some documents, photographs and artifacts are on display at the Gish Film Theater and materials are circulated from and back to the Collection on an annual basis. This Collection is open to the researching public. The collection was arranged and described by Ann Bowers, University Archivist in March 1998. Materials on display are handled by the Center's Document Conservator, Eric Honneffer.

Agency History

On June 11, 1976, an old lecture hall in Hanna Hall became known as the Gish Film Theater. This Theater was dedicated to Dorothy and Lillian Gish, natives of Ohio, because of their success in the American film industry. The Theater also commemorated the debut of the acting career of Lillian Gish, in Risingsun, Ohio, at age five.

In 1979, Lillian Gish endowed a scholarship in film studies at Bowling Green State University under the names of Dorothy and Lillian Gish. In 1989, Dr. Ralph Wolfe, who conceived the idea of the Gish Film Theater and has directed its improvements and programs in his role as curator, was named Gish Professor of Film Studies.

In October 1982, the first phase of a renovation project was completed with the dedication of a collection of photographs from the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The collection included pictures of both Dorothy and Lillian Gish, and Lillian was present for this dedication. The first phase included a new marquee and a gallery where the photograph collection has been displayed. In October 1990, the renovation project was completed and the Theater was rededicated. Remodeling of the stage, projection area and 168 new seats were part of this second stage. Each seat bears the name of friends and admirers of Lillian Gish, all of whom have made contributions to the Theater. With these contributions an endowment was created which has brought films and speakers to the Theater on a regular basis. The Gish Film Theater is becoming known both as an historical landmark and a strong component of the University's academic program.

Ralph Wolfe and other interested friends and admirers of Lillian Gish have established a National Advisory Committee which sets goals for emphasizing the national significance of the Theater. Eva Marie Saint and Roddy McDowall have served as co-chairs of this Committee.

Through the activities of Ralph Wolfe, scrapbooks, photographs, newsclippings and other documents regarding the lives of Dorothy Gish, Lillian Gish, Jean Arthur, Eva Marie Saint, and Maidie Norman have been donated to the Gish Film Theater Collection. Dorothy and Lillian Gish's materials are an obvious part of the Gish Film Theater Collection. For the others, their professional careers reflect stage and film history, and some have had strong connections with Lillian Gish.

Scope and Content

The Gish Film Theater Collection is divided into record groups, which are listed below.

The Collection has been arranged and described using these Record Groups. The rationale behind this arrangement scheme is to allow for additions to these Record Groups to be easily filed. It also allows for other individuals whose lives relate to the overall scope of the Collection to have their documents added. Each Record Group has its own description with the box/folder inventory.

Manuscripts by Subject | Arts & Entertainment | Miscellaneous Collections | Women's Studies Collections
MS 741: Introduction | Gish Film Theater Papers | Dorothy Gish Papers | Lillian Gish Papers
Jean Arthur Papers | Eva Marie Saint Papers | Maidie Norman Papers