The Philbrick Library is a major research collection on the history of English, American and, to a lesser extent, French drama of the late seventeenth through the early nineteenth centuries. It is supported by an extensive collection of modern critical, biographical, and reference literature. Many of the greatest names in English theater, David Garrick, Edmund Kean, and the several members of the Kemble family, among others, are represented here in published memoirs, biographies, original manuscripts, and portraits. The works of important playwrights, from William Shakespeare, whose second and fourth folios are present in the collection, to George Bernard Shaw and Eugene O’Neill can be studied in their earliest published versions. An exceptionally interesting section of the collection is devoted to the English Victorian actors Henry Irving and Ellen Terry and to Terry’s son Gordon Craig, one of the pioneers of modern theatrical design. The Terry-Irving-Craig Collection is rich in manuscripts, letters, drawings, photographs, scrapbooks, and annotated books, providing scholars with numerous sources for original research.
The Library consists of over ten thousand books, pamphlets, and periodicals, two thousand letters by well-known individuals associated with the theater, two hundred framed portraits, posters, photographs, and set and costume designs, a large collection of loose portraits, English and American playbills, manuscripts, and several stage models. The late Dr. and Mrs. Philbrick both graduated from Pomona College. A dedication ceremony for their collection was held in Special Collections on November 8, 1986.