An article by 'Icarus' published in The Australasian, dated July 10, 1937, makes mention of the JCW scene books, and in particular a Mr W. White, who was charged with maintaining them. The article demonstrates the mammoth task of co-ordinating the technical elements of a touring JCW production, and the great lengths the company went to document their works.
HEREABOUTS I met Mr. W. White, who, among other things, has to know all about all the scenery used by J. C. Williamson Ltd. since time began. He has a book and index, in which there is a photograph of every scene painted by the company. He knows how to lay his hand on any one of them in five minutes. Besides the vast stores attached to His Majesty's Theatre in Exhibition street, "J.C.W." own an even larger block in Richmond, which contains an enormous amount of scenery and properties—all catalogued and instantly accessible. All their hundreds of back-cloths are also available. Any show they have ever staged could be dug out at an hour's notice.
Excerpt from "Before the curtain rises" (The Australasian, 1937)
Theatre Heritage Australia maintains an ever increasing collection of digital assets including rare books, archival images and audio.
These audio files were originally distributed as CDs with ON STAGE, the magazine of THA. They are now available to listen online.
THA has digitised a number of important books, pamphlets & programs, now out of copyright
JCW Scene Books
Digitized Scene Books from the JC Williamson collection held by Scenic Studios, Preston.
Theatrical and musical items including engravings, photographs, newspaper cuttings, and entrance tickets.
The THA has a digital collection of rare production photographs, many from the JC Williamson era.
Digitizing the JC Williamson Scene Books
Between 2014–2016, THA undertook a program of digitization of Scene Books from the JC Williamson collection held by Scenic Studios, Preston. The collection comprises thousands of images of JCW sets, backdrops, scenic details, lighting rigs etc. stretching back to the end of the nineteenth century.
The collection comprises 10 digitized volumes and is now available to view online.
The John Riley/Fred Hailes Scrapbook contains theatrical and musical items including engravings, photographs, newspaper cuttings, and entrance tickets. The scrapbook was compiled between the 1830s and 1917 by at least two people, circus performer John Riley (c.1819-1911), and journalist Fred Hailes (c.1852-1917). The ‘scraps’ are pasted on 309 pages of an international trade book.
Early production photos
Pirates of Penzance
My Fair Lady
The Pajama Game
The Chalk Garden
Trial by Jury