What is a broadside?
A large, printed sheet of paper. Historically, broadsides were used to communicate a message textually – for example, announcing events.
Searching the catalogue
The catalogue is the primary tool researchers can use to discover resources held by the Library. The catalogue includes not only our physical collections but also links to online subscription resources, digitised material, audio recordings and finding aids for manuscripts and selected PROMPT Australian Performing Arts Programs and Ephemera collections.
Searching for the names of artists, venues and troupe or company names can be the best place to start.
When you find material that is a match for what you need, review the subject headings, authors and contributors in the catalogue record. Subject headings can be clicked to view a listing of similar materials.
Browse by subject
Although you can’t browse the Library’s shelves in person, you can use the catalogue to browse by title, author, subject or call number. Subject is often the most useful.
To search for general works about performing arts, select the ‘Browse alphabetically’ tab in the catalogue, then select ‘subjects’ from the drop down menu. Type a subject in the text box and the catalogue will suggest relevant subject headings.
By browsing by subject you can quickly find related subject headings and see at a glance which ones relate to a large number of items. For example, a search for ‘circus australia’ will display not only Circus -- Australia and Circus -- Australia -- History but numerous niche subjects such as Circus -- Australia -- Anecdotes, Circus -- Australia -- Posters, and Circus -- Comic books, strips, etc amongst others.
Browsing using broad subject headings can be a helpful place to start. Examples of these include:
- Performing arts
- Torres Strait Islanders -- Music
How do I search for:
Enter the performer's name into the catalogue search box. It is recommended that your first search uses all fields as the name may appear in the title (if they are the subject of the work), in the creator field (if it is something they authored or created) or in the subject field.
Depending on the nature of the material, it may be more discoverable under the performer's birth name or stage name; the more variations that are used to search, the more resources will be found.
For broader searches it can be useful to search by occupation. Some examples of these are Artistic directors, Ballet dancers, Actors, Circus owners or Circus performers, Choreographers and Playwrights.
Companies and organisations
It is worth noting that company names may appear within the subject or as a creator/contributor – for example, in this result for Australian Ballet. Initially broad searches without limits are effective.
When researching companies and organisations, you may find related resources – for example, company histories, directories and annual reports.
Annual reports are also known as 'Report to shareholders', 'Annual review' or 'Summary review'. To find them in the catalogue it can be useful to search for the company name and limit the results to ‘Journal’.
Performing arts materials
Identifying materials which are unique to the performing arts sector, such as theatre programs, broadsides and scrapbooks, can be as simple as searching the catalogue for the name of the artist, company, entrepreneur, production or venue followed by the terms 'PROMPT' and 'programs'. An example of this is the Bangarra Dance theatre programs (Indigenous).
Similarly, the term 'broadside' can be used, or 'PROMPT scrapbook' for performing arts scrapbooks.
Finding performing arts ephemera in the PROMPT collection
PROMPT material is arranged predominantly by individual artist (e.g. Nellie Melba) or company (e.g. Bangarra Dance Theatre) or entrepreneur’s name (e.g., J.C. Williamson, Garnet H. Carroll) and also has a dedicated collection finding aid. The PROMPT collection contains material relating to:
- Professional productions performed in Australia, including those featuring overseas performers
- Australian companies and artists performing overseas
- Performances overseas of Australian plays, operas and other works
- General material on Australian performers, playwrights, productions, venues, performing arts organisations, etc.
Reference works and print collections
Reference works are a good place to look when more specialised resources are not proving easy to find. In addition to the direct information they provide, they can be a valuable source of references to other related materials. Some of the reference works in the Library’s collection which relate to the performing arts are:
Find a list of archived webpage collections on the Performing Arts in the Library's discovery service, Trove.
Mura Gadi is an online guide to significant manuscripts, pictures and oral histories in the National Library of Australia relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples prior to 2003.
Collection of posters on children's entertainment: 39 posters from Australian and overseas children’s productions. Acts include 19th century Australian high-wire performer Ella Zuila, Circus Oz, the Flying Fruit Fly Circus, Acrobats of China, the Tintookies and Bananas in Pyjamas.