Skip to main content

Thalian Association Papers

Identifier: SC-MS-305

Scope and Contents

The Thalian Association is an amateur theatre company located in Wilmington, North Carolina. The Association has long had an important presence in the region and considers its founding date to be 1788. The present iteration of the Thalian Association was formed in 1929 and continues to operate today. The papers in this collection are representative of the organization’s history, operations, productions, and involvement in the local community. Dating from 1929 to 2018, this collection contains a wide variety of materials including playbills, photographs, posters, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, and records. It is divided into seven series and the bulk of the material primarily relates to Thalian Association productions.


  • Creation: 1929-2019

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Copyright Statement

Copyright retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Historical Note

The Thalian Association, known today as the Thalian Association Community Theatre, is an amateur community theatre company located in Wilmington, North Carolina. The Thalian name is derived from the Greek goddess, Thalia, the Muse of Comedy who is often represented with the comic mask and a shepherd’s crook in her hand.

Many iterations of the Thalian Association have existed throughout the years, with the first group organizing in 1788. Col. James G. Burr’s publication, The Thalian Association of Wilmington, N.C., details the group’s reorganization four times through 1871 and additional documented instances of Thalian Association productions persist until the present group organized in 1929.

Following the reformation of the present Thalian Association, the group became associated with the management of Wilmington’s famed Thalian Hall until 1973, when a fire necessitated the closing of the building and a major renovation. Since it’s reopening, the Thalian Association has continued to use the hall for their performances each season. Today, the Thalian Association produces five major productions annually on the main stage at Thalian Hall.

In recent decades, the Thalian Association has expanded its interests to include various aspects of both community theater and the local arts community. In 1979, the Youth Theatre program was established to provide children of all ages with an opportunity for theatre training and performance. Today, the program offers five children’s productions annually. In 1994, the Association assumed management of the Hannah Block USO and Community Arts Center and launched the Orange Street ArtsFest the following year to promote the local arts community. Finally, in 2013, the Association signed a four year lease with the Red Barn Studio, which was founded by Linda Lavin and her husband, Steve Kaunas. Notable dramas and contemporary plays, as well as TACT musical productions, were put in the studio through the summer of 2017.


31 Containers (Contains 23 document boxes, 7 oversize boxes, and 1 oversize folder.)

Language of Materials




  1. Organizational Records
  2. Production Seasons
  3. Productions
  4. Newspaper Clippings
  5. Photographs
  6. Scrapbooks
  7. Posters

The Thalian Association Papers are arranged in seven series as follows:

Series 1 Organizational Records: This series is further divided into seven sub-series including Operations, Minutes, Correspondence, Thalian Association History, Thalian Hall, Community Arts Center, and Miscellaneous Documents. The Operations sub-series contains documents related to the operations of the Thalian Association as a non-profit organization. Topics include founding documents, membership efforts, fundraising efforts, anniversary celebrations, and newspaper coverage. The Minutes sub-series contains meeting agendas, minutes, and balance sheets for both the Thalian Association Board of Directors and the Executive Committee. In some cases, additional documents are grouped with meeting minutes as they pertain to agenda items discussed during a meeting. Examples of additional documents include correspondence, promotional material samples, and planning documents for season play selections. The Correspondence sub-series contains miscellaneous correspondence dating from 1930 to 2010. Where possible, original order was maintained with regard to correspondence in this collection and can be found in other series throughout these papers. The Thalian Association History sub-series contains compiled and published histories, photocopied primary sources, newspaper articles, and hand written notes pertaining to the history of the Thalian Association. The Thalian Hall sub-series contains documents related to the restoration and repair of Thalian Hall throughout the years, as well as a lease agreement and souvenir reopening booklet. The Community Arts Center sub-series contains documents related to the Community Arts Center, which is owned by the City of Wilmington and managed by the Thalian Association. The Miscellaneous Documents sub-series contains completed research assignments by UNCW students in partnership with the Thalian Association as well as playbills by other local theatre groups.

Series 2 Production Seasons: This series contains materials related to the planning and implementation of each production season, primarily dating from July to June each year, for the Thalian Association. Included are planning documents, budget documents, promotional materials, season brochures, newspaper clippings and other associated press coverage, and annual meeting and theater awards documents.

Series 3 Productions: This series contains materials related to plays produced by the Thalian Association. Included in this series are playbills, newspaper clippings, promotional materials, press releases, ephemera, production documents (schedules, cast lists, etc.), photographs, and scrapbook pages. Stage notations begin in 2001 to indicate if the production was associated with the Children’s Theater, Main Stage, Red Barn Studio, or other local theaters.

Series 4 Newspaper Clipping:s This series contains both original and photocopied newspaper clippings regarding Thalian Association productions and organization history.

Series 5 Photographs: This series contains photograph albums compiled by members of the Thalian Association as well as unidentified photographs. Where possible, identified photographs are filed with the associated play in the Productions series.

Series 6 Scrapbooks: This series contains scrapbooks compiled by members of the Thalian Association.

Series 7 Posters: This series contains large promotional posters for Thalian Association production seasons and individual plays, primarily dating from 2008 to present.

Acquisition Information

This collection is on loan to Randall Library Special Collections by the Thalian Association Board of Directors.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Hunter Matthews with the assistance of Rebecca Baugnon.

Thalian Association Papers
Rebecca Baugnon and Hunter Matthews
2019 April 1
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Randall Library Special Collections Repository