The Theatrical Promotion Collection primarily consists of broadsides advertising theatrical events at major and minor English theaters, but also includes a small number of American, Scottish, and French broadsides, theater programs, directories, newspapers, and other literature relevant to the theater industry. The bulk of the material, produced between 1820 and 1836, represents the last years of the patent theater period (1660-1843), during which particular London theaters held a monopoly on "legitimate" dramatic productions.
With the growing popularity of theatrical entertainment among the working classes in the early to mid-nineteenth century, patent laws became infrequently enforced and the Theatre Regulation Act of 1843 finally abolished the exclusive rights of the patent theatres to present legitimate drama. In addition to dramatic plays, many theaters offered opera, ballet, musicals, burlesque, pantomime, and other public entertainments. The Collection is arranged alphabetically by theater name and chronologically within.