1400 Washington AveAlbanyNY
1400 Washington AveAlbanyNY

Paul Bruce Pettit Papers


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Personal and professional papers of Paul Bruce Pettit, professor of theatre at the University at Albany, 1947-1972. Includes essays, play scripts and literary writings produced while enrolled in graduate programs at Cornell University, his theses (M.A. 1943 and Ph.D. 1949), correspondence, offprints of articles about theater related subjects, newspaper clippings, scripts of radio broadcasts (1947-1948), and lecture notes from Pettit's tenure as a professor and chairman of the Department of Theatre. While on a Fulbright Scholarship Pettit directed the National Theater in Cyprus (1964 and 1965) and was known for his work in arena theater.


Pettit, Paul Bruce
Date Coverage:
2.0 cubic ft. (about 2.0 boxes)

Paul Bruce Pettit (1920-1972) was a professor of theatre and the first chair of the Department of Theatre at the University at Albany, 1947-1972.

Pettit was born in Greensburg, Indiana, on July 9, 1920. After completing high school at The Principia in Saint Louis, Missouri, he attended and received a Bachelor of Arts (1942) in English from Alfred University in Alfred, New York. Immediately following his graduation Pettit enrolled in graduate school at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where he became involved in the vibrant theatre arts community. Pettit earned a Master of Arts (1943) and a Doctor of Philosophy (1949) from Cornell.

Though their marriage did not last, E. Bernice "Bunny" Pettit (nee Minkler) was very involved in Dr. Pettit's professional life while they were together, often collaborating on projects or accompanying him to events. She also mothered their two children, Alexander Drummond and Faith Caldwell Pettit.

Dr. Pettit was appointed to the faculty at New York State College for Teachers in 1947 in the combined English and Dramatic Arts Department and remained employed at the institution until his death. After the college became the State University of New York at Albany, he was instrumental in the forming of the Department of Speech and Dramatic Arts and fostered the evolution into the Department of Theatre which he initially chaired. As a professor of theatre, he was actively involved in the American Educational Theatre Association (AETA). After returning from a Fulbright Scholarship in Greece (1950-51) where he directed the Athens Players, and with a renewed interest in arena theater, Pettit founded the Arena Summer Theatre at the university in 1952. Dr. Pettit traveled extensively, particularly in the Mediterranean, on various grants and Fulbright Scholarships. In 1964 Dr. Pettit and his family were among hundreds of Americans evacuated from the strife-torn island of Cyprus during the escalating Greek-Turkish conflicts. Until the struggle made his work there impossible, Dr. Pettit had served as American advisor and director of the Greek-Cypriot National Theatre in Nicosia, Cyprus.

Drawing on his cultural background, Dr. Pettit was often called on to contribute to the surrounding community as a subject expert. From 1947-1949, WROW radio featured Dr. Pettit as an entertainment critic. He provided a start-up for Albany Civic Theater and served as president of the Albany League of Arts working directly with the New York State Council on the Arts. In his capacity as president of the Albany League of Arts, Dr. Pettit proposed and advocated for the building of a Cultural Arts Center for the City of Albany.

In 1971, while on leave from the university, Dr. Pettit served as Visiting University Fellow and director of program development in the fine arts for the newly established Empire State College. Prior to returning to his teaching post at the university in 1972, Dr. Pettit died of a heart attack in his home. He was 52 years old.

The information provided above was gleaned from the following sources, in addition to those found in the Paul Bruce Pettit Papers themselves:

This collection documents Dr. Paul Bruce Pettit's professional life as a researcher, professor, and arts administrator. Materials in the collection include folders that contain correspondence, academic papers and other samplings of work that Dr. Pettit produced while enrolled in graduate programs (M.A. and Ph.D.) at Cornell University, 1942-43 and 1947-49 respectively. Besides three bound copies of printed scripts from his radio broadcasts of theatrical reviews, 1947-1948, there are also copies of his master's thesis and doctoral dissertation, The Important American Dramatic Types to 1900: A Study of the Yankee, Negro, Indian, and Frontiersman, 1949.

Correspondence, offprints of articles about theater related subjects, plays and reviews, and lecture notes from Dr. Pettit's tenure as a professor of theatre at the University at Albany (known as New York State College for Teachers at the time of hire) are also part of the collection, 1947-72.

Additionally, there is material from within this time frame that includes a bound copy of his play A Night from a Thousand Nights and a Night translated into Arabic, and presented while directing the National Theatre in Cyprus as part of a Fulbright scholarship, 1964-1965. Writings in the collection from the era and clippings give an account of Dr. Pettit's and other Americans evacuation from Cyprus when a Turkish invasion appeared eminent. There are other newspaper clippings chronicling Dr. Pettit's accomplishments throughout his life.

The majority of the file names are names that Dr. Pettit assigned them based on handwritten or typed labels the archivist found on the original folders in the collection. If there was no label indicating the file's name, the archivist chose a name based on the subject of the records. All the files are arranged chronologically. Within the files, items are arranged based on the year of their creation.

Related collections in the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives include the records of the Department of Theatre (UA-609) and the Jarka M. Burian Papers, (UA-902.017).

The collection is organized chronologically. There are no series.

The Department of Theatre donated the Paul Bruce Pettit Papers in 1973 and 1978.

Processed by: W. Dan Johnson

Collection record created by: This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on

Published: 2018-03-06 02:48:06 -0500

Encoded in EAD by W. Dan Johnson, 2014

Archival materials can be view in-person during business hours in our reading room, located on the top floor of the Science Library on the Uptown Campus.

We can also deliver digital scans for remote research for a fee.

Access to this collection is unrestricted with the exception of one file noted on the inventory.

Copyright Statement

The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Paul Bruce Pettit Papers, 1938-1972. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the Pettit Papers).

Contents of Collection



1 1Personal Records1938, 1942-1945, 1955-1958


1 2Pettit Photographs1938, Undated


1 3"The Director: A Study in Responsibilities"1942


1 4"Analysis ofA Night at an Inn"1942


1 5"Analysis ofA Night at an Inn"1942


1 6 Walt Disney's Dumbo 1942


1 7Paper on Tragedy1943


1 8"Comedy"1943


1 9-11"The Showboat Theatre: The Development of the Showboat on the Mississippi River and on the Eastern Waterways" (draft copy)1943


1 12-13"The Showboat Theatre: The Development of the Showboat on the Mississippi River and on the Eastern Waterways" (copy)1943


1 14Personal Correspondence1943, 1945-1950, 1952, 1956, 1962


1 15 The Cornell Widow 1944, 1947, Undated


1 16"Swindled!"1945


1 17"Showboat Theatre"1945


1 18"Notes and Footnotes on John Rogers, N.A."1946


1 19"Carpet of Lace"1946


1 20"Blue Ribbons for Betsy"ca. 1946


1 21"Modern Staging"ca. 1946


1 22Speaking Engagements and Writings1947, 1950, 1953-1954, 1956-1963, Undated


1 23Professional Papers1947-1951, 1953, 1955-1957, 1961


1 24WROW Radio (Albany, NY)1947-1948, Undated


Oversized 1WROW Radio (Albany, NY), Pettit Radio Scripts 1947-1948
More Details

3 Volumes


1 25WROW (Albany, NY), Pettit Radio Scripts1948


1 26Showboats (Philip Graham) Correspondence1948-1949


1 27-31"The Important American Dramatic Types to 1900: A Study of the Yankee, Negro, Indian, and Frontiersman" (manuscript copy)1949


1 32-35"The Important American Dramatic Types to 1900: A Study of the Yankee, Negro, Indian, and Frontiersman" (library copy)1949, 1971


1 36"The Renaissance and the Commedia dell' Arte"1949


1 37-38Theatre Dept. Papers Submitted to P. B. Pettit-[RESTRICTED] 1950, 1952-1953, 1959-1961, Undated


2 1"Staff, Present: Pettit, Paul Bruce"1951-1972


2 2"Greece Through the Stage Door," Offprint Article, Correspondence1951-1952


2 3American University at Cairo1951-1952, 1956-1957


2 4"Showboats Review"1952


2 5Smith, C. D. (Duryea), Alfred University1952-1955, 1957


2 6Newspaper Clippings1952-1956


2 7"Arena Theatre is the Answer"1953


2 8American Educational Theatre Association (AETA)1953-1956, 1963


2 9Albany Civic Theatre1955, Undated


2 10AETA: Teacher Training Project1956-1959, Undated


2 11AETA Project Reports (other than teacher training)1956-1957, 1961


2 12Slingerlands Community Players1958


2 13Tragedy and Comedy (Lectures)1959


2 14"A Life Full Lived"1959


2 15Newspaper Clippings1960-1962


2 16"Theatre for Today's School"1960


2 17Religious Drama: 1st Church in Albany. Talk. 9/20/61.1961


2 18Albany League of Arts: New York State Council on the Arts Conference, Binghamton1961


2 19Albany League of Arts: New York State Council on the Arts1961-1962


2 20"New Horizons for the Theatre in Your Community"1961


2 21The Ministry of Education and National GuidanceA Night from a Thousand Nights and a Night1961


2 22Bethlehem Central School District: Committee for Study of Utilization of Elementary School Facilities (PBP sub-com. Report)1961


3 1-2Bethlehem Central School District: Committee for Study of Utilization of Elementary School Facilities1961-1963


3 3RE: Bertolt Brecht, Correspondence with Holly Beye Ruff1962-1963


3 4Fredonia lecture, 7/25/63. "The Crab on the Clock without Hands"1963


3 5Newspaper Clippings (Subject: Cyprus)1963-1965


3 6"Towards a National Theatre for the Republic of Cyprus"1964


3 7Fulbright Scholarship - Cyprus and Syria1964


3 8"The Middle-aged Theatre and the New, New U"1965


3 9Newspaper Clippings1965-1967, 1969, 1971


3 10"Ala-Ed-Din, the Caliph, and the Dreadful Magician"1971


3 11Székely, György (George)1971-1972


3 12Albany Civic Theatre1972


3 13Pettit - Sabbatical1972