The Jonathan Levy Collection was donated to ASU Library in 1999. It contained over 350 books with copyrights from the 17th through 20th centuries, and manuscripts chronicling Levy's distinguished academic and professional career. Previously the Child Drama Collection only documented the history of the field from 1900 onward. The Levy collection expanded research possibilities back to the 16th century and made the Child Drama Collection the largest repository of materials on theatre for youth in the world.
Jonathan Levy's book collection documents the early history of Theatre for Youth, the position of children in society, and the cultural taste and sensibility of historical periods.
These subjects are addressed in the following types of books:
* Plays to be acted for and by children
* School textbooks, readers and speakers
* Annuals and gift books, many with short plays
* Biographies of playwrights and children's writers
* Criticism and history of theatre for young audiences
* Reference books on children and theatre
* Dialogues and recitations
Levy amassed this collection beginning in the 1960's. These published monographs and periodicals are catalogued separately on the ASU Library online catalogue under the unique call numbers LEV and LEVP.
According to Levy, building his library started almost by accident while he was working on his doctoral degree and beginning his teaching career.
". . . I was also writing plays, some of which were plays for children. I got interested in who had written plays for children before me, why they did it and what good they thought could come of it. I looked for a standard general history of the field and found, to my surprise, that none existed. From then on, I began to buy books for my own use, out of curiosity. Over the years I got increasingly serious about my collection and worked with antiquarian booksellers in America and Europe to build the collection. Also, when I was traveling, I spent a good deal of time looking through piles of old books in second-hand shops, barns, flea markets and so on, occasionally finding some treasure that had been previously overlooked. That was, as any collector will tell you, the most satisfactory of all."
Jonathan Levy is an award-winning playwright, Distinguished Teaching Professor at SUNY Stony Brook and Visiting Scholar at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. He has numerous publications in the fields of theatre for youth: history, criticism and theory; playwriting; arts assessment; and aesthetics. He received the AATE (American Alliance for Theatre & Education) Charlotte B. Chorpenning Playwright Award in 1979 for his body of outstanding plays for children.
His dissertation titled Carlo Gozzi: Three Fables for the Theatre has translations for the following Gozzi plays--Turandot, The Little Green Bird and The Serpent Queen.
For a more detailed biography, see the "biographical note"
in his finding aid on the Arizona Archives Online website.
Levy's manuscripts document his playwriting for adult and young audiences, arts consulting and academic careers. Also included are the research and pre-print materials for his books and articles and his curricular work with Project Zero at Harvard University and with the International Baccalaureate Organization.
A copy of the finding aid with a list of the materials in his manuscript collection is available online at azarchivesonline.org.