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Nina Vance Alley Theatre Papers

Identifier: 2000-004

The Nina Vance Alley Theatre Papers document Nina Vance's career developing and directing the Alley Theatre and also contains personal items from her life. The collection is divided into three series: Personal Papers, Correspondence, and Alley Theatre Papers. The collection includes correspondence, production materials, scripts, programs, sound recordings, clippings, speeches, scrapbooks, date books, and miscellaneous items such as receipts and ephemera.


  • 1923-1980


Conditions Governing Access

Portions of this collection are restricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Special Collections owns the physical items in our collections, but copyright normally belongs to the creator of the materials or their heirs. The researcher has full responsibility for determining copyright status, obtaining permission to publish from copyright holders, and abiding by current copyright laws when publishing or displaying copies of Special Collections material in print or electronic form. For more information, consult the appropriate librarian. Reproduction decisions will be made by Special Collections staff on a case-by-case basis.


9.00 linear feet

Biographical Information

Born in 1914, Nina Vance attended Texas Christian University, Columbia University, and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts before coming to Houston as a high school teacher. In 1947, she began a campaign for a resident local theatre, leading to the establishment of the Alley Theatre. The Alley is now one of the nation's leading regional repertory theatres and one of the three oldest resident theatres in the United States.

Nina Vance's years at the Alley were professionally and personally rewarding. In 1958, Great Britain sponsored Ms. Vance on a tour of British repertory theatres. The Ford Foundation awarded her a director's grant in 1959, and in 1960, President John F. Kennedy invited her to serve on the advisory committee of the proposed National Cultural Center, which became the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Secretary of State Dean Rusk appointed her to two terms on the U.S. Commission on International Education and Cultural Affairs, the only woman ever to serve.

Vance, along with seven other American directors traveled to the Russia to observe contemporary Soviet theatre in Moscow. Additional honors include the Matrix Award of Theta Phi, the Outstanding Alumni Award of Texas Southern University, and the Houston Y.W.C.A. Woman of the Year Award. Nina Vance died at the age of 66 in Houston on February 18, 1980, after a long illness. During the Memorial Tribute held in her memory on March 3, 1980, the building was officially renamed The Nina Vance Alley Theatre.

Acquisition Information

Donation of Bettye Fitzpatrick, 2001 Donation of Mrs. Walter D. Murphy, 2004

Separated Materials

3 volume bound copies of Alley Theatre Programs, 1947-1968, available in UH Library Catalog: PN2277.H682 A46 v.1-3

Processing Information

Edward Lukasek, 2005 

Rebecca Russell, 2008

Guide to the Nina Vance Alley Theatre Papers
Edward Lukasek, Rebecca Russell
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections Repository

University of Houston Libraries Special Collections
MD Anderson Library
4333 University Drive
Houston TX 77204-2000 USA