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The Joe Bolton Theater & Film Collection

The Joe Bolton Theater & Film Collection Bookplate

Story originally ran in Spring 1999 Perspectives

In March the OSU Library received more than 200 books from the estate of Joel M. "Joe" Bolton, a 1966 alumnus from Bartlesville. Bolton, who had a lifelong interest in theater and film, collected books on the subject. The collection includes many rare studio histories, scripts, biographies, and signed filmographies, including one by Lana Turner and Jerry Lewis.

When Bolton died in 1997 his family was left with the difficult task of deciding what would happen to his valuable library. Although approached by several local and regional book dealers., the family did not want to see this special collection split up and sold piece by piece.

Bolton's brother, Keith (B.S. 1972) and his wife, Ilo T. Bolton contacted Dr. Bruce Brockman, chair of OSU's Theater Department, to explore whether OSU might have an interest in the collection. Brockman saw immediately the potential value to his students and contacted the Library's Development Officer Jennifer Paustenbaugh.

Head of Special Collections and University Archives, Heather Lloyd, says one reason she was particularly interested in the Bolton Collection was that it would compliment other Library resources that focus on the history of film.

"Besides a growing number of screen plays, we have an extensive collection of movie studio press kits. More than 500 titles have been added in the last two years." The press kits, which are distributed by the movie studios to news papers for publicity purposes, often contain a wealth of information on film, culture, marketing, and history.

The OSU Library made arrangements with the Tulsa World to receive the kits as they are sent by studios. For a list of movie titles, now numbering more than 1700, visit the Library's website at

With that in mind the Library visited with the Bolton family. Lloyd says, "We explained how the collection could be used by the OSU students, faculty, and scholars, so giving the books to OSU became an attractive option." In late March, Bolton's sister Diana Bolton Johnson (B.S. 1962) informed the Library that the family would do just that.

"Obviously, we are pleased to be the recipients of this fine collection. I think Joe Bolton would be pleased that his books will be available to scholars for years to come," Lloyd says.

Bolton received his degree in foreign languages and studied French, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish. Upon graduation for OSU he moved to Chicago where he worked first as a copy editor and then later in financial services for the state of Illinois. In addition to his love of film and theater he was an avid scrabble player and owned a number of exotic birds.

Books in this collection concerning the film industry are shelved in the Library's Special Collections Department; however books concerning the theater are in the Main Collection.

All items are identified with a bookplate and can be located in the Library's online information system.

Give to this Endowment

Some Local Resources:

View the items in the The Joe Bolton Theater & Film Collection

View items held in the OSU Libraries about Film and Theater


For information on the H. Louise & H.E. "Ed" Cobb Speaker Series presented by the Friends of the OSU Library, contact Debbie Clemons at or 405-744-7273.

For more information on giving to the Library contact the Tylerr Ropp at or 405-385-5664 or contact Jill Johnson at or 405-385-0733.