Pen, Paint, and Pretzels Records, 1900 -- 2018


Title: Pen, Paint, and Pretzels Records
Dates: 1900 -- 2018
Bulk Dates: 1930 -- 1980
Creator: Department of Drama and Dance
Call Number: UA068
Size: 54.27 Cubic Feet, 82 Volumes, 75 Digital Object(s), 1 Web sites
Permanent URL:
    Digital Collections and Archives, Tufts University


This collection is composed of materials relating to the organization Pen, Paint, and Pretzels, also known as 3P's. Most of the materials relate chiefly to individual productions produced or co-produced by Pen, Paint, and Pretzels. Materials include scripts, promptbooks and playbooks, cue sheets, production notes, costume sketches, rehearsal schedules, photographs, programs, fliers, and other promotional materials. The collection also contains materials documenting the organizations history and business, such as their constitution, meeting minutes, scrapbooks, financial documents, correspondence, member and alumni lists, production licenses, production lists, and clippings. There are also materials relating to Torn Ticket II and the Tufts Community Players (originally the Tuft Graduate Dramatic Society) including copies of their constitutions, and materials relating to Alpha Psi Omega, a Dramatic Performance fraternity, which include pledging materials. The collection also contains CDs, DVDs, and mini DVs of 3P's events and productions, historic material related to the 3P's, and a 3P's branded shot glass.


This collection is organized in six series: Scrapbooks, Play Books, and Drama Department records; Production images; Scripts and publicity materials; Web crawls; 2016-2018 accessions; and Unprocessed accessions.


Pen, Paint, and Pretzels was founded in 1910 by five members of the class of 1911. The organization's goal was to encourage dramatic interest at Tufts College by the production of original plays by students or graduates of Tufts or Jackson. Pen was to signify the writers, paint the artists, and pretzels the audience. Although prior to 1910 there had been a few drama organizations at Tufts, they were short-lived and generally unsuccessful. In the spring of that year, Clifford Amsden, Walston Brown, Harold Gallupe, Charles Gott, and John Libby came together to form Pen, Paint, and Pretzels, designed to be a more permanent organization. With the help of Professor Leo R. Lewis, the five juniors organized auditions and found a stage space in Jackson Gym. Their first production, "Teamwork," written by Gott and Gallupe, premiered December 15, 1910. By 1912, the founders had graduated, but Pen, Paint, and Pretzels had earned enough money to install lighting and dimmers on the Jackson stage, and was also able to purchase costume and scenery materials. Although the organization did not only perform plays by Tufts authors, Pen, Paint, and Pretzels quickly became very popular around campus, playing to full houses and garnering excellent reviews. With the outbreak of World War I, Pen, Paint, and Pretzels began to take their performances on the road. They performed at nearby barracks for soldiers and did benefit shows to encourage the purchase of war bonds. After the war, Pen, Paint, and Pretzels continued to perform charity shows at locations all around New England. In 1921, future Tufts president Leonard Carmichael was elected president of the organization, and in 1924, their performance of "Romeo and Juliet" was broadcast over AMRAD's station, WGI. It was one of the first times a play was broadcast live over the airwaves. Since 1915, Pen, Paint, and Pretzels worked closely with the Masque, the drama society of Jackson College. The two groups collaborated on many plays, fundraising and holding auditions jointly. Finally, in 1930, the two organizations merged under the Pen, Paint, and Pretzels name, increasing the organization's membership and funding. Since then, Pen, Paint, and Pretzels has remained a co-ed organization. During World War II, Pen, Paint and Pretzels decreased their performances as students concentrated on the war effort. Their performance of "Heavenly Express" in 1941 was interrupted to broadcast Roosevelt's announcement that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. Immediately following the war, enrollment at Tufts swelled, and demand for seating at Pen, Paint, and Pretzels events greatly increased. For some of its performances, the organization packed up and moved to Pearson Hall in order to accommodate a larger audience. In 1948, the Department of Athletics finally vacated Jackson Gym, which was already informally known as the Tufts Theater. The facility was given over to the Department of Drama and Speech, but early in 1949, the stage was condemned, forcing the department to stage plays on a raised oval in the middle of the gym floor. This new setup was the first appearance of an arena theater in New England. Pen, Paint, and Pretzels productions were photographed for use in "Amerika," a State Department publication about American culture designed for Soviet citizens. Pen, Paint, and Pretzels continued to stage its productions in the Tufts Arena Theater until its destruction in 1991. Drama productions were then moved to the Marston Balch Arena Theater, constructed in the Aidekman Arts Center the same year. The new theater contains state of the art lighting and stage equipment, and is named after a former Pen, Paint, and Pretzels faculty advisor.

Access and Use

Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use Restrictions

Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Please see "Reproductions and Use" on the Digital Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permission to publish.

No documentation is available regarding the intellectual property rights in this collection.

Preferred Citation

Pen, Paint, and Pretzels Records, 1900-2018. Tufts University. Digital Collections and Archives. Medford, MA.

Collection History

Processing Notes

This collection is partially processed.

Web sites were crawled by Archive-It. Web crawl information updated in finding aid annually.

2016-2018 accessions were processed by Leah Edelman in 2018. Materials were placed in archival boxes if the original housing was damaged, and loose materials were placed in folders where needed. Materials were arranged by accession and format. CDs and DVDs were transferred to a stabilization queue for the Digital Archivist. Box and file-level inventories as well as a series description were created, and the finding aid was updated at the time of processing.


Transferred by 3P's, 2016-2018.

Subjects and Genre Terms
  • Student life

Series Description

  1. Scrapbooks, Play Books, and Drama Department records, 1910 -- 1971

    This series consists of Pen, Paint and Pretzels scrapbooks, Play Books, and production files, as well as Drama Department records related to co-produced plays. There are eleven scrapbooks containing newspaper clippings of performances, reviews and articles, playbills, letters and some photos all relating to Pen, Paint and Pretzels. Nine of the scrapbooks are from a ten volume run; volume three is missing. Drama Department records document productions put on jointly by the two groups. These records include minutes, news clippings, and individual production files. Other records in this series include a Pen, Paint and Pretzels account book dated 1912-1916 and three Drama Department files relating to Tufts Community Players.

  2. Production images, 2009 -- 2010

    This series contains digital images of Pen, Paint and Pretzels productions.

  3. Scripts and publicity materials, 1911 -- 2009

    This series consists of scripts and publicity materials from Pen, Paint and Pencils productions.

  4. Web crawls, 2015 -- 2017

    Quarterly web crawls of the Pen Paint & Pretzels website crawled by DCA, as part of the Student Organizations web collection, to document the presesence of Tufts University student organizations on the web.

  5. 2016 -- 2018 accessions, circa 1940 -- 2018

    This series contains posters, programs, and flyers for 3P's productions and events, as well as CDs, DVDs, and mini DVs of events and productions. This series also contains historic material related to the 3P's, articles by or about the group, awards received or given by the group, leadership rosters and correspondence of the group, as well as a 3P's branded shot glass.

  6. Unprocessed accessions, 1900 -- 2010

View Online Materials

Some of the materials from this collection are available online. Not all materials have necessarily been digitized.