Collection ACC-MSS 013 - Warren Debenham Comedy Ephemera Collection

Identity elements

Reference code

US MBE ACC-MSS 013

Name and location of repository

Level of description

Collection

Title

Warren Debenham Comedy Ephemera Collection

Date(s)

  • 1937 - 2006 (Creation)

Extent

11.75 linear feet

Name of creator

(1933 -)

Biographical history

Warren Debenham was born January 20, 1933 in San Francisco. He studied college at Stanford University and seminary at General Theological Seminary in New York City, and at The Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, CA. One of the foremost collectors in the U.S. with more than 40,000 comedy LPs, 45s, 78s and CDs, Warren Debenham has been collecting comedy albums and humor ephemera for more than 60 years. His LP record collection of comedy and spoken word albums is expansive, and to supplement it he has also collected novelty items, newspaper clippings, toys, and other ephemera. He is considered an authority on comedy recordings, and is often consulted to contribute to catalogs and the indexing of other collections in this field such as the Dr. Demento online playlists, and the Stan Freberg discography. He has worked with Marshall Berle in releasing albums for Laugh.com including Bill Dana’s "Greatest Bits of Jose Jimenez" in 2000. A member of the clergy, collecting has been a pastime and fervent hobby of the Reverend. He was the first rector of the Thomas Episcopal Church of Sunnyvale, CA serving from 1960 as Vicar, and from 1965 - 1973 as Rector. He was Rector of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Albany, CA, did a neighborhood ministry in West Oakland, CA and is now retired and assists part time at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in downtown Oakland. He lives in Berkeley, CA with his wife, Sally. The San Francisco Public Library has received half of his extensive comedy LP, 45 RPM, 78 RPM, and CD records with the other half to be received after his death. Rev. Debenham, who was seeking a home for his collection, sent the materials to Boston in December 2007.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

The collection consists of comedian clippings, magazines, and movie ephemera, such as sheet music, posters, and lobby cards. The extensive collection of magazines includes Harpoon, Just for Laughs, and Rave. The broad arrangement of sheet music ranges from the early vaudeville years to the more recent 20th century movies.

System of arrangement

This collection is arranged in 3 series:
Series 1: Comedian Clippings
Series 2: Magazines
Series 3: Movie Stills

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

This collection is open to researchers.

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

Some materials may be subject to copyright. No part of the materials protected by copyright may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without written permission from the copyright holder. Researchers are required to seek permission from the copyright holder to reproduce and/or publish materials under copyright.

Languages of the material

  • English

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Related archival materials

Warren Debenham materials can also be located at the San Francisco Public Library Schmulowitz Collection of Wit and Humor.

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