Collection MSS 005 - Norman Lear Script Collection

Identity elements

Reference code


Name and location of repository

Level of description



Norman Lear Script Collection


  • Bulk (1977-1978) (Creation)
  • Span (1972-1978) (Creation)


5.75 linear feet

Name of creator


Biographical history

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

This collection features scripts from eleven different Television Programs, most of which are affiliated with one or both of Norman Lear's production companies, Tandem and T.A.T.. The bulk of the collection contains scripts from the show Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, which aired between January 1976 and May 1977. All of the programs feature what can be considered the signature of Norman Lear's productions: situational comedies that deal with topical and sometimes controversial subject matter. Many of Lear's shows became so popular, they added spin-off series which became popular in their own right. Maude and The Jeffersons were spin-offs of Lear's most popular show All in the Family. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman became Forever Fernwood when star Louise Lasser left the program, and a spin-off Fernwood 2-Nite, a talk show parody set in the same fictional town of Fernwood, Ohio. After one season, Fernwood 2-Nite became America 2-Night which reset the show outside of the fictional setting and freed the writers from having to include contrived explanations for celebrity appearances.

Some scripts, particularly in the Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman series contain more than one entry for the same episode number. Multiple scripts with the same episode number are not duplicates and therefore one is notated as being an alternate by the addition of a letter “A”. This notation is a holdover from the original receipt of the collection. Some scripts contain notes and additional lines from an unknown contributor.

System of arrangement

This collection is arranged into 11 series, and is arranged alphabetically by show title, and arranged by episode or script number within each title.
Series 1: Alice
Series 2: America 2-Night
Series 3: Barney Miller
Series 4: Diff'rent Strokes
Series 5: Fay
Series 6: Happy Days
Series 7: The Jeffersons
Series 8: Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
Series 9: Maude
Series 10: Prime Time
Series 11: T.G.I.F.

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

This collection is open to researchers.

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

No portions of these scripts may be performed or reproduced by any means, or quoted or published in any medium without prior written consent of their respective production companies. These are non-circulating materials.

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

The scripts in this collection were donated anonymously to Emerson College in 1982 and were received by the Library's cataloging department, since there was no Archivist on staff at the time. On October 27, 1982 these scripts were approved by instructors Denis Leary and Michael McDonald and placed on reserve for student use. The collection is now located in Special Collections within the Emerson College Archives.


Related materials elements

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related archival materials

Related descriptions

Notes element

Specialized notes

Alternative identifier(s)

Description control element

Rules or conventions

Sources used

Access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Accession area