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Little Art Theatre of Yellow Springs Collection

Identifier: MS-511

Scope and Contents

The collection is arranged by format and chronologically thereunder. Included are program guides, brochures, posters, and artwork detailing the movies shown at the theatre. Also included are promotional materials, including numerous photos sent to the theatre from film distributors and studios. Researchers interested in small, independent movie houses would find this collection useful, as the array of films shown over the years is diverse and reflects a broad spectrum of the cinema art.


  • Creation: 1945-2008


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on access to this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

No one shall reproduce any of the six original pieces of art, known as the house light art, without written permission from the President of the board of the Little Art Theatre Association or its successor organization.

Historical Note

The Little Art Theatre is among the most recognizable and beloved landmarks in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Well known for its commitment to diverse programming that includes first-run independent and foreign films, documentaries, cinema classics and special film events, the Little Art is part of the social fabric of the Yellow Springs community and the Miami Valley area. Established in 1929, it later became one of a network of small theatres that screened mainly foreign and independent films. It continues this legacy in 2016, and has added first-run features to its offerings. The Little Art became a nonprofit organization in 2009, and completed its first major renovation in 2013 bringing the theater into the digital age, while retaining its iconic houselights and beloved marquee. As “the best place to watch a movie, together” the Little Art Theatre provides experiences that entertain, inform, and inspire in an intimate hometown, single screen setting that cannot be replicated at the multiplexes. Additionally, the Little Art hosts community events, including a New Year’s Eve celebration and an annual thank you party for friends and partners of the Little Art. Other community collaborations include hosting area filmmaker’s or student film premieres and partnering with local nonprofits such as the Green Environmental Coalition, Tecumseh Land Trust, NAMI-YS, and WYSO to bring important documentaries to the screen. Its reach extends to the greater Miami Valley, including hosting screenings for the annual Dayton Jewish Film Festival and Wright State University Big Lens Film Festival.

In 1929, Dick and Mary Denison founded what was first called “The Little Theatre.” The theatre was integrated peacefully in 1942 when students from Antioch and nearby Wilberforce University staged a sit-in, which was planned with the help of Antioch faculty Jessie Treichler, Thomas Dowdell, and Herman Schnurer. The signature art deco murals mounted over the house lights in the mid 1940s were created by Antioch student Elizabeth Morss Graff. The theatre was purchased by the Art Theatre Guild of Scottsdale, Arizona, and became the Little Art Theatre in 1955. Ellen and Rod Hoover purchased the building in 1990. From 1987-1990 the Little Art was owned by Antioch College under the leadership of then college president Alan Guskin. From 1990 to 1997, the business was owned by Antioch College professor Jon Saari. After managing the Little Art for twenty years, Jenny Cowperthwaite purchased the business in 1998, and now serves as Executive Director. October 2009 marked a new era for the theatre, organizing as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation. In 2012 the Little Art Theatre Association launched a successful major capital campaign to upgrade and entirely remodel the theatre, adding digital projection and sound, full accessibility, new seats, improved sight lines, and a contemporary “industrial chic” lobby with an expanded concession stand.


6 linear feet

Language of Materials



The collection contains program guides, brochures, posters, and artwork detailing movies shown at the Little Art Theatre of Yellow Springs, Ohio over more than fifty years. Also included are numerous promotional photos sent to the theatre from film distributors and studios. The Little Art Theatre was one of a network of small theatres that screened mainly foreign and independent films.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Little Art Theatre of Yellow Springs Collection was donated to Wright State University Special Collections and Archives by the originating organization (Little Art Theatre) in July of 2014.


No further accruals are expected.

Separated Materials

Original oversized artwork is on top of the collection cabinets in Rm. 416, Posters are housed in Location 90, File 2.

Processing Information

Note that the program guide calendar fluctuated throughout the years, often running from December to November of the following year. The promotional photographs are in alphabetical order, by film.

Guide to the Little Art Theatre of Yellow Springs Collection (MS-511)
Jocelyn Robinson
2016 April
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Wright State University Libraries
Special Collections and Archives
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton OH 45435-0001 USA