The Doris Lewis Rare Book Room houses a sizeable special collection of rare materials related to the history of dance and ballet. The nucleus of the dance collection is the 150 items donated in 1975 by Dr. Henry Crapo, a former University of Waterloo faculty member. Dr. Crapo has continued to support the collection over the years.
Dr. Crapo's donation contains some rare and beautiful works on ballet: works by Negri, Caroso, Noverre, De la Cuisse, Arena, Dumanoir, Blasis and Bakst. The subject strengths of the collection reflect Dr. Crapo's interests in choreography and dance notation.
Of the seventeenth-century materials found here, some of the finest are Negri's Nuove inventioni de balli (Milan: 1604); Caroso's Nobilita di Dame (Venice: 1605), and Du Manoir's Le mariage de la musique avec la dance (1664).
The largest addition to the dance collection was the 300-volume collection acquired with the assistance of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant in 1982. This collection, with imprints ranging in date from 1687 to the mid-twentieth century, adds a new research dimension in the form of illustrated works containing lithographs and engravings of the period of the Romantic ballet. The provenance of the majority of works in this collection--a portion of the personal library of George Chaffee--a leading dance writer of the twentieth century, accounts in part for its strength. Many of the books Chaffee consulted in his research for his most famous writings on ballet are now a part of the Waterloo collections.
In 1985, another grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council made it possible for the Library to purchase over two dozen books supportive of the Crapo Collection.
Special Collections & Archives has prepared a digital exhibit featuring some of the items from the Henry H. Crapo Dance Collection.