The archive of the television show Mad Men is open for research at the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin. Researchers will have access to the creation and production history of the series’ 92 hourlong episodes.
Acquired in January 2017, the archive documents the work of creator Matthew Weiner and his writing and production team behind the scenes of the acclaimed drama.
“ Mad Men is a groundbreaking program, noteworthy for the high quality of its writing, acting and design, as well as for the insightful depiction of American culture through the lens of the past,” said Steve Wilson, the Ransom Center’s curator of film. “Through the Mad Men holdings, students and scholars will gain new insights into the creative decisions that shaped the series and a greater understanding of the evolution of motion pictures.”
Classes in the departments of journalism, English, undergraduate studies and advertising have already used the collection to study popular culture, nostalgia, advertising and the press.
“Studying the Mad Men archive with my Advertising and Popular Culture class was a meaningful and transformational experience,” said Galit Marmor-Lavie, a lecturer of communication at UT Austin. “The archive enabled my students to make a strong connection between theory and practice.”
The collection encompasses scripts, outlines, notes, correspondence, memos, casting materials, costume sketches, costume inspiration boards and lookbooks, call sheets, shooting schedules, clearance reports, photographs, set plans, storyboards, clippings, maps, schedules, promotional materials, invitations, awards, proof pages, props and costumes.
Digital files acquired with the archive include administrative, art department and casting files, behind-the-scenes production photographs, and photographs and inventories of props.
Scripts, production materials and publicity materials date from 2001 to 2016. Clippings, magazines and other materials collected for research primarily date from the late 1950s to the early 1970s. Also present in the collection are four boxes of scripts and production materials from Weiner’s 2013 feature film Are You Here. Weiner donated a collection of manuscript materials and a small selection of props; the show’s production company, Lionsgate Entertainment, donated a separate collection of costumes and props.
The series archive is rich in information about the work of actors, designers, writers, producers and creative direction, which aligns with the strengths of the Ransom Center’s film holdings. The archive complements the film collection at the Ransom Center, including its collections of David O. Selznick, Gloria Swanson and Robert De Niro.