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P. George Bird papers

Identifier: 010.PGB

Scope and Contents

The P. George Bird papers documents the work of emeritus faculty member Paul George Bird during his time at the Michigan State Normal College, Eastern Michigan College and Eastern Michigan University between 1955 and 2007 teaching in the Theatre Department.

The materials in the collection include a few materials from his undergraduate work at the University of Wisconsin, correspondence from the Eastern Michigan University Chapter of the American Association of University Professors, mostly related to Bird's unwillingness to join the AAUP Union.

Two awards and a needlepoint of the Peer Gynt production poster make up the series Awards and Gifts. The rest of the materials are arranged into two primary series Course Materials and Notes and Theater Productions. For the length of time that Bird spent teaching in the Theatre program there should be more materials in the Course Materials and Notes series, as it stands there are materials for the Greek Literature Lecture and History of the Theatre to 1642, Course number 406 and CTA 450.

The Theater Production series is where the real weight of the collection lies, with production and set photographs, original posters created and screen printed by his first wife in the basement of their home, prompt books from a few productions, programs that are arranged chronologically, and clippings from the earliest productions through the 1980s, and slides. The last folders of materials include posters collected by Bird as well as three transcripts of oral histories conducted in the spring of 2016, two with Professor Bird and the third with Professors George Bird and Reinhard Wittke. All three oral histories are available online.

The PDF version of the Finding Aid includes a listing of theatre productions that Bird was directly involved in.


  • Creation: 1950 - 2010
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1955 - 1980

Conditions Governing Access

Researchers are asked to request materials 24 hours prior to visiting the the University Archives.

Biographical Note

Paul George Bird was born December 31, 1927 in Ladysmith, Wisconsin to Paul Willard Bird and Dagny Christianson Bird. Bird grew up in the small tourist town of Green Lake, Wisconsin and enrolled in the University of Wisconsin in 1946 as an engineering major but soon found his way into the theater program. He earned extra money performing as a magician under the names of The Great George and Birdini the Magnificent. He was a percussionist in the University of Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Band, Marching Band, and ROTC Band. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in 1950 and his Masters in 1952, after which he embarked on his Ph.D.

Bird was hired to teach theatre at the Michigan State Normal College, now Eastern Michigan University, in 1955 and taught in the department for 52 years while also serving as the technical director of Quirk Theatre. In addition to his teaching responsibilities Bird also directed, and designed sets and lighting for hundreds of productions. In addition to his work with the department and theatre program, he was heavily involved in the design of both the Quirk and Sponberg Theaters. He retired from the faculty in 2007. His outside insterests included gardening and he was a founding member of the Huron Valley Rose Society.

When Bird died on May 6th, 2016 he was survived by his wife of 29 years, Laura Catharine Bird; his former wife, Jane Schmiedeke and their two children Paul Ramsay Bird and Anne Elizabeth; her husband Mark Michaels and their children Abigail and Katherine Michaels.


20 Linear Feet (1 record center carton, 5 slide boxes, 37 oversize files, and 2 objects)

Language of Materials



The P. George Bird papers is a selection of materials documenting the 52 year career of Paul George Bird as a member of the teaching faculty in the Communication, Media and Theatre Arts department at Eastern Michigan University. When Bird joined the faculty at the Michigan State Normal College in 1955 he joined the then Speech and Drama Department which oversaw the Theatre program performing at Roosevelt School. Bird assisted with the design of both Quirk and Sponberg theatres and directed and/or designed the sets and lighting for more than 100 productions. When Quirk Theater was built he became the technical director of the new theatre building. In the collection there are a few select items from his invovlement with the Wisconsin Players, having completed his undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Wisconsin Madison. Additionally, given his lengthy tenure at EMU, the records in the collection present limited documentation of Bird's role as an instructor; no documentation of service to the department, college, university; minimal documentation of his involvement with the Huron Valley Rose Society displayed only through the posters created for the Annual Rose Show; and the smallest selection of his role in theatre productions presented in the form of clippings, posters, programs, and prompt books.

Existence and Location of Copies

Transcripts and Audio Files of the Oral Histories with P. George Bird and Reinhard Wittke can be accessed through Digital Commons.

P. George Bird Oral History Interview, 2016 April 19:

P. George Bird Oral History Interview, 2016 April 22:

P. George Bird and Reinhard Wittke Oral History Interview, 2016 April 23:

Related Materials

Some of the posters in the P. George Bird papers are from productions directed and/or designed for the Drama/Theatre of the Young (DTFY) program, in the earliest years listed at the Eastern Michigan University Children's Theatre.

Materials related to the DTFY program can be found in the Drama/Theatre for the Young program records [05.DTFY] including additional posters, photographs, slides, and administrative files.

Additional materials related to the Theatre program can be found in the following collections:

the Eastern Michigan University Theatre records [04.TR]:

the Quirk Theatre and Sponberg Theatre records [015.QS]:


P. George Bird Papers
Alexis Braun Marks, CA
2017 September 25
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Eastern Michigan University Archives Repository

Bruce T. Halle Library, Room 310
955 West Circle Drive
Ypsilanti Michigan 48197