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Very few careers span a period of advancement that is as diverse as the career of Coleman A. Jennings.  In his 50 plus years of service at UT Austin, the field of Theatre for Young Audiences changed from a field that was largely made up of adaptations of fairy tales that were primarily presented by amateur performers to a respected subset of the theatre profession.  In the years Dr. Jennings spent in this profession, scripts became far more original and well developed and teaching creative drama became much richer and more respectful of the children in the classroom as well as in the audience.  


The only way to truely understand the depth and scale of his work is to view it from within the context of the development of the larger field as a whole.  It is when we view the longevity of his work through the lense of this greater history that the impact of his career can come into focus.  Therefore, here is the beginning of work we will be doing to create a historical timeline for the history of the field as well as for Dr. Jennings' career as a whole.


In the true spirit of Coleman A. Jennings' work, which has always been marked by great humility, one of the things that he has always been most proud of is the academic work of his students.  Therefore, a timeline of the thesis and dissertations in Theatre for Young Audiences that were completed under his direction is also included.

A timeline covering key milestones in Jennings' fifty-four year teaching career at The University of Texas at Austin.
Timelines of the history of children's theatre

The historical timelines included here are provided as a means to contextualize, in small part, the history of the field and Dr. Coleman A. Jennings’ work within it.  He was an extraordinarily generous educator, providing his students reams of resource material, not only about the field of theatre for young audiences, but in all aspects of the field of theatre and the performing arts.  Dr Jennings was a firm believer in preserving the history of the field and the work of those who came before us.  And the reams of information he continually collected and shared with his students reflect his desire to impress upon all of us the value of preservation.


The historical timelines are not meant to be exhaustive, but are based on material that Dr. Jennings provided to students that, in turn, had been inspired by Nellie McCaslin’s seminal Theatre for Children in the United States: A History.


The MFA and Dissertation timelines are a contextual representation of the work that came before Jennings’ arrival to The University of Texas at Austin, and for all of the Drama and Theatre for Youth & Communities (the program’s current moniker) inspired projects during his fifty-four year tenure.  The timeline ends in 2017, the year that Dr. Coleman A. Jennings ended his partial retirement ending his extraordinary contribution to the field as an educator. Any omissions or errors are the authors. Please send corrections to


The program continues under the vanguard of new leadership carrying on his impact and legacy, just as we are attempting to do with this website and through his collection at The Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin.


  • Rod Caspers, Judy Matetzschk-Campbell, J. Richard Smith

Children's theatre in the 1800s
Children's theatre 1900 to 1910
Children's theatre 1920 to 1930
Children's theatre 1930 to 1940
Children's theatre 1960 to 1970
Children's theatre 1940 to 1950
Children's theatre 1970 to 1980
Children's theatre 1950 to 1960
Children's theatre 1980 to 1990
Children's theatre 1990 to 2000
Children's theatre theses and dissertations
Theses & dissertations to 1969
Theses & dissertations 1990s
Theses & dissertations 1970s
Theses & dissertations 1980s
Theses & dissertations 2000s
Theses & dissertations 2010s
“Through my years in this profession, I have learned that even more satisfying than creating the stories myself, is teaching others to do it.”

Coleman A. Jennings

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