The Child Drama Collection began in 1979 with the gift of teaching and biographical materials from Rita Criste, professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. That same year the Children's Theatre Association of American (CTAA), the national theatre for youth association, designated ASU as the site for its archive.
Both collections were welcomed by Librarian Marilyn Wurzburger, Head of Special Collections, and by Lin Wright, Chair of the ASU Department of Theatre. They jointly recommended using these gifts to spearhead the development of a Child Drama Collection in response to the academic needs of theatre for youth students and faculty at ASU and the research needs of professional artists and educators throughout the world. ASU Libraries approved the establishment of this new collection in 1980, with the purpose of creating a unique and growing collection that contains representative materials from individuals, theatre companies and projects that have received awards from the national children's theatre association.
In the early 1980s the collection expanded with donations from playwrights and retiring professors and theatrical artists. In 1985, Katherine Krzys became the part-time Curator of the Child Drama Collection. Archival materials for the Secondary School Theatre Association and the American Alliance for Theatre & Education (AATE) were donated in the late 1980s, enabling researchers to document the continuous history of the national theatre for youth association, from its days as CTC in 1944.
The collection continues to grow exponentially. The focus has also expanded to encompass materials about international theatre for youth, as typified by the archive of Gerald Tyler, founder of ASSITEJ, and that of ASSITEJ/USA, the American Center of the international professional children's theatre association.
In 1994 the Children's Theatre Foundation of America awarded the Medallion of Honor to the Child Drama Collection for its significant achievement in the field. That year Krzys also became the full-time Curator.