Books in the News
Hiram College Showboat Collection
Hiram College Showboat "Majestic"
Prepared by Lisa Johnson, November 2002
The Showboat “Majestic” was built by Captain Tom Reynolds and operated on the Ohio River and its tributaries from 1923 until the 1965 Safety at Sea Act forced the permanent mooring of all wooden-hulled sea and river vessels.
In 1948, Hiram College students and staff joined students and staff from Kent State University in a summer of traveling the river and entertaining the residents of nearby communities with plays, old time vaudeville skits and calliope music. In 1949, Hiram faculty contracted individually with Captain Reynolds to continue the summer entertainment. During the next decade, with the exception of 1951, Hiram faculty and students continued to travel the river in the summer, bringing a uniquely American form of entertainment to the residents of both large and small communities along the rivers.
This collection joins a previously processed collection of scrapbooks compiled by the students and faculty who had taken part in the Showboat experience. It was donated to Hiram College by Dina Kellams, assistant archivist, at Indiana University in July of 2002. It was part of a much larger collection of papers donated to the Indiana University Archives in 1999 by their Department of Theatre and Drama. We can only speculate, but the papers may have been left on the “Majestic” after Hiram’s last voyage in 1958 and made their way to the theatre department after the Captain Reynolds sold the boat to Indiana University in 1959.
Additional information on the Showboat “Majestic” will be found in the Kent State University Archives and Special Collections. Consult their web site at http://speccoll.library.kent.edu/theater/hwright.html.
Scope and Content Note
The Showboat “Majestic” business records are arranged in one document storage box. The papers consist of correspondence documenting all aspects of the operations of a working showboat theater in the 1950’s. In addition, a large portion of the documentation reflects the Showboat “Majestic” staff’s advertising plan, public relations activities, personnel decisions, legal agreements and licensing requirements necessary to successfully operate a touring theatre company. In 1955, author Rosamond Du Jardin based her YA novel, Showboat Summer, on the experiences of the Hiram College students living and performing on the Ohio River. The letters written by Miss Du Jardin to arrange her visit to the Showboat in 1952 and 1953 are included.
Folder – Contents
Advance Agent Worksheets – 1955-1958
Advance Work and Advertising – Pittsburgh, PA, ca.1953
Advertising – McKeesport, PA
Advertising – Radio – 1951-1957
Advertising Copy and Press Releases, ca. 1953-1957
Air Pollution Violation – Kentucky, 1955
Attendance Figures – 1952
Contracts, Legal Agreements, Permits – 1948-1958
Correspondence – n.d.
Correspondence -- 1948
Correspondence -- 1949
Correspondence -- 1950
Correspondence -- 1951
Correspondence -- 1952
Correspondence – 1953
Correspondence – 1954
Correspondence – 1955
Correspondence – 1956
Correspondence – Carbon Originals – 1948-1952
Correspondence – Carbon Originals – 1953
Correspondence – Carbon Originals -- 1954
Correspondence – Ticket and Itinerary Requests – 1952
Correspondence – Ticket and Itinerary Requests -- 1953
Correspondence – Ticket and Itinerary Requests – 1954
Itinerary – n.d.
Mailing Lists – Cincinnati, ca. 1957
Mailing Lists – Newspapers, n.d.
Mailing Lists – Morgantown, W.V., 1954
Mailing Lists – Pittsburgh, PA, ca. 1952
Mailing Lists – Wheeling, W.V., 1954
Mailing Lists and Business Directories – Steubenville, OH, 1954-1955
Mailing Lists and Itinerary – 1949
Newspaper Imprints and Ticket Samples – 1950’s
Playscript- “Just For You” – July 13, 1950
Promotional Materials – 1950-1956
Repair Records and Generator Handbook – 1954
Speech 230 – Operating a Theater – 1950-1953
Supply Invoices, ca.1950-1955
Ticket Agent Instructions, n.d.
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