hiram college library logo

Hiram College Showboat "Majestic"
Business Collection
1948 - 1958


 Prepared by Lisa Johnson, November 2002
 1 record storage box, .75 cubic ft.

Historical Note

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 Accounts—1952-1956
            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.


▲  Return to Top