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University of Arizona

Performing Arts

Archival collections housed in Special Collections

Vaudeville-related Archival Collections

American Vaudeville Museum Collection 1850-2007 MS 421  This collection consists of materials documenting vaudeville and other entertainment in the United States, particularly in the 1910s through 1940s. Primary materials such as photographs, scrapbooks and handwritten stage scripts document the careers of particular performers. There are substantial numbers of sheet music and theatre programs, and a large LP collection. The collection focuses on vaudeville but encompasses other forms and eras of American entertainment as well.
Digital collection: American Vaudeville Museum Archive.

Arthur Frank Wertheim Papers, 1862-2005 MS 438  The bulk of the material consists of  photocopies of printed materials, primarily newspaper and journal articles, collected by Wertheim while researching the writing of his book, Vaudeville Wars. The collection contains information on many aspects of Vaudeville including; performers, theater and circuit owners and managers, theater and circuit management and organization, professional associations and unions, theater buildings, legal activities, and the history of vaudeville as an industry. Photographs contain images of people, organizations and places associated with vaudeville.

Film and Music of the Vaudeville Era MS 705  This collection is comprised of commercially recorded music and film, either in the form of compact discs, DVDs or VHS video tapes. The music recordings feature dance music from the "Roaring Twenties" for the most part, but also include later material up through the 1940s/50s. Some of the music consists of recordings of bands from the time period, and some of it has been preserved and recorded by contemporary "specialty orchestras" whose aim is to preserve the music of this particular era. The films are typically "pre-code era" features or shorts that include former vaudeville performers. A few are concert films of select jazz performers such as Artie Shaw and Tommy Dorsey. The collection includes 161 sound recordings (all CDs) and 85 films (7 VHS tapes, 78 being DVDs).

Goelet Family Collection, 1896-1971 MS 432  The bulk of the material is comprised of photographs of Vera Hall throughout her career as Baby Hall, as part of the vaudeville act Raymond and Hall and as part of the vaudeville act Goelet and Hall. Photos of her husband and partner John William Goelet and her partner Edward Raymond are also included. The collection also contains printed material including theater programs and announcements, sheet music, newsletters, newspaper clippings and a scrapbook; documents including obituaries and a family tree; an audio tape of Jane Grey’s memories; artifacts including pins and clothes fasteners; and slides from a retrospective called a Salute to Vaudeville and of the family’s travels to Japan.

Joseph E. Howard Papers, 1895-2009 MS 582  Joseph E. Howard (1878-1961) was a skilled composer and vaudevillian. Born in New York in 1878, he ran away from home around the age of seven after the death of his mother. He ended up in St. Louis, where he took to singing and performing on the streets to earn money. He received a break as a teenager when a vaudeville group invited him to travel with them. At the time of his death, Howard had been married nine different times. Many of his wives were fellow performers, including his first wife, Ida Emerson, who helped write and perform Howard’s most famous song, “Hello! My Baby.” Sometimes his marriages ended in divorce and other times in death. He had at least two sons, Joseph Jr. and Lionel, and one daughter, Josephine. This contains sheet music written by Howard, as well as correspondence and press documenting his long life as a vaudevillian and public performer. It includes his 1956 autobiography, Gay Nineties Troubadour , and photographs of Howard, his family, and other performers.

Kathryn Beals Papers 1927-1928, 1976, 1994 MS 440  Kathryn Beals was born on August 1907 and raised in San Francisco, California. Between 1927 and 1928 she spent 15 months touring the United States with the Peters-Wright vaudeville dance troupe The Wright Dancers. During this time she exchanged letters and photos with her mother, father, uncle, and sister, Carol. When she was not performing or rehearsing she visited tourist sites like the Niagara Falls, Coney Island, and Washington, D.C. In the collection there are photos of these trips. The collection includes some of the theater programs on which she appears for presentations in Boston, New York, and Houston, and includes correspondence, photos, newspaper clippings, and ephemera, including two letters to her sister from acquaintances upon Kathryn’s death in 1976. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence with her family and ephemera she collected while touring with the Peters-Wright vaudeville dance troupe for 15 months in 1927-1928.

Linda Diane Jackson Collection circa 1900-1990 MS 457  Photographs, negatives, contact sheets, slides, film reels, DVDs, VHS tapes, printed announcements, transcripts of interviews, circa 1900-1990 (bulk 1985-1987). This collection is comprised of the photographic, printed and audio-visual materials produced and collected by Linda Diane Jackson. The bulk of the material relates to documenting the private and stage lives of original vaudeville entertainers.

Odell Sneden Hathaway Theater Ledger Collection, 1910-1922 MS 514  Odell Sneden Hathaway was a governor of the International Theatrical Association as well as proprietor of several successful theaters located in the upper New York state and Upper Ohio regions. These theaters exhibited a myriad of entertainment forms to the public, including plays, burlesque shows, vaudeville acts, and motion pictures. This collection is comprised of seven ledgers from theaters owned by Odell Sneden Hathaway. Each ledger lists daily accounting totals which denote the name of the attraction, weather conditions, gross receipt totals, costs, payments, and accompanying notes.

Rusty Williams Papers, circa 1910-1950 MS 547  Rusty Williams was a comedian who worked in the vaudeville circuit for 38 years, from the 1910’s to 1950. In that time, he worked in tent shows, traveling shows and on some of the major vaudeville stages of his day, doing comedy routines, singing and performing both in whiteface and blackface and as a clown. The bulk of the material in this collection is comprised of two types of materials: photographs of Rusty Williams and the people he worked with in Vaudeville, and handstitched scripts that are either typewritten or handwritten. The collection also contains a small number of newspaper clippings, handbills and theater programs.

Sadie M. Fearen and A. Harry Chick Vaudeville Collection, 1882-1933 MS 489 Sadie M. Fearen and A. Harry Chick, were vaudeville performers and managers of the Sadie M. Fearen Repertoire Company in the New England area during the early 1900s. As performers, they were known for their singing, talking, and dancing comedy act. Sadie was also known as the “La Petite Sadie M. Fearen.  The bulk of this collection includes theatre programs, cabinet card photographs of primarily east coast performers, White Rat Actors Union materials, newspaper clippings, and scrapbooks.

Scrapbooks of Loring Campbell, 1924-1960 MS 233  Loring Campbell was an American magician, ventriloquist, and humorist on the Chautauqua and lyceum circuits. He began his career in 1920 in a minstrel show as "Cambello the Clown Magician" and also performed a Chinese act before finding vaudeville success with his trademark suave stage persona as "The Great Alexander" and later, simply Loring Campbell. He performed in an estimated 1,500 shows before retiring in 1955. Fourteen scrapbooks contain newspaper clippings, brochures, programs, posters, correspondence, and memorabilia from 1924-1960. The material regards Loring Campbell's public appearances in the southern and mid-western United States.