Redpath Chautauqua Bureau Records (this collection is currently under construction)
Scope and Contents
The Redpath Chautauqua Collection is comprised of approximately six hundred forty-eight linear feet of records primarily from the offices of the Redpath-Vawter Bureau of Cedar Rapids (Iowa), the Redpath-Chicago Bureau, and the Redpath-Kansas City (Missouri) Bureau. Other booking agencies are also represented in the collection, including the Associated Chautauquas of America, the Coit-Alber Chautauqua Company, the Ellison-White Chautauqua System, Loar International Chautauquas, and the Swarthmore Chautauqua Associations. Dating between 1890 and 1944 (bulk, 1904-1935), the collection is arranged into a number of series. Please see Arrangement note for further series-specific information.
- Redpath Chautauqua Bureau (Organization)
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.
Biographical / Historical
Circuit or "tent" Chautauqua had its beginning in the lyceum movement, which started in Massachusetts as early as 1826, and in the Chautauqua assemblies held at Lake Chautauqua, New York, beginning in 1874. The purpose of the lyceum movement was self-improvement through lectures and discussions on literary, scientific, and moral topics. After the Civil War, commercial lyceum bureaus were founded; among them was the Redpath Lyceum Bureau of James C. Redpath in 1868. In 1901, Keith Vawter purchased a one-third interest in the Redpath Lyceum Bureau and became the Redpath booking agent in Chicago, later moving his headquarters and operations to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In the summer of 1904, Vawter launched the first Chautauqua circuit with the assistance of Charles Horner.
The Redpath Lyceum Bureau had offices in other American cities, including White Plains, New York; Columbus, Ohio; Chicago; and Kansas City, Missouri. Vawter’s territory was roughly Iowa, Minnesota, the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Missouri. Another Iowan and former Vawter employee, Harry P. Harrison, ran the Chicago office. Under the name "Redpath-Chicago," Harrison launched a major Chautauqua circuit in 1912. His territory was Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, and the Gulf States. In 1912, Horner established in Kansas City the "Redpath-Horner Chautauquas." His territory was Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, and South Dakota. Circuit or tent Chautauqua began to expand and became an even greater influence about 1913, but World War I interrupted the circuits somewhat. In the years after the War (1920-1924), Chautauqua reached its peak of attendance. In 1920 there were twenty-one companies operating ninety-three circuits in the United States and Canada. The Great Depression brought an end to the circuits. The final circuit folded its tents in 1932 and the splendor of tent Chautauqua was over.
648.00 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
Commercial lecture bureau and booking agency for Chautauqua and lyceums throughout the United States and parts of Canada. Office files of the Redpath-Vawter Bureau of Cedar Rapids, IA, the Redpath-Chicago Bureau run by Harry P. Harrison and Charles Horner's Redpath Chautauquas. Included are: talent files consisting of correspondence, contracts, publicity brochures, and advertising flyers; business files including employee records; geographical location files with materials about cities and towns that sponsored Chautauquas and lyceums; periodicals; daybooks, cashbooks; and photographs.
Series 1 - Talent
The talent brochures and accompanying correspondence comprise the Talent Series. The following guidelines will assist in locating all of the information pertinent to an individual or a group. The use of "see" and "see also" references have been used to allow greater access. The "see" reference indicates that all the information will be found under that name, e.g., Marlo, Edward, see Marlo the Great means that all entries are under Marlo the Great. The "see also" reference indicates that information may be found under the name that is being searched, as well as under additional entries, e.g., Duval Brothers, see also Blaeser, Andrew means that information will be found under both Duval Brothers and Blaeser, Andrew.
In some instances, there are variations in the spelling of the names of groups or an individual on the brochures. When there are differences in the spellings, the authoritative form for the names is taken from the written correspondence.
Individual names of members of groups usually are not included. Exceptions are for duos and some trios in which all of the names of the group members are listed on the front of the brochure, or as part of the group's name, e.g., Smith-Springer-Holmes Company, or McCormick and Bronte. In both instances, each of the names is listed along with "see" or "see also" references. Often the name of a group would be used for a number of years, but the spelling would vary. When there are multiple spellings of the same name, e.g., Criterion Male Quartet and Criterion Male Quartette, the groups are listed separately.
Individuals or groups whose names are listed as "Mac" or "Mc" have been combined and appear in the "Mac" alphabetical listing. Vocational abbreviations, military rank, and marital status are designated when a reference is made within the correspondence or on the brochures. Examples include: Rev. (for ministers and priests of Protestant and Catholic denominations); Rabbi (for leaders of the Jewish faith); Dr. (for medical doctors only); Gen., Col., Pvt., etc. (for military rank); Mr., Miss, Mrs., Mlle. (for marital status when indicated).
The marriage of female talent often resulted in a name change; therefore, the name is listed under the respective designation. An example is Listeman, Virginia who later became Baxter, Virginia Listeman. "See" and "see also" references connect the two.
Theatrical plays and presentations are designated by quotation marks followed by the word Company, e.g., "Sweethearts" Company or "Hope Valley" Company, and are filed under the title of the production. Exceptions have been made for groups such as the Scottish Musical Company, the Manhattan Opera Company, or the Ben Greet Players, in which cases the brochures are filed under the name of the theater company or the group of players rather than the title of the production.
A compound surname is entered in the form that appears in the correspondence, e.g., Ernestine Schumann-Heink is entered under Schumann.
Series 2 - Photographs and Postcards
There are over seven hundred photographs and postcards in the Chautauqua Collection with subjects ranging from tents and parades to audiences and performers, cities, and other scenery. These images, along with talent brochures, programs, and sound recordings, have been digitzed and appear on the Iowa Digital Library site: digital.lib.uiowa.edu
In addition to those listed under "Identified People", talent names may also have personal or group photographs within their file.
Series 3 - Choral and Instrumental Sheet Music
Music performed by individuals and groups is found in sheet music format.
Series 4 - Agents and Employees
Agent and Employee records contain correspondence between the Chautauqua bureaus and people, usually other than talent, who worked for the bureaus.
Series 5 - Business Files
Business and financial records include Keith Vawter’s business records (1891 to 1931) and correspondence (1902 to 1936). The records from Harry Harrison’s Redpath-Chicago office, during the same period, contain business correspondence, contracts, telegrams, etc. Charles Horner’s correspondence from the early years of circuit Chautauqua is part of this series as are agent and employee files.
Series 6 - Geographic Locations
The Geographical location portion contains information about the towns which sponsored Chautauqua and lyceum programs. Arranged alphabetically, first by state and then by town, these folders include brochures, correspondence, and programs presented at that specific locale. Forty-seven states (excepting Alaska, Hawaii, and Wyoming) are represented; there are also folders for Canadian cities and towns.
Series 7 - Financial Records
Ledgers containing schedules of performances by talent chronicle who was appearing where.
Series 8 - Talent Schedules
Daily location logs for some of the performers.
Series 9 - Realia and Varied Material
Miscellaneous materials range from actual Chautauqua tickets to contracts, maps, books, etc.
Series 10 - Theses, Essays, and Articles
Theses and essays include papers written using the Redpath Chautauqua Collection.
Series 11 - Jounrals and Periodicals
Journals and periodicals in the collection include partial sets of a number of periodicals including: The Lyceumite (1902-1907); Talent, a Magazine of Public Speaking (1890-1907); The Lyceumite and Talent (1907-1913), a merger of Talent and Lyceumite; Lyceum Magazine (1913-1922), which continued The Lyceumite and Talent; and The Lyceum News (1911-1922). The magazine files of the International Lyceum Association are also a part of this series. Some of the sets include the International Lyceum and Chautauqua Association Yearbooks (1911-1924); Lyceum Magazine and Leadership (1928-1929) a further continuation of The Lyceumite and Talent; The Platform World (1929-1933), a continuation of Lyceum Magazine and Talent; and Program (1933-1944).
Series 12 - Contemporary Uses and Series 13 Related Collections
In 2022, these two series were removed from the finding aid and instead added as 'Related Materials' for the collection.
Oversized ledgers/cashbooks are now located in artifacts room:
There are oversized posters in Flatbox 25 that need to be added to the finding aid. These materials relate to Fred High.
Method of Acquisition
Gift of Harry P. Harrison, Harrison John Thornton, and others, 1940-1973.
- Blanchard, Ruth
- Blanchard, Thomas
- Harrison, Harry P., 1878-
- Horner, Charles F. (Charles Francis), 1878-1967
- MacLaren, Gay
- Redpath, James, 1833-1891
- Vawter, Keith, 1872-1937
- 20th century
- Archives (groupings)
- Balance sheets
- Business enterprises
- Clippings (information artifacts)
- Financial records
- Popular culture
- Redpath Lyceum Bureau
- Redpath Vawter Chautauquas
- Redpath-Horner Chautauquas
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Original HTML Finding Aid for the Records of the Redpath Chautauqua Collection. Please note that starting in 2023, this finding aid is no longer accurate concerning the physical arrangement of the materials, and therefore should only be used for research purposes. Box numbers have been changed since this finding aid was in use, therefore patrons should consult the box numbers found on this page when requesting materials.