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Marion Ballou Fisk Papers

Identifier: msc0150.09

Scope and Contents

Charles Leon Fisk trained as a minister. While a student, during summers, he performed with the Hesperian Quartet on the Redpath Chautauqua circuit. A few years later, when he became ill and his recovery period was uncertain, his wife, Marion Ballou Fisk, polished her drawing and public speaking skills and developed a career as "Cartoonist - Lecturer - Entertainer," offering lecture programs such as "Americans in the Making," "American Beauties," "New England Folks," and "Cap'n Tommy," an illustrated sermon. She was an active tour performer from 1908 until 1926.

The present collection, presented by her grandson Walter Fisk Giersbach, offers paricularly rich insights into the work of a Chautauqua performer. Mrs. Fisk's letters to her family are full of detail, and the records include photographs, promotional brochures, notes from which she developed some of her lectures, a published article and pamphlet, and programs. Making use of transcriptions begun in the 1970s by his mother (who also performed briefly on the circuits), Mr. Giersbach transcribed much of the material in the collection, and it has thus been possible to link the full content, in digital format, of many items to this page. The original artifacts, of course, reside only in the Libraries.

Ballou Fisk was a performer on the Chautauqua circuits, 1906-1926.


  • 1906-1930


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.


0.50 Linear Feet

Photographs in Boxes 1 and 2. other_unmapped

Language of Materials



About 1909, Marion Ballou Fisk polished her drawing and public speaking skills and developed a career as Cartoonist-Lecturer-Entertainer on the Chautauqua circuits. She continued to appear through the 1926 season, becoming a popular and sought after performer. This collection includes her letters to her family, photographs and promotional materials, and a group of her original pastel drawings. The collection also includes a few items related to her husband, Charles Leon Fisk (1868-1933), who was also briefly on the circuits as a member of the Hesperian Quartet.

Method of Acquisition

The Fisk Papers were the gift of Walter Fisk Giersbach, grandson of Marion Ballou and Charles Leon Fisk, in 2003.

Related Materials

Eight thousand promotional brochures for Chautauqua performers are digitized and searchable at Traveling Culture: Circuit Chautauqua in the Twentieth Century. "Traveling Culture" includes two Marion Ballou Fisk Brochures not present in this collection.

Sid Huttner
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)