University of Iowa Department of Theatre Arts Records
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Scope and Contents
The Records of the Department of Theatre Arts consist of eleven series: Scrapbooks, Playwrights Workshop Scripts, Index Card Files, Program-Picture Files, Theatre Building, Administrative, Play Programs, Audiovisual Materials, Student Organizations, Iowa Shakespeare Festival, and Iowa Community Theatre Association.
Series I: Scrapbooks. Arranged chronologically by year. Includes newspaper clippings, playbills, and programs. Each entry in the Box Contents List below represents one volume. Housed in oversized flat boxes. 42.0 ft.
Series II: Playwrights Workshop Scripts. Arranged alphabetically by name of author. Consists of three accruals received at the archives on separate occasions; authors may be represented in one or more of these accruals. 67.5 ft.
Series III: Index Card Files. The series consists of 11 sub-series. 9.0 ft. Productions by Author Experimental Theatre Productions by Author Masters Theses by Author Masters Theses by Topic Doctoral Candidates by Author Dissertations by Topic Productions by Director Productions by Designer Productions by Title (1920-2000) Productions by Date (1920-2000) Talent by Name (1930-1980
Series IV: Program-Picture Files. A majority of student productions from about 1921 to 2000 are represented, arranged alphabetically by name of production, including Summer Repertory Theatre. Files include programs, playbills, photographs of sets and actors, and other information pertaining to the specific production. 37.5 ft.
Series V: Theatre Building. Pertains to the development and management of the Theatre Building, constructed in 1936. 7.5 ft.
Series VI: Administrative. Includes Federal Theatre Project, faculty and staff minutes, correspondence. 9.0 ft.
Series VII: Play Programs. Arranged chronologically by year. Files include Mainstage publication, Iowa Shakespeare Festival, Iowa New Play Festival, Iowa Playwrights Festival, and Summer Rep. 3.0 ft.
Series VIII: Audiovisual Materials. 9.0 ft.
Series IX: Student Organizations. Includes Purple Mask, University Players, University Theatre Student Board of Governors, Out-of-Door Players, and National Collegiate Players Pi Epsilon Delta. 2.0 ft.
Series X: Iowa Shakespeare Festival. 1.0 ft.
Series XI: Iowa Community Theatre Association. Documents collaborative productions between the University and community-based companies. 0.25 ft.
- Creation: 1882 - 2000
- University of Iowa. Department of Theatre Arts (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
Courses pertaining to public performance - speaking, acting, interpretive reading, debate and other activities - may be traced to 1855, the first year of classes at the University of Iowa. According to H. Clay Harshbarger's paper, "Some Highlights of the Department of Speech and Dramatic Art," cited in Related Materials below, one of the nine departments of the University in 1855 was Intellectual Philosophy, "embracing Intellectual Philosophy, Logic, Rhetoric, Oratory, and Elements of Criticism.
By 1900, courses in "expression in voice and action," "literary interpretation" and the "function of imagination and dramatic instinct in expression" appeared in the University's general catalog. The arrival of Edward Charles Mabie in the summer of 1920 as a professor of speech was a significant turning point in the development of performance art at UI. Mabie was named head of the newly named Department of Speech and Dramatic Arts in 1925, a position he held for over 30 years, until his death in 1956.
During this period instruction in theatre arts at the University of Iowa expanded substantially, highlighted by the dedication of the Theatre Building in 1936, Mabie's leadership as a regional director of the Federal Theatre Project, and a considerable expansion of the department's curriculum.
At various times in its history the department's name has encompassed several disciplines: dramatic art, theatre arts, public speaking, and communication studies. The Harshbarger paper and other works cited below discuss in more detail the administrative history of the program, its relationship with other academic programs, and its numerous name changes through the years.
187.75 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
Method of Acquisition
These materials were transferred to the University Archives from the Department of Theatre Arts at various times. They include accessions coordinated by David Thayer, prof. emeritus, in 2003 and 2004.
- Language of description
- Script of description