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Katharine La Sheck papers

Identifier: IWA0057

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Scope and Contents

The Katharine La Sheck papers measure 7.5 linear inches and date from 1904 to 1971, the bulk of the contents date from LaSheck's childhood and early performing career as a singer with the College Girls (1911-1915) and The Marigold Quartet (1915-1920). Many photographs from this period enrich the collection. The papers are arranged in four series: Biographical information, Childhood and education, Professional career, and Photographs.

Biographical information consists of a photocopy of a biography of La Sheck by Sister Victorine Fenton, based on materials in this collection and on the Chautauqua Collection in the Special Collections Department of the University of Iowa Libraries; scattered correspondence, 1904-1967; a few newspaper and magazine clippings; and an obituary. The Childhood and Education series includes school records and poems, prose, and drawings.

The Professional career series contains programs from the College Girls and Marigold Quartet concerts; original theme music for the Marigolds; Chautauqua contracts; and many newspaper reviews of the concerts the quartets presented throughout the country. Completing the series are memorabilia from the Panama trips with the College Girls, scattered items from her career after the Marigold Quartet disbanded in 1920, and miscellaneous memorabilia.

The Photographs include portraits of La Sheck both as a young girl and a performer, and many snapshots of La Sheck and her friends from the 1910s and 1920s. Among the photographs are many images of Chautauqua performances.


  • Creation: 1904-1967


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research.

Biographical / Historical

Rachel Katharine Lasheck was born in Iowa City, Iowa on March 23, 1891, the youngest of three daughters of John and Mary Becker Lasheck. Known to her family as "Baby" and to her friends as "Rosy", she changed her name to Katharine La Sheck early in her professional singing career. Her sisters were Adelaide Lasheck Burge, who was Dean of Women at the University of Iowa from 1921 to 1942, and Ruth Lasheck Freyder. La Sheck attended elementary school in Iowa City and began high school there in 1904. Her family moved to Allegheny, Pennsylvania, when she was in ninth grade and later moved to Revere, Massachusetts, where she graduated from high school in 1909. La Sheck studied voice professionally and began her career soon thereafter, performing in recital and in ensemble with the Ideal Quartet, The College Girls (1911-1915), and the Marigold Quartet (1915-1920). The quartet members danced, acted, and played a variety of musical instruments. Booked by the Redpath Chautauqua, they performed widely on the Chautauqua circuit and were enthusiastically received. In 1913 and 1914 the College Girls travelled to Panama to entertain Americans working on the canal, and performed, too, on the cruise ships of the United Fruit Company Steamship Service. In 1917 La Sheck toured with the Murray Opera Company in the production of "Dorothy", a light opera. La Sheck also performed dramatic roles in theatrical presentations for the Redpath Chautauqua.

After The Marigold Quartet disbanded in 1920, La Sheck settled in Buffalo; during the time she lived there she performed with the New York Light Opera Singers, in oratorio groups, and as a soloist. From 1935 to 1943 she was an entertainer and hostess at the Broadcast Corporation of Buffalo. La Sheck returned to Iowa City periodically to visit family and to present recitals. In 1943, after her sister Adelaide Burge retired from the University, she moved there permanently and taught voice at The University of Iowa School of Music from 1944 to 1959. She died June 1, 1971.


7.50 linear inches

PHOTOGRAPHS: In box 2. boxes

Language of Materials



Musician, actress and dancer from Iowa City who toured on the Chautauqua circuit.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 111) were received in two accessions,the first from Mrs. Harrison J. Thornton ca. 1979, the second from Professor Frederick Crane in 1992.

Related Materials

Additional material about La Sheck is included in the Chautauqua Collection ,MsC 150, Boxes 134 and 151, Department of Special Collections, University of Iowa Libraries.

Natalie Brody, 1993.
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Repository Details

Part of the Iowa Women's Archives Repository

100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)