Audio Materials Our collection includes 50 sound cassettes, mostly of interviews with troupers. Caroline and Neil appeared in radio in the 1930s and the Museum has recordings of their programs produced by WMT in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Advertisements Over 2000 advertising pieces, including newspaper ads, brochures, posters, heralds and handbills are available for study. Even more can be found pasted in the many scrapbooks in the Museum collection.
Articles, Books, and Dissertations A number of articles and books written on this era are available for research and some of the books may be purchased. Many of the books are now out of print. Copies of some dissertations on the subject are located in the library.
Biographical Data Personal files, letters, books, surveys, and award forms provide information on the lives of a number of the troupers who worked for tent and stock companies.
Clippings Over 2000 clippings detailing troupers’ lives and performances and reviews of performances are available for examination. Many of the hundred scrapbooks are also crammed full of clippings; not all of their information has yet been entered into the database.
Film/Videos/DVD The bulk of this collection documents presentations by troupers and scholars during the annual Theatre Seminars, which started taking place in 1986. Each year more presentations are added. Over 48 of the other DVDs are copies of video-taped interviews with troupers and owners of shows. (This work began in the 1980s as these special people visited the Museum.) The remaining videos have been sent to the Museum and cover performances by other groups doing rep material. Very few movies or television productions were taken of actual performances during its heyday. The Museum has some rare footage shot in the 1950s and 1960s.
Interviews The collection includes transcripts of personal interviews with troupers and owners of tent and rep companies.
Letters Over 600 letters are included among the personal papers of owners and performers dealing with both their professional and daily lives.
Lists One of the major lists delineates the names of tent, stock, and rep companies who appeared in each state. The Museum also maintains a list of performers who appeared professionally as the “Toby” character. Work is also being done to develop a list of performers whose very early theatre experience began on a tent rep company.
Memorabilia All types of artifacts are included in this category such as: tickets, calling cards, Christmas cards, drawings, business records, route books, scenery, props, makeup and costumes.
Music Since music played an important part in the daily performances with the before and after concerts and as part of the specialty acts, the Museum has in its collections both sheet music and band arrangements that have been donated by former troupers and their families. Concentration is on pieces that probably were used on the shows of the traveling companies. Work has begun to categorize and catalog the music contained in eight legal-sized file drawers.
Obituaries Obituaries of over 300 owners, performers, and backstage workers are detailed in the database.
Photography Over 2000 prints and/or copies of prints, mostly in black and white, are located within the various vertical, flat, and boxed files and scrapbooks.
Posters Approximate 200 posters are represented in this collection. Some of the posters advertise the fact that a company was coming to town; others tout a particular play. These are contained in thirty flat, map-sized drawers or are framed and displayed in the Library and Exhibit areas.
Postcards of Opera Houses and Theatres Over 2000 postcards and copies of postcards depicting “opera houses” and early theatres all over the country are housed in separate boxes. These show buildings as they appeared probably in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Programs This collection contains over 800 programs of performances that took place in the opera houses and theatres. (Tent show owners rarely provided programs.)
Scripts One of the major collections in the Schaffner Library is its copies of over 2000 different scripts performed by the tent and stock companies in their heyday. Often there are different versions of a play; copies may also contain notes written by some of the directors of a certain play. One section of this collection contains bits (short theatrical routines) and sketches.
Scrapbooks Thirty-eight acid-free boxes contain scrapbooks of individual performers—a box may have between one and six scrapbooks in it. Work to enter the information on the scrapbook pages has been started.
Seminar Papers Hard copy of some seminar presentations with additional source material are available.
Serials The Museum collection contains partial sets of Opera House Reporter, Bruno’s Bulletin, The Bulletin by Bob Feagin, and Billboard.