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MS Thr 585

Tent show collection, circa 1910-1916: Guide.

Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Harvard Depository
Call No.: MS Thr 585
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Title: Tent show collection,
Date(s): 1910-1916 and undated.
Quantity: 1 collection (.25 linear feet (1 box)
Language of materials: Collection materials are in English.
Abstract: Playbills, photographs, and programs for tent shows mostly in Dallas, Texas.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

No accession number. Primarily the sources are unknown. If source is known, see item for acquisition data.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt

Conditions Governing Access:

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.
This collection is not housed at the Houghton Library but is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.

Preferred Citation for Publication:

Tent Show Collection, circa 1910-1916 (MS Thr 585). Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Biographical / Historical

Tent shows, a form of traveling theater, were popular in the rural areas of the United States during the first half of the twentieth century, particularly in the Southwest, South, and Midwest. There were as many as four hundred tent companies touring when the practice peaked around 1920. Typically, these shows featured a three-act comedy or drama interspersed with "polite" vaudeville. Great emphasis was placed upon presenting inoffensive family entertainment; the master of ceremonies frequently boasted that "nothing would be seen or heard that might offend the taste of the most fastidious." Tent shows often offered a repertoire of from three to twelve plays. They reached their peak activity shortly before the Great Depression.


Arranged alphabetically by company.

Scope and Contents

Includes: photographs, playbills, and programs. Most of this material describes shows in Dallas, Texas. Includes the companies: Century Theatre (under canvass); Demorest Comedy Company; Denham Stock Company; Lightfoot Stock Company; and others.


This collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. See access restrictions below for additional information.

Container List