G. Harry Wright Showboat collection

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Special Collections and Archives

G. Harry Wright Showboat collection

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The Special Collections & Archives reading room is closed, and all in-person (physical, face-to-face) services are suspended at this time. We are here to help! Please contact us to discuss how we can best serve you during this time.

Special Collections and Archives

G. Harry Wright Showboat collection

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G. Harry Wright Showboat collection

Finding Aid

Prepared by Thomas Scheuerman; March 3, 1999; Updated December 2016; Last Updated: July 2020

Inclusive Dates: 1948-1969
Extent: 6 cubic feet (12 document cases)
Physical Location: 11th Floor

Historical Note: Professor G. Harry Wright (1901-1964) of the School of Speech at Kent State University grew up in the small village of Guyandotte, West Virginia, on the banks of the Ohio River. It was there in the first decade of the twentieth century he developed his fascination with showboats. In 1946 he began to research the history of showboats for a proposed book. In 1948 he discovered an old showboat, The Majestic, still on the river. Upon receiving approval from Professor E. Turner Stump, Head of the School of Speech, and Dr. George Bowman, President of the University, he negotiated with Captain T.J. Reynolds, the owner of the boat, to lease it as a summer theater for Kent State University students. It was a successful venture, touring the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers for an entire season. This collection represents the history of that experience as well as a lifetime endeavor by an individual whose passion led him to taking the responsibility of preserving the memories of showboats. 

Scope and Content: Eleven legal sized document boxes plus one hinge lidded wooden box (6"x8"x12") containing scrapbooks, photographs, manuscripts, newspaper cuttings, playbills, correspondances, note cards, etc., pertaining to the history of showboats, particularly on the Ohio River and its tributaries in the first half of the twentieth century. This collection also includes brief personal correspondance from Edna Ferber. Collection also includes slides, negatives, and audio tapes.


Box 1: Scrapbooks
Box 2: Photographs
Box 3: Showboat Odyssey Manuscripts
Box 4: Reed, Duane E. : History of Showboats Manuscript
Box 5: Bryant,Billy; Showboat Show Manuscripts
Box 6: Files by Name
Box 7: Account Books; Cash Books; Documents; etc.
Box 8: Names A-F
Box 9: Names G-N
Box 10: Names O-Z
Box 11: Miscellaneous
Box 12: Note Cards

Related Materials: A thesis by Kent State University student Robert J. MacDonald, titled The 1948 Kent State University Showboat: The Record of an Experiment, is cataloged in KentLINK. The thesis includes descriptions of daily life on the showboat, the itinerary of the trip, receipts, photographs, and maps.

Box 1: Scrapbooks
Folder -- Contents

  1. Scrapbook 1: Boats
  2. Scrapbook 2: Interiors and productions
  3. Scrapbook 3: People

Box 2: Photographs
Folder -- Contents

  1. 4 slide boxes containing 95 slides
  2. photographs: miscellaneous
  3. photographs: people
  4. photographs: interiors and productions
  5. photographs: boats
  6. photographs: negatives

Box 3: Showboat Odyssey Manuscripts
Folder -- Contents

  1. Bibliography
  2. Showboat Odyssey No.1
  3. Showboat Odyssey No.2
  4. Showboat Theatre - Heyday and Decline
  5. Showboat Theatre's Second Pioneer
  6. Showboat Theatre in 1948
  7. Showboat Theatre at Its Best
  8. The Showboat is Born
  9. Showboat Entertainment Becomes of Age
  10. On A.B. French
  11. On the Majestic
  12. Showboat Odyssey carbon
  13. Showboat Odyssey carbon (part)

Box 4: Reed, Duane E. : History of Showboats Manuscript
Folder -- Contents

  1. History of Showboats... vol.1
  2. History of Showboats... vol.2
  3. History of Showboats... vol.3

Box 5: Bryant, Billy: Showboat Show Manuscripts
Folder -- Contents

  1. Circus Girl
  2. Convict 999
  3. Jesse James
  4. Lena Rivers
  5. Little Nell of the Ozarks
  6. Mother
  7. Raining and Rising
  8. Tempest and Sunshine
  9. Way Down East

Box 6: Files by Name
Folder -- Contents

  1. Bryant's Showboat
  2. American Floating Theatre - Price's Columbia - Hollywood Showboat
  3. Cotton Blossom (original)
  4. Eisenbarth-Henderson Showboat (original)
  5. Enterprise (Hughes Floating Enterprise)
  6. Goldenrod (originally W.R. Markle's New Showboat)
  7. Lennox Floating Theatre
  8. Lightnor's Floating Palace - New Era
  9. Majestic
  10. New Grand Floating Palace - Greater New York
  11. New Sensation (original)
  12. New Sensation (5th & last)
  13. New Sensation #2 (originally the 4th Floating Palace)
  14. Price's Floating Opera
  15. Princess
  16. Rivermaid (Captain Hi's Rivermaid)
  17. Sunny South - Hippodrome
  18. Water Queen
  19. Wonderland

Box 7: Account Books; Cash Books; Documents
Folder -- Contents

  1. Account Book 1913-1916
  2. Account Book 1907-1910 J.W. Cooley
  3. Showboat Cash Book 1922
  4. Showboat Cash Book 1915
  5. Showboat Ads, Programs, etc. (original)
  6. Showboat Cash Books 1892-1893 French's New Sensation
  7. Showboat Log, A.B. French, 1886-1889
  8. Showboat Payroll, A.B. French, 1890-1894
  9. Showboat Ads, Documents, Programs, etc. (copied)

Box 8: Names A-F
Folder -- Contents

  1. Adams, Carl B.
  2. Deacon Albright
  3. Allen, Sidney J.
  4. Autry, Gene
  5. Badon, Robert
  6. Bailey, Frank
  7. Banks, Herbert E.
  8. Barkwill, O.C.
  9. Bates, Ida
  10. Beadling, E.V.
  11. Beardstown Public Library, Beardstown, Illinois
  12. Boardman, Gail
  13. Bowman, George A.
  14. Breidenbach, Mrs. C.F.
  15. Brentano's
  16. Brown, Freeman
  17. Bruce, Robert
  18. Bryan, Frank A.
  19. Bryant, Capt. Billy; Point Pleasent, W.Va. (present address)
  20. Bundy, Geo. M.
  21. Burns, Charles Wilson
  22. Burns, Robert B.
  23. Campbell, A.B.
  24. Carpenter, H.A.
  25. Cheyenne, Wyoming, Chamber of Commerce
  26. Cincinnati, University of, Library
  27. Clay, Russell
  28. Cleveland Public Library: A Program on the Musical "Mississippi"
  29. Cleveland Public Library: Fine Arts Departments
  30. Colbert, Jo Ann
  31. Coleman, R.E.
  32. Collett, Charles L.
  33. Commerce, Missouri: To the Postmaster
  34. Connolly, Lyle F.
  35. Cook, Helen
  36. Cooley, J.W.
  37. Cooper, Norman A.
  38. Costello, Kate
  39. Crowther, Clifford T.
  40. Cutnaw, Edith
  41. Dater, Henry M.
  42. Dakin, Burt R.
  43. Day, Ella
  44. Dixon, Margaret
  45. Dolan, Walter
  46. Dollar, Sylvester
  47. Drake, Katherine
  48. Dunleavay, Charles A.
  49. Eisenbarth, Capt. Ellsworth E.
  50. Emerson, Capt. Ralph W.
  51. Evans, Merrell
  52. Ewbank, Henry L.
  53. Ferber, Edna
  54. Filson Club, (The)
  55. Fischer, H.P.
  56. Ford, Captain Charles
  57. Ford, George D.
  58. Freedley, Dr. George
  59. French, A.B. and Callie

Box 9: Names G-N
Folder -- Contents

  1. Gamble, J. Mack
  2. Gard, Robert E.
  3. Gebaver, Emanuel L.
  4. Gianelloni, E.D.
  5. Graham, Phillip
  6. Grand Tower, Illinois: To the Postmaster
  7. Green, George S.
  8. Griffith, Frank T.
  9. Gross, Sarah Chokla
  10. Guess, Genevia L.
  11. Guggenheim Foundation
  12. Gustman, James R.
  13. Hagans, James
  14. Haley, Wayne
  15. Hall, Virginia S.
  16. Hanesworth, Robert D.
  17. Hanley, Norman
  18. Habert, Edith E.
  19. Hardin, Illinois: To the Postmaster
  20. Hastings, Bernard
  21. High, Harry
  22. Hitner, D. Otto
  23. Hodgson, Alfred
  24. Howard, James E.
  25. Hornstein, Charles L.
  26. Howard, Nina
  27. Hughes, Capt. Jessie P.
  28. Hunter, Charles and Beulah
  29. Lacon Home Journal, The
  30. Lambert, F. B.
  31. Ledbetter, Charles
  32. Leverton, Garrett
  33. Lochhead, John L.
  34. Lodder, Andrew J.
  35. Lord, Clifford L.
  36. Lousiana State University
  37. Marietta College Library
  38. Markle, W. R.
  39. Martin, Pete
  40. Mason, Frank
  41. Mauer, Capt. Edward
  42. Maynard, Wade H.
  43. McCurdy, Mrs. T.C.
  44. McNair, J.E. and family
  45. McNair, Mrs. Wiley P.
  46. Meek, Felix
  47. Menke, Capt. J.W.(Bill) & brothers: Ben F., Harry J., & Charles F.
  48. Merchants Bank, The: Point Pleasant, West Virginia
  49. Meredosia, Illinois: To the Postmaster
  50. Mitchell, Ronald
  51. Morris, Pearl E.
  52. Muncie, Indiana: To the Chamber of Commerce
  53. Murphy, Horace
  54. Nedwick's Book Store; Chicago, Illinois
  55. Nicholson, John B.

Box 10: Names O-Z
Folder -- Contents

  1. Orr, Mrs. Barrett
  2. Orr, Nelle
  3. Pargellis, Stanley
  4. Parkersburg Dock Company, The: Parkersburg, West Virginia
  5. Pearl, Illinois: To the Postmaster
  6. Pekin, Illinois: Pekin Public Library, The
  7. Pell, Mrs. Walter Scott
  8. Pemberton, Margerie
  9. Potter, Bert
  10. Preble, Harry
  11. Price, Capt. E.A.
  12. Reynolds, Capt. T.J.
  13. Robinson, Capt. Richard
  14. Roth, Herb
  15. Rose, Sarah E.
  16. Rutter, J.W.
  17. Rutter, Joe
  18. Seabrook, Earl
  19. Shanower, Don
  20. Short, Joseph W.
  21. Sillito, Raymond
  22. Slover, Gus L.
  23. Snyder, Evelyn J.
  24. Sons and Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen, Sept. 13,1947
  25. Star News, The; Sisterville, West Virginia
  26. Steamboat Photo Company, The
  27. Steiner, Colonel H.E.
  28. Stevens, Dr. David H.
  29. Strauss, Harold
  30. Sullivan, Anna E.
  31. Suter, Harry
  32. Swope, Albert
  33. Tessier, Jack
  34. Thibideaux, Louisiana: Chamber of Commerce
  35. Thompson, Nellie
  36. Tulane, University Library
  37. Varnado, Alban F.
  38. Walraven, Carl
  39. Ward, Robert E.
  40. Warren, Ed
  41. Weaver, A.T.
  42. Weirz, Mrs. Frank
  43. Welden, R.H.
  44. Williams, C.B.
  45. Wisconsin, University of: Photographic Laboratory
  46. Wright, Capt. Donald T.
  47. Wright, Francis L.
  48. Young, Roger A., Jr.
  49. _____, Irwin to Mack ____
  50. _____, H. Carl

Box 11: Miscellaneous
Folder -- Contents

  1. Autograph Album
  2. Clippings
  3. Cities,towns, & tributaries of the Ohio River in order from Pittsburgh to Cairo
  4. News story: "Adams Cast in Rehearsal."
  5. News story from Broadside
  6. News story: "Chesapeake Town's Show Boat Inspired Dramatic Tale"
  7. News story: "Floating Theatre's Melodrama Still Get's 'Em"
  8. News story: "A Last Survivor of a Once Mighty Fleet"
  9. News report, Marietta Journal
  10. News story, Marietta Register-Leader
  11. News story: "Michigan Man Has Floating Theatre"
  12. News report, Showboat on Mississippi
  13. News story: "Real-life Showboat Captain"
  14. News story: "Real Showboat"
  15. News story: "Safe After Ploughing Up Harbor Bottom"
  16. News story: "Showboat"
  17. News story: "Showboat Again on Chesapeake"
  18. News story: "Showboat Famed in Novel, and Its Sponsers"
  19. News story: "The Showboat Ties Up"
  20. News story: "Showboat's Comin'"
  21. News story: "Tied Up for the Winter"
  22. News story: "Vivian Shirley Hears Tales of Exciting Showboat Life"
  23. News story: "Floating Theatre, Edna Ferber's Inspiration..."
  24. Vaudville Acts
  25. Notes

Box 12: Note Cards
Folder -- Contents

  1. 431 index cards arranged alphabetically by showboat name
  2. 47 miscellaneous index cards; handwritten notes, and memorabilia
  3. 12 index cards arranged alphabetically by publication name
  4. 29 index cards arranged alphabetically by towboat name
  5. 173 index cards arranged alphabetically by person name