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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Richard G. Oram Chautauqua Collection

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1937-1941
Creator: Oram, Richard G. (1914-1999)
Extent: .50 linear feet.
Collection Number: MSC0150.15
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Member of a the Hanscom Players a well-known Chautauqua troupe that toured throughout the U.S.

Access: This collection is open for research.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Acquisition: Donated by Rich Oram, nephew, in 2001.

Preferred Citation: Richard G. Oram Chautauqua Collection, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman

RIchard G. Oram was born in 1914 in Warsaw, Indiana. He was a member of Bob Hanscom's traveling theatrical troupe from 1937-1940. In the early 1940s, he became a radio announcer in Warren, Ohio, and Indianapolis, Indiana. He went on to act in New York in the late 1940s. From 1950-1980 he was an insurance agent in Warsaw, Indiana. Richard Oram retired to Texas in 1980 and died in 1999.

The majority of this material relates to Oram's time as a member of the Hanscom Players, a well-known troupe represented in the Redpath Chautauqua collection. The correspondence, addressed to Mr. and Mrs. G. Harry Oram (parents) is especially interesting as he shares information on traveling through a number of northern states, followed by a circuit through the southeastern and southern United States. Grueling schedules and long days are evident, as was true for most traveling talent. At the same time, members of the company take advantage of the cities they play in and take in a lot of the sights, which is described in great detail by Oram. Not every letter is listed; those mentioned refer to performances and related details.
Records of the Redpath Lyceum Bureau, MsC 150 Please note the list of additional mini-collections of Chautauqua material at the end of the Redpath finding aid.

Browse by Series:
Series 1: GENERAL

  • Series 1: GENERAL
  • Box 1:
  • Diary - 1933-1937
  • Notebook: bookings with Hanscom Players; "not complete but 2nd notebook lost" printed on cover - 1937-1939
  • Date Book; cover says "1938"; dates represented are January 1-December 8 - 1939
  • Correspondence: September 12-March 27 - 1937-1938
  • Minneapolis; often presenting plays in 2-3 towns/day but names only the towns where he receives his mail through General Delivery; has to learn another show to give in the evenings; performs evening shows every night for those two weeks. Cast members are Miss Hill, Phyllis Wilson, Mr. Starr, and Oram. Performing Wings Over the Atlantic and Old Crusty Takes the Air. September 12 - 1937
  • Montana; plays (no titles) are meeting with considerable success; traveling by car to the Idaho border through the Rocky Mountains. September 24 - 1937
  • Great Falls, Montana. Traveled 941 miles during part of that week while giving 16 shows. October 2 - 1937
  • Kalispell, Montana. Talks about cold motel rooms and eating places. "One learns to be very demanding on the road." On to North and South Dakota the next week. October 8 - 1937
  • Traveled across state of Montana the past week; 18 shows; often traveled 135-140 miles after a 10:00 show. October 15 - 1937
  • Proceeding to Minneapolis. Bob (Hanscom) turned their 5 unbooked weeks over to Kenneth Stillman. They have been back and forth between North and South Dakota. At Dickinson, North Dakota, all hotels full, so the company is put up at the hospital, which apparently is normal procedure in Dickinson. They sleep in the maternity ward. The audiences in Bismarck, North Dakota at a reform school and at Catholic schools: "...among the best we have had. Very attentive and very responsive." October 23 - 1937
  • To be in Minneapolis through November 29, then to Illinois and Indiana under Northwest Assemblies. October - 1937
  • Taking the place of another company that isn't doing well. Will be traveling in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa. November 2 - 1937
  • In Winona, Minnesota. 10 shows that week, which is an "easy" week; 14 shows the week after. December 4 - 1937
  • Traveled through six states in two weeks. January - 1938
  • In the coal mining areas of Kentucky, where they play in a number of towns, including two company towns where everything is owned by the coal or steel company. January 29 - 1938
  • Have been through Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and soon Tennessee. March 27 - 1938
  • Bob is working on the schedule: "…he is new at this managing game." September 18 - 1938
  • Correspondence: April 4 through summer - 1938-1941
  • Oram has to fill in on a couple of marionette dates. He also gets the stage manager's part in Our Town. He is given the part on Saturday night for the opening of the show the following Wednesday. Letterhead on stationery reads "Lincoln Chautauqua and Summer Theatre, Lincoln, Illinois." Summer - 1940
  • All written in Mansfield, Ohio. Oram is doing radio broadcasts. In May 1941, he has a new job as radio announcer. During that summer, due to vacations and staff moving, he is broadcasting news, sports, writing ads, etc. November through summer - 1940-1941
  • Letter to Bob and Frances Hanscom for their 50th anniversary from Richard Oram. He recalls a humorous incident at their home involving "Ma Sunday" (widow of Billy Sunday) and a monkey during the summer of 1940 at the Lincoln, Illinois Chautauqua grounds. [n.d.]
  • Miscellaneous
  • Personnel list for The March of Civilizatio, Pacific Circuit
  • Personnel list for Wings Over the Atlantic Mountain Circuit
  • Cast of characters list for The Taming of the Shrew, [n.d.]
  • Cast of characters for Kempy, July 28 - 1937
  • Cast of characters for On Borrowed Time, July 30 - 1940
  • Newspaper clipping, "'Summer Theater' Reaches the Corn Belt," Decatur Sunday Herald and Review, Sunday, July 21; article about Bob Hanscom summer theater company
  • Souvenir program, "Summer Theater", June 3-August 10 - 1940
  • Photographs
  • Bob Hanscom Players
  • Holiday card, Captain Bob Hanscom

This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.

Personal Names:
Oram, Richard G., 1914-1999

Corporate Names:
Bob Hanscom Players (Theatrical group)

20th century



Genre/Form of Materials:
Clippings (Information artifacts)
Souvenir programs