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Special Collections and University Archives

Finding Aid


Richard G. Oram Chautauqua Collection
MsC 150.15
Collection Dates: 1937-1941

Access and Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Digital Surrogates: Except where indicated, this document describes but does not reproduce the actual text, images and objects which make up this collection. Materials are available only in the Special Collections Department.

Copyright: Please read The University of Iowa Libraries' statement on Property Rights, Copyright Law, and Permissions to Use Unpublished Materials.

Use of Collections: The University of Iowa Libraries supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections. Nonetheless, access to some items may be restricted by their fragile condition or by contractual agreement with donors, and it may not be possible at all times to provide appropriate machinery for reading, viewing or accessing non-paper-based materials. Please read our Use of Manuscripts Statement.

Acquisition and Processing Information: Donated by Rich Oram, nephew, in 2001.

Photographs: Box 1




                Hanscom Players

                Hanscom Players, including RIchard Oram on the right.





Scope and Contents

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.

Biographical Note

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.

Related Materials

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.

Box Contents List

Diary, 1933-1937

Notebook: bookings with Hanscom Players, 1937-1939; "not complete but 2nd notebook lost" on cover

Date book; cover says "1938"; dates represented are January 1 - December 8, 1939

Correspondence: Folder 1, September 12, 1937-March 27, 1938

----September 12, 1937: 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 24: Montana; plays (no titles) are meeting with considerable success; traveling by car to the

Idaho border through the Rocky Mountains

----October 2: Great Falls, Montana. Traveled 941 miles during part of that week while giving 16 shows.

----October 8: 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 15: Traveled across state of Montana the past week; 18 shows; often traveled135-140 miles after a 10:00 show.

----October 23: 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 1937: to be in Minneapolis through November 29, then to Illinois and Indiana under Northwest Assemblies.

----November 2: 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.

----December 4: in Winona, Minnesota: 10 shows that week, which is an "easy" week; 14 shows the week after.

----January 1938: traveled through six states in two weeks.

----January 29: 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.

----March 27: have been through Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and soon Tennessee.

----September 18: Bob is working on the schedule: "...he is new at this managing game."

Correspondence, Folder 2 : April 4, 1938 through summer 1941

---Summer 1940: 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."

----November 1940 through summer 1941; 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.

-----[n.d.] 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.



----Personnel list for two plays:


------ The March of Civilization Pacific Circuit

------ Wings Over the Atlantic Mountain Circuit

----Cast of characters lists

------The Taming of the Shrew [n.d.]

------Kempy, July 28, 1937

------On Borrowed Time, July 30, 1940

----Newspaper clipping, "'Summer Theater' Reaches the Corn Belt," Decatur Sunday Herald and Review,

           Sunday, July 21, 1940; article about Bob Hanscom summer theater company.

----Souvenir program, "Summer Theater", June 3 - August 10, 1940


----Bob Hanscom Players

----Holiday card, Captain Bob Hanscom