Barry Illinois Chautauqua Collection
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.
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Acquisition and Processing Information: Donated by Margaret Rutledge, whose ancestors were instrumental in bringing Chautauqua to Barry, Illinois.
Scope and Contents
Materials in this collection provide a behind-the-scenes look at how Chautauqua became a reality for one community. Correspondence, newspaper clippings, pages from a family history, and talent brochures are present. Much of the correspondence relates to the years of B.B. Watson's involvement.
Two generations of the Watson family, including Jon B. Watson, his brother, William Walcott Watson, and W.W.'s son, B.B. (Bret Bonnell) Watson, were instrumental in creating the independent Barry Chautauqua. The idea began as a method of counteracting the influence of carnivals on young people. A unique aspect was that a season ticket would admit the holder to twelve Chautauqua entertainments for one dollar. As the length of the annual Barry Chautauqua decreased from ten to six days, the crowds increased, thereby necessitating needs for a larger tent. The local committee contracted with various Chautauqua bureaus for talent, including lecturers, musicians, magicians, and other entertainment.
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
Newspaper clippings (transcriptions)
Talent brochures: Chicago Festival Quintet; Hazen Kelley, Ambulance Driver; Dr. Robert MacGowan; Vierra's Hawaiians; Hon. J. Frank Hanly; Mrs. Juliet V. Strauss; Orpheum Concert Company
Watson Family history (pages related to Barry, Illinois Chautauqua)