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Finding Aid

Papers of the Trousdale Theatrical Troupes
MsC 778
Collection Dates: 1892-1930
3 linear ft.

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: These papers were donated to the University of Iowa Libraries by Truly Trousdale Latchaw in September 1976.  Guide created in June 2009.

Photographs: Box 1

Boyd Trousdale as the lead in "The Man on the Box," 1909-1910

Scope and Contents

Photograph: Boyd Trousdale as the lead in "The Man on the Box," 1909-1910

The Papers of the Trousdale Theatrical Troupes include photographs, newspaper clippings, playbills and itineraries concerning vaudeville performances.  Also included is an Actors’ Equity Association booklet, which explains the benefits of membership and provides a sample contract form, circa 1919.  The association was affiliated with the American Federation of Labor.

Materials related to Truly Trousdale Latchaw include photographs, a photocopy of her University of Minnesota M. A. thesis, and a video cassette of her performance of "Daughter of the Theater," in September 1981.  This particular performance was at Golden Age Home in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  However, Latchaw also performed "Daughter of the Theater" in 37 towns during 1982, including the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa.   Box one contains a draft of Truly's book, Trousdale Brothers Tonight! which was published by J. R. Latchaw in 1993.

Biographical Note

Etrulia "Truly" Trousdale Latchaw was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1914 to Winn Trousdale and Roxa Gaylord Trousdale.  She received her B. A. from Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, in 1935, and took her M. A. degree from the University of Minnesota in 1948.  She worked as an educator in theatre.  Truly Trousdale Latchaw died May 2, 2010, at age 96.

Latchaw’s father and three uncles were from Estherville, Iowa.  Merle Mortimer was the oldest brother, followed in descending age by Earle Eugene, Winn Walton, and Boyd Buckmaster.  The four men established the vaudeville act, The Trousdale Brothers in 1896 and also performed in opera houses and tents as The Trousdale Family Swiss Bell and Concert Company.  In addition to bells, they played several musical instruments, including a glassophone, which is a glass xylophone.  The brothers sang solo as well as quartet numbers.  Boyd performed female impersonations in plays, and the older brothers performed as Irish characters or in blackface.  The wives and friends of the Trousdale brothers performed with them.  Trained dogs, ponies, and goats were part of the act as they traveled throughout the Midwest.  According to Truly Trousdale Latchaw in her Master's thesis, they performed in 26 states and 232 towns, in addition to Canada, from 1896 to 1915.  Live performances by handbell players lost popularity with the advent of radio entertainment. However, Boyd continued performances until 1930 with the Boyd B. Trousdale Players, initially based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  After five years, Boyd's company moved to North Carolina, then back to Iowa, on to Montana, Wyoming, and finally returned to several Iowa towns – Waterloo, Cedar Rapids, and eventually Sioux City.

[D. Anderson; 06/2009]

Related Materials

Andrews, Clarence A. “ The Trouping Trousdales.” The Iowan, vol. 30: no. 4 (Summer 1982) pp. 23-27.

Latchaw, Truly Trousdale. The just shall live by faith, a play in six scenes, based on the life of Martin Luther. Minneapolis, T. S. Denison & Company [c1952] Iowa Authors Collection.

Latchaw, Truly Trousdale. “Trousdale Brothers’ Theatrical Companies from 1896-1915.” Master’s thesis, University of Minnesota, 1948.

Latchaw, Truly Trousdale.  Audio-visual guidance materials; an annotated bibliography and directory of Minnesota sources. St. Paul, State Department of Education, 1970.

Truly Trousdale Latchaw collection (PA 38), Performing Arts Archives, University of Minnesota Libraries, Minneapolis.

Truly Trousdale Latchaw KUOM interview tapes (PA 39), Performing Arts Archives, University of Minnesota Libraries, Minneapolis.

Box Contents List

Box 1

Truly Trousdale’s brief box list


----. Alfred Eli Gaylord

----. Charles W. Trousdale

----. Merle M. Trousdale

----. Winn W. Trousdale

----. Earle E. Trousdale

----. Boyd B. Trousdale

----. Neil Norman Trousdale and Quentin Trousdale

----. Truly Trousdale

----. Photographs, various [five folders]

“The Trousdale Brothers Theatrical Companies from 1896 to 1915,” photocopy of Master’s thesis, University of Minnesota, December 1948.

Trousdale Brothers Tonight!

----. Photographs

----. Photocopies of photographs

----. Clippings [see oversized box]

----. Directions for playing a tune on water glasses

----. Draft

----. Maps showing performance locations

----. Advertisements for performances

Three-ring binder of photographs, clippings, and playbills [two folders]

Neil Norman Trousdale, miscellaneous, 1919, 1925

Truly’s performances

----. “Fi-Fi of the Toy Shop,” play at Clark’s Theatre, Truly played a fairy, February 24-25, [1920?]

----. Umatic video cassette tape and slides, Truly’s performance of “Daughter of the Theater,” performed at the Golden Age Home, September 1, 1981.

----. Truly’s performance of “Daughter of the Theater,” at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 3, 1986

----. Truly played Mary Morgan in “Ten Nights in a Bar-Room,” Grinnell, Iowa, n.d.

Grant application, 1982

Playbill, Boyd B. Trousdale and Don Dixon Present the Boyd B. Trousdale Stock Co., September 11 [1899?]

Photocopy of playbill, Boyd B. Trousdale and Jack Lowry present “The Drunkard,” Billings, Montana, December 28, 1934

Grant application

Play program, “The Man on the Box,” 1911

Play script, “Humpty Dumpty,” n.d.

Booklet by T. S. Denison & Co., vaudeville sketches sent to Truly from Gordon Trousdale

Article, “Detroit Theatre Company”

Centennial program for town of Arthur, Iowa, 1981

Research for Trousdale Brothers Tonight! [two folders]

Film and television script, Trousdale Brothers Tonight!

Trousdale Brothers Tonight!

Clippings regarding performances, seven photographs, 1926-1927

Clippings of all Trousdale companies

Boyd B. Trousdale company, 1911

Merle Trousdales’s company, n.d.

Box 2

Hymn book of C. W. Trousdale (1895); The Hymnal (1916)

Merle Trousdale’s autograph books, 1888, 1894

Earle Trousdale’s autograph book, 1888

Winn Trousdale’s autograph book, November 1888-January 1889

Clippings mounted in two engagement books, 1899

Bookkeeping – money order receipts (1907-1915); bank account books (1924, 1927-1928)

Expenses ledger – food, fuel, gifts, July-September 1937 and n.d.

Business contacts

Actors’ Equity Association booklet, c. 1919

Box 3

Performances recorded in pocket-sized engagement ledgers

Folder 1

----. April-May [year not known]

----. April 1, 1893-September 27, 1894

----. 1894-1895

----. November 25, 1898-July 22, 1899

----. November 1898-February 1900

----. 1899-1900

----. 1900

Folder 2

----. 1903

----. 1904

----. 1905-1906

----. June 1905-June 1907

----. 1906-1907

----. 1907 [two ledgers]

----. 1907-1908

----. June 1907-May 1909

----. 1908

----. 1909-1911

----. 1910

Folder 3

----. July 1910-June 1911

----. June 25, 1911-July 4, 1913

----. 1912

----. July 1913-June 1915

----. 1917

----. 1922

----. 1923 [two ledgers]

Folder 4

----. 1924; newspaper clipping, May 20, 1924

----. 1924-1925

----. 1925 [two ledgers]

----. September 1925-January 1, 1927

----. 1926

----. September 1926-December 1927

----. December 1926-December 1927

----. 1927 [two ledgers]

----. 1927-1928

Box 4

Performances recorded in pocket-sized engagement ledgers, cont.

Folder 1

----. 1928 [includes character drawings from popular plays of the 1920s, possibly by Neil Trousdale]

----. September 1928-December 1929 [includes note, “Second Generation” of performers]

----. May 1928-July 1930

----. 1929

----. 1930 [inscribed as “…the most disastrous year of my life.]

----. 1930-1931 [two ledgers]

----. 1931; photograph of two bears in a zoo

----. 1931-1932

Folder 2

----. 1932

----. 1933-1934

----. 1935-1936

----. 1936 [two ledgers]

----. 1937

----. 1939

----. 1942


----. 1944

----. 1945-1946

Folder 3

----. 1947

----. 1949

----. 1950

----. 1951

----. 1952; Reference card listing Iowa county automobile license plate numbers for 1956


Folder 4

Bookkeeping ledger for Trousdale and Sweet Stock Company, May 30, 1927-May 28, 1928


Photograph, Earle and Bern’s Box Company, n.d.

“The Burglar” play script by Augustus Thomas, n.d.

Bookkeeping journals, 1927, 1929

Neil Norman Trousdale’s high school diploma from Iowa, May 1921

Clippings used for Trousdale Brothers Tonight!