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Kinsey Komedy Kompany - MS 23 mf

Introduction | Biographical Sketch | Scope and Content | Series Description | Order of Microfilming


The Kinsey Komedy Kompany Scrapbook Collection was loaned to the Center for Archival Collections by Dan McGinnis, Librarian at the Kaubisch Memorial Public Library, Fostoria, Ohio, for microfilming in May 1972. This collection consists of scrapbooks compiled from newspaper clippings, playbills, posters, programs, tickets, business cards, and correspondence, all of which document the travels and performances of this repertory troupe. Inclusive dates for this four volume collection are from 1902 to 1963, although many items are not dated.

No restrictions have been placed on the use of this one roll microfilm edition. The register was compiled by Kathleen M. McGoff, graduate student, Bowling Green State University, and completed by Ann Bowers, Manuscript Curator, Center for Archival Collections.

Biographical Sketch

The Kinsey Komedy Kompany and the Madge Kinsey Players were traveling repertory troupes in which four generations of Kinseys performed before audiences in New York, Michigan, West Virginia, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and especially in their home base, Ohio. The Kinsey Komedy Kompany, formed by Morris L. Kinsey in Iowa in 1881, moved to Ohio in 1896 after Kinsey married Elizabeth (Beth) Hughes, originally from Shreve, Ohio. Also in that year their first daughter, Madge April, was born.

The troupe made appearances in local opera houses in Ohio until 1901 when, with the purchase of tents, the troupe began traveling throughout the summers with tent appearances and maintaining more permanent opera house and theater bookings in the winter. In 1904, a second child, Kathryn Kidder, was born. In 1907 M. L. Kinsey died and ownership of the company transferred to Beth Kinsey. At this time the troupe was becoming well-known in Ohio and enjoying successful seasons. Beth married Frank Frederick Miller in 1910 who became manager of the troupe while Beth maintained sole ownership. This arrangement continued until the couple's retirement in 1941. In 1921, Madge Kinsey married Harry Graf and retired from the business for five years during which he had two daughters, Bette (1922) and Jean (1924). Ready to return to the glamour of the stage, Madge resumed her leading lady roles with the troupe in 1926. Madge's younger sister, Kathryn, married James Travis in 1929 and gave birth to a daughter, Patricia Ann, in 1931.

The now nine-member Kinsey family continued to run a successful family business playing to packed tents and theaters in the Ohio area during the Depression years. In 1935, the troupe split with Madge fulfilling her dream of heading her own company by forming the Madge Kinsey Players, with her family, Harry, Bette, and Jean forming the nucleus of the performers. The Kinsey Komedy Kompany continued under the management of Beth and Frank Miller until their retirement in Fostoria, Ohio in 1941. They both died shortly thereafter in 1944. Also in 1941, with the death of her husband, Jim, the retirement of her parents, and the ending of the Kinsey Komedy Kompany, Kathryn Kinsey Travis and her daughter Patsy, joined the Madge Kinsey Players.

The early 1940s saw a loss in bookings for this troupe and to keep active within the theater, the Madge Kinsey Players joined the Hilda Morgan Show in Houston, Texas, and played through the 1942-1943 winter season. In 1943 the troupe returned to Ohio and joined for the summer 1944 season,the Billy Bryant's Showboat Company--a show that was forced to close after a few weeks of playing in West Virginia. After a brief stay in New York City, the Madge Kinsey Players returned to Ohio (1946) and enjoyed a post-war boom, touring once again throughout Ohio. Additional family members were added when Bette married Jack Murdock (1946) and gave birth to fourth-generation Tek Murdock (1949), who made his stage debut at five months, and when Jean married Glenn (Pep) Graves (1947) and gave birth to Michelle (1949) and Michael (1950).

Unfortunately, the post-war boom for the Madge Kinsey Players was short-lived and the company gave its last performance in 1951. Madge and Harry moved to Florida where they worked with the Delray Beach Playhouse and managed a costume shop.

Further information on the two companies can be found in the scrapbooks and in a 1978 dissertation by Charles Harris Bell III, PhD candidate, Bowling Green State University, entitled: An Ohio Repertoire-Tent Show Family: The Kinsey Komedy Kompany and The Madge Kinsey Players, 1881-1951.

Scope and Content

The Kinsey Komedy Kompany Scrapbooks, 1902-1963, are more a collection of memorabilia than a documenation of the company's business, productions, and history. The scrapbooks are filled with clippings from newspapers, trade journals and magazines, tickets, playbills, posters, business cards, programs, telegrams, letters, and hand-written records. Not included in these scrapbooks are the contracts for the players, theater rentals, tent and maintenance costs, costumes, props and settings costs, transportation expenses, laborers' wages, gate receipts, food costs, and profits.

Most of the items are clippings, especially from local Ohio newspapers. These clippings provide information on playdates, locations, and shows, reviews of performances, and interviews with players. Some articles offer the history of the Kinsey Komedy Kompany and the Kinsey family including the Grafs and Millers. Many articles after 1951 are devoted to the semi-retirement of Madge Kinsey Graf and her husband, Harry, as well as all the Kinsey children and grandchildren. The clippings also provide information on the productions of the troupe. Besides the popular Toby comedies, the troupe performed social dramas like: "Her Unborn Child," a play concerning birth control; "The Lost Paradise," a conflict between labor and capital; "Little Lost Sister," a play about white slavery; "Ten Nights in a Barroom," a temperance drama; "The Warning," a morality plkay on infidelity; and "Uncle Tom's Cabin," the great production on slavery. The company also staged "East Lynne," "Detective Ned Keene," "The Banker, the Thief, and the Girl," and other standard plays.

Also included among the clippings are articles and newsprint photographs on the American Stock Company, Baberton Stock Company, Bigelow Family Band, Billy Bryant's Showboat, H. Donna Gosner, Robert Grau, Vincenti Minnelli and the Minnelli Brothers, Winfred St. Claire Players, Maud Powell and Oliver Scott as well as numerous advertisements from different entertainment companies.

Series Description


No consistent arrangement.
Includes newspaper clippings, reviews, articles from trade journals, advertisements, posters, playbills, programs, letters, telegrams, and handwritten records on employees, productions and locations and dates.

Order of Microfilming

Scrapbook 1

  • Playbills, tickets, posters, and photographs of Kinsey Komedy Kompany. (1902-1940)
  • Clippings from local Ohio newspapers on the troupe's shows, playdates and company's history and players. (1906-1940)
  • Clippings from trade journals' articles and advertisements featuring the Kinsey Komedy Kompany. (1906-1940)
  • Personal notices from newspapers especially wedding announcements. (1921-1947)
  • Tickets, posters, programs and newspaper clippings on the Madge Kinsey Players. (1935-1949)
  • Magazine articles on the Madge Kinsey Players focusing on the Graf Family and the players who have been with the company the longest. (1936-1949)
  • Telegrams and letters from friends, fans, and business acquaintances. (1935-1949)
  • Masonic history of Honorable Lewis Kinsey.
  • Programs and newspaper articles on the Delray Beach Playhouse in Florida. (1953-1963)
  • Newspaper articles on Harry Graf's jobs with Rodger Producing Company. (1951-1963)
  • Obituaries on Beth Kinsey Miller, Frank Frederick Miller, and James Travis. (1944, 1944, and 1941)
  • Newspaper articles on the Bigelow Family Band and Vincente Minnelli. (1951-1963)

Scrapbook 2

  • Handwritten records on 1913-1914 season including players' names, theater played, city and show.
  • Casts of players cut out of programs for 1913-1914 season.
  • Newspaper reviews and playdate notices on the winter season. (1913-1914)
  • Announcements and short articles from the local Ohio newspaper for the 1914 season.
  • Newspaper and trade journal articles on the American Stock Company, Winfred St. Claire Players, Earle Stock Company, Jack Lewis Players and Minnelli Brothers.
  • Business card describing the productions of Kinsey Komedy Kompany with Mr. H. Donna Gonser as agent. (1913-1914)

Scrapbook 3

  • Photographs of the players.
  • Design for advertisement or business card.
  • Form for baggage contract to the Kinsey Komedy Kompany.
  • Handwritten records on 1915 season including lists of company personnel, shows performed, towns and playdates.
  • Newspaper articles, reviews, and notices. (1915)
  • Advertisements from trade journals on job openings with different companies. (1915)

Scrapbook 4

  • Collection of newspaper and trade journal clippings on the Kinsey Komedy Kompany, the Madge Kinsey Players, the American Stock Company, Baberton Stock Company, Vincenti Minnelli, local bands, lady bands, Billy Bryant's Showboat, Ringling Brothers, Maud Powell, Oliver Scott, Robert Grau and Albert Ringling. (1915-1938)
  • Cast lists of American Stock Company cut out of programs for 1915 season.
  • 1913-1914 business card for Kinsey Komedy Kompany with Mr. H. Donna Gonser as agent.
  • One envelope from the Madge Kinsey Players addressed to H. Donna Gonser.
  • Two late Kinsey Komedy Kompany posters featuring Kathryn Kinsey and Patsy Kinsey Travis.

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