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John A. Himmelein Papers - MS 184

Introduction | Biographical Sketch | Scope and Content | Series DescriptionInventory


The papers of John A. Himmelein date from 1892 to 1905. The history of his theatrical company, "The Ideals," is reflected in this collection which consists of correspondence, contracts, receipts, box office statements, play ads, broadsides and programs, newspaper clippings, sheet music, and numerous plays used by the company.

The John A. Himmelein papers were donated to the Center for Archival Collections in May 1982 through the cooperation of his niece, Mrs. Robert I. Coulon, and Paul D. Yon, Associate Director of the CAC. Literary and property rights have been dedicated to the public and duplication is permitted for the purposes of preservation and scholarly research. The collection was processed and the register drafted in Fall 1982 by Karen Snow, graduate assistant in History.

Additional John A. Himmelein papers are located at the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus, Ohio. Dating from 1907 to 1934, these records document the later activities of Himmelein's theatrical business. The O.H.S. collection inventory follows:

  1. Box Office Statements: January 31, 1923 to June 17, 1924, n.d.
  2. Contracts: 1915-1928
  3. Correspondence: 1907-1928, n.d.
  4. Programs: October ll, 1934
  5. Receipts: 1911, 1915

Biographical Sketch

John A. Himmelein managed and operated theaters in Sandusky and Elyria, Ohio, and Evansville, Indiana, in the late 1800's and early to mid 1900's. These theaters specialized in minstrel and vaudeville shows. Himmelein also managed the theatrical group, "The Ideals," from his hometown of Kelly's Island, Ohio, during this time period.

Scope and Content

The John A. Himmelein papers document the history of his theatrical group, "The Ideals," from 1892 to 1905. From a study of these records, predominately consisting of correspondence, contracts, receipts, box office statements, and plays, one can document the experiences of this theatrical group and its impact on the communities in which it performed.

A study of the group itself is best served by a combination of the correspondence, contracts, receipts, box office statements, and newspaper clippings. First, one will be able to formulate the basic touring route of the group, consisting of the cities visited and the length of stay. The success of "The Ideals" as a performing group can be derived from the box office statements, newsclippings, and correspondence from John Himmelein's manager, Dave H. Woods. The financial position of the group is found in the receipts and box office statements. From the examination of these two items, one can determine the types of goods and services purchased by the group as well as its overall financial standing. The incoming cash flow can in part be found in the box office statements and in the correspondence. Finally, an examination of the numerous plays will provide insight into the types of works performed by "The Ideals."

The John A. Himmelein papers also may be studied in the broader context of theater or entertainment in general. "The Ideals" can be compared with other theater or entertainment organizations of the time period or can be used to illustrate the development of American local theater up to the present time. A study of the plays themselves illustrate the type of works being performed during the late 1800's and early 1900's, thereby providing some insights into the accepted values of society at that time.

The following represents the possible routes of the John A. Himmelein Company, "The Ideals," for each of the years covered in the collection. The names of the cities and the dates were gathered from correspondence, box office statements, receipts, and contracts. It should be kept in mind that these are not positive routes, but those deduced from available material. Cities and dates, therefore, are approximate in most cases. They also may represent only the place of purchase of certain materials or the location of John Himmelein rather than the location of the group. This is especially true of those cities which do not fit into the emerging pattern of travel. An * denotes positive proof of the group's presence in that city during at least part of the time period stated.

Delphos, OH--July 11
*Trenton, NJ--November 7
*Springfield, OH--May 24
Kelly's Island, OH--June-August (Himmelein's summer residence)
Elyria, OH--August 17-August 24
Canton, OH--August 27
*Mansfield, OH--August 31-September 11
*Salem, OH--August 31-September 13
*Sandusky, OH--August 31-October 28
*Wooster, OH--September 10-September 11
*Bellefontaine, OH--September 21-October 3
*Marysville, OH--September 20-September 28
Piqua, OH--October 1-October 13
*Galion, OH--October 30-November 2
*Steubenville, OH--November 11-November 28
Akron, OH--November 14
*Pittsburgh, PA--November 19-November 21
East Liberty, PA--November 19-November 21
*Cumberland, MD--November 25-December 7
Alexandria, VA--December 7-December 16
*Norristown, PA--December 14-December 28
Shenandoah, PA--January 18-February 1
*York, PA--January 25-January 26
*Ashland, PA--January 29-February 8
*Sunbury, PA--February 8-Feburary 24
*Shamokin, PA--February 15
*Corning, NY--February 22-March 7
*Williamsport, PA--March 3
Scranton, PA--March 14-April 5
*Hazelton, PA--March 28-April 13
*Binghamton, NY--April 1
Ashland, PA--April 3-April 13
Harrisburg, PA--April 4-April 18
*Trenton, NJ--April 29
*Ashbury Park, NJ--May 9-May 16
*Easton, PA--September 23-September 19
Canton, OH--September 27
*Davenport, IA--February 16
*Aurora, IL--February 22-February 24
*Joliet, IL--February 20-March 28
*Terre Haute, IN--February 28-March 7
*Washington, IN--March 7-March 10
*Decatur, IL--March 15-March 18
*Bloomington, IL--March 21-March 23
*Joliet and Nappane, IL--March 26-March 31
*Logansport, IN--April 4-April 7
*Fort Wayne, IN--April 9-April 14
*Elkhart, IN--April 16-April 21
*Richmond, IN--April 22-April 25
Kelly's Island, OH--June 28-August 15
Youngstown, OH--August 29
East Liverpool, OH--September 11
New London/Mansfield, OH--September 22-October 8
Akron, OH--Spetember 25-October 4
Meadville, PA--October 3
Nassillon, OH--October 3-December 3
Johnston, PA--October 10
New Easter, PA--September 29-October 10
Altoona, PA--October 26
*Lock Haven, PA--November 13
Joliet, IL--November 26
*Aurora, IL--December 3 (week of)
*Bloomington, IL--December 17 (week of)
Reading, PA--December 1-December 22
Easton, PA--January 3-January 17
New York, NY--February 15-March 14
Fremont, OH--April 8
Saratoga Springs, NY--March 10
Rouie, NY--April 17
Oswego, NY--April 23-April 26
Niagra Falls, NY--May 7-May 28
*Lansing, MI--October 21 (week of)
*Jackson, MI--October 28 (week of)
Kelly's Island, OH--September 2
Kelly's Island, OH--June 6-August 2

Series Description


October 1892-August 1905.
Arranged chronologically
Includes incoming correspondence from actors requesting jobs, theatrical managers with information on the availability of certain plays and ticket sales, and business associates with information on the performances of "The Ideals."


1897, n.d.
Arranged alphabetically.
Consists of thirty-two identified plays (varying in number of parts present) used by the Himmelein theatrical group. Also contains several unidentified play books.


Arranged Chronologically by city, included with receipts and box office statements.
Contains hotel, baggage and theater contracts for the cities toured by "The Ideals."


Arranged chronologically by city, included with receipts and contracts.
Consists of a record of ticket sales at the local theaters in the various cities where the group performed.

Arranged chronologically by city, included with contracts and box office statements.
Consists of a record of the expenses of "The Ideals" including printing, travel, and rental expenses.


1896, n.d.
Consists primarily of undated reviews of performances put on by "The Ideals." The cities also are unidentified for the most part.


September 9, 1901; n.d.
Contains undated advertisements and broadsides of the various plays presented by "The Ideals."

1892-1893; March 28, 1900; n.d.
Arranged chronologically
Consists of three programs containing the name, cast and acts of the play, as well as the coming attractions and local advertisements for the city in which the play was performed.

Contains several undated tickets and free pases for various plays presented by the group.

1876, n.d.
Arranged chronologically
Consists of three published plays most likely performed by "The Ideals."

1890-1914, n.d.
Arranged chronologically
Includes musical scores most likely used by "The Ideals" with their performances.


Box 1

  1. Correspondence, October 1892
  2. Correspondence, May 1894
  3. Correspondence, March-December 1895
  4. Correspondence, February-May 1896
  5. Correspondence, September 1898
  6. Correspondence, February-March 1900
  7. Correspondence, April-December 1900
  8. Correspondence, January-May 1901
  9. Correspondence, September 1902
  10. Correspondence, April-August 1905

Box 2

  1. Play, "At The State Capitol", n.d.
  2. Play, "Black Flag", n.d.
  3. Play, "The Buckeye", n.d.
  4. Play, "The Buried Past", n.d.
  5. Play, "Dad's Girl", n.d.
  6. Play, "The Danites", n.d.
  7. Play, "Devils's Web", n.d.
  8. Play, "The Doctor", n.d.

Box 3

  1. Play, "The Governess", n.d.
  2. Play, "The Great Northwest", n.d.
  3. Play, "The Guide", n.d.
  4. Play, "In The Hands of The Enemy", n.d.
  5. Play, "In The Heart of The Storm", n.d.
  6. Play, "The Life Guard", n.d.

Box 4

  1. Play, "Little Ranch Heroine", 1897
  2. Play, "The Marble Heart", n.d.
  3. Play, "Myrtle Ferns", n.d.
  4. Play, "Nixey" (?), n.d.
  5. Play, "North and South", n.d.
  6. Play, "Our American Cousin", n.d.
  7. Play, "Our Angel", n.d.
  8. Play, "Our Wild Cat", n.d.
  9. Play, "The Planter's Wife", n.d.

Box 5

  1. Play, "Reddy's Luck", n.d.
  2. Play, "Running for Congress", n.d.
  3. Play, "Ruth May", n.d.
  4. Play, "Shadows of the Scaffold", n.d.
  5. Play, "Showers of Shamrocks", n.d.
  6. Play, "Storm Beaten", n.d.
  7. Play, "The Ticket-of-Leave Man", n.d.
  8. Play, "A True-Blue Yankee Girl", n.d.
  9. Play, "White Dove", n.d.
  10. Play, Unidentified, n.d.

Box 6

  1. Receipts, contracts, and box office statements, July; November 1892
  2. Receipts, contracts, and box office statements, May 1893
  3. Receipts, contracts, and box office statements, May-September 1895
  4. Receipts, contracts, and box office statements, October-December 1895
  5. Receipts, contracts, and box office statements, January-May 1896
  6. Receipts, contracts, and box office statements, February-December 1900
  7. Receipts, contracts, and box office statements, January-October 1901

Box 7

  1. Newspaper clippings, 1896, n.d.
  2. Play ads, September 9, 1901; n.d.
  3. Partial list of plays under the management of Howard & Doyle Theatrical Agents, n.d.
  4. Play programs, 1892-1893; March 28, 1900; n.d.
  5. Play tickets, n.d.
  6. Published play, "Better Than Gold", 1876
  7. Published play, "Ticket-of-Leave Man", n.d.
  8. Published play, "Down in Dixie", n.d.
  9. Sheet music, 1890-1914
  10. Sheet music, n.d.
  11. Photograph, Gus Sun with Bob Hope, Sept 2, 1951

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