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Harold Obee Collection (Bowling Green, Ohio) - MS 583

Introduction | Biographical Sketch | Scope and Content | Series Description | Inventory


The Harold Obee collection is comprised of 3.5 cubic feet of predominantly research files, student papers, printed materials, and news clippings focused upon the study of drama and theater history. Collection dates run from 1906-1989 with major concentration between 1948 and 1978. Dr Obee was especially interesting in compiling a collection of source materials relevant to the development, history, and activities of community and college theaters throughout Ohio. About half of the documents in the collection are evidence of this effort. The remainder focuses upon general theater and speech instruction.

Some of the collection's earliest documents (1906-1912) include programs from both the Chidester and Everybody's Theaters in Bowling Green, Ohio. Research cards produced from Ohio theater resources located at Ohio repositories and libraries provide details about theater programs, performances, and events from the 19th into the 20th centuries at theaters in such Ohio cities as Cincinnati, Toledo, Findlay, and Bowling Green. A hand drawn floor plan made in approximately 1960 of the auditorium of the Chidester Theater (formerly the Hankey-Taber Opera House) based on the memory of Minibelle Conley will be of interest to Bowling Green historians. Season theater schedules from the Stratford Shakespeare Festival (Ontario, Canada), Cincinnati Playhouse from the 1980's, and miscellaneous tourist brochures are included among the printed materials.

The collection was donated to the CAC by Ellen Obee with the cooperation of the Popular Culture Library, March 26, 1990. No restrictions have been placed upon the use of the collection from scholarly purposes. The collection was arranged and finding aid completed by Eric Honneffer, April 2007.

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Harold B. Obee was professor of speech at Bowling Green State University from 1949 until his retirement in 1978. He died in 1989. He served as play director, theater technical director, and business manager of the BGSU theater program. He also directed productions at the Huron Playhouse for the University's summer theater program.

Dr. Obee was born May 4, 1915 in Catawba, Ohio. He received his bachelor's degree from Adrian College in 1938. In 1946, he received a masters degree and in 1961 a PhD from Ohio State University. His manuscripts reflect his special interest in researching theater history in Ohio with a particular desire to develop and have accessible at an academic institution, a special collection comprised of source material documenting the state's theater history.

Scope and Content

The Harold Obee Collection's 3.5 cubic feet of research files, note cards, research papers, and printed materials and clippings document Dr. Obee's efforts to identify scholarly resources relevant to the history of Ohio's theaters. These records would be especially useful to scholars with an interest in the dramatic arts and performing artists of Ohio.

Original programs from Bowling Green's Chidester and Everybody's Theaters, note cards and news clippings relevant to local stage performances and performers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries will be of interest to local historians. Dr. Obee collected documentation and printed materials concerning the location of other theater research documents and collections available at libraries and archives both in Ohio and nationwide. Student research papers are included on topics concerning stage productions over the years at BGSU and provide a useful history of dramatic arts at the university.

Series Description


1952-1957, 1962
Arranged chronologically
Folder contains some minutes, annual reports, and correspondence for the Society for Theatre Research.

1978-1988 scattered
Arranged chronologically
Folder contains membership lists for the American Society for Theatre Reseach.

1982-1988 scattered
Arranged chronologically
Folder contains membership lists for the Theatre Library Association. Several pieces of correspondence from 1948-1948 are included.


1949-1975 scattered
The correspondence pertains to Dr. Obee's research on the history of theater in Ohio.


Arranged by subject then chronologically
The records include notes, printed materials and clippings pertinent to the history of theater in Ohio, local performers and the like. Some items are relevant to the Bowling Green Opera House (later Chidester Theater) and actress Ruth McDevitt. One miscellaneous folder contains pamphlets, clippings, and notes about medieval and European drama. These files also include research cards on Ohio theaters, speech topics, playwrights, and off-Broadway shows.


Arranged chronologically
These include student research papers written on such subjects as theater history, style, set design, lighting, and dramatic productions staged at BGSU. Also included is a proposal for the establishment of a special collection of materials at the BGSU library on Ohio theater history by Dr. Obee.


Arranged chronologically
Documents include theater programs (Chidester and Everybody's theaters in Bowling Green), season theater schedules for Stratford Festival, Cincinnati Playhouse etc., theater and museum brochures, documentation on Ohio and U.S. theater collections, classroom instructional materials, articles, article reprints, and news clippings. Many of these documents pertain to Dr. Obee's research of theaters of Ohio.


These include two rolls of microfilm containing Rip Van Winkle folios from the British Museum, two film strips devoted to paper scenery and a stage properties catalog.


Box 1


  1. Society for Theatre Research- membership documents, 1952-1957,1962
  2. American Society for Theatre Research - membership lists, 1978-1988 (scattered)
  3. Theatre Library Association- membership lists 1982-1988 scattered
    Misc. correspondence, 1948-1949 scattered
  4. Correspondence- history of the theater in Ohio Research, 1954-1964 (scattered)
  5. Correspondence- misc., 1949-1975 (scattered)
  6. Class File- outlines, notes, lectures, 1962-1967 (scattered)
  7. Research files- Medieval and European drama-printed materials, notes, 1948-1977 (scattered)
  8. Research files- History of the theater in Ohio- research hours chart, notes, letter draft, 1954, 1963
  9. Research files- History of the theater in Ohio-B.G. Opera House- excerpts from Bowling Green Newspapers, notes, 1955-1956
  10. Research files- History of the theater in Ohio-owling Green theaters (mostly Chidester) history From Bowling Green newspaper clippings. Includes Artist's conception of Chidester floor plan, c. 1950, 1966, 1970
  11. Research files - History of the theater in Ohio-Bowling Green history from Bowling Green newspaper clippings, c. 1950
  12. Research files- Ohio actors- clippings, notes, 1965
  13. Research files- Ruth McDevitt, (actress, Bowling Green native) clippings, 1966-1972
  14. Research files- paper scenery notes, c. 1960

Box 2: Literary Productions

  1. Student paper- "The Historical Lighting and its Modern Applications" by J.D. Elbertson , 5-30-1952
  2. Student paper- "An Historical Study of Full-Length Plays Presented at BGSU from 1920-1953" by J.L. Limbacher, 5-14-1953
  3. Student paper- "Report on the Physical Theater in Toledo, Ohio from 1895-1915" by D. Myers and three other papers for History of Theater 442, May 1954
  4. Student paper- "'The Corsican Brothers'...A Selective Study" by J.W. Hunter, August 1957
  5. Student paper- "The Epic Stage as Seen by Mordecai Gorelik" by J.L. Greiss, Spring 1962
  6. Request for research grant 1963-64- "Bibliography of Historical Source Materials on Ohio Theatre" by Harold B. Obee, 4-17-1963
  7. Proposal for the establishment of a special collection of materials at BGSU library on Ohio Theater history by Harold B. Obee, April 1963
  8. Student paper- "A Study of Styles in Theatre...Production as Bowling Green- 1962-1963" by P. Alff, 5-6-1963
  9. A specimen section of The Shakespeare Promptbooks (The Coriolanus Promptbooks) A Descriptive catalogue by C.H. Shattuck, 11-30-1963
  10. Bibliography- "American Theatre History- A a Selected Bibliography for 1963" by F.M. Litto, 1963
  11. Student paper- "The Dramaturgical Influence of Theatre Symbolism, The New Stagecraft and Impression on Contemporary Definitions and Concepts of Expressionism" by J.T. Oosting, 6-1-1964
  12. Student paper- "The Stage Design of Erwin Piscator" by J. Wadian, June 1966
  13. Student paper- "Introduction to the History of Theatre Realism and Naturalism" by M. J. Johnson, 1968
  14. Student paper- "Vakhtangov's Fantastic Realism..." by S. Levy, 8-24-1970
  15. Student paper- Surrealism outline by D. Koch, 3-1-72
  16. Student paper- " A Fustian Discussing of Acting Style" by E. Hill, 2-2-1973
  17. Student paper- "Some Thoughts on Acting Style" by R. Crouse, 3-14-1973
  18. Student paper- "Surrealism- A Subconscious Art Form" by B. Floto, 5-31-1974
  19. Student paper- "Twentieth Century Isms in Scenic Design" by R. L. Held, 5-9-1975
  20. Student paper- "An Iconology of American Scenic Design..." by R. Held, June 1975
  21. Student paper/Listing of "Theater productions, talent scholarships recipients, Huron Playhouse productions and one act plays at BGSU theater program unit" no author, July 1982
  22. Paper- "Extending the Use of Theatre Libraries and Play Lending Libraries" no author, ca. 1950
  23. Paper- Art of the Twentieth Century-style. No author, ca. 1950
  24. Paper- Modern stage setting types-style. No author, c. 1950
  25. Student paper- "Meyerhold: Constructivism and Biomechanics" by J. A. Panaowski, ca. 1950
  26. Student paper- "Bel Geddes as Constructivist", by H. Dalrymple, ca. 1970
  27. Student paper- "The Expressionist Style" by J. P. Watson, ca. 1960
  28. Student paper- "An Approach to the Concept of Style" by B. M. Kingsbury, ca. 1970
  29. Student paper- "Realistic vs. Naturalistic Drama..." ny B. Marsh, ca. 1970
  30. Paper- "Graphic Sources for a Modern Approach to the Acting of Restoration Comedy" by Wandalie Henshaw, ca. 1970
  31. Student paper- "Strindberg's The Ghost Sonata: An Example of Dramatic Expressionism" by G. L. Maurer, c. 1970

Dr. Obee's research cards located in Box 5

Box 3

  1. Programs- Childester Theater-Bowling Green, OH, 1906-1907, n.d.
  2. Programs- Everybody's Theater- Bowling Green, OH, 1912
  3. Chapter from The Ohio Guide- "Theater", 1940
  4. Article on scenic design, 1947-1948
  5. Misc. brochures- theaters and museum, 1951-1970 scattered
  6. Printed Materials- U.S. theater collections, 1952-1978 scattered
  7. Booklet- Family Plays Project- OSU/BGSU, Sept. 1955
  8. OSU Theatre Collection Handbook, 1959
  9. Printed materials- theater collections at OSU, 1960-1974 (scattered)
  10. Printed materials- theater collections in Ohio, 1961-1965
  11. Article reprints- signed and inscribed-drama topics, 1962, 1973
  12. Annual report- American National Theatre Academy, 1967
  13. Season schedules- Stratford Festival, 1985-1989
  14. Season schedules- The Cincinnati Playhouse, 1980's
  15. Season schedules- misc., 1978-1989
  16. Listings- Theater research resources, 1974-1977

Box 4

  1. Printed material- "Classic Theatre" program book, 1975
  2. Printed material- "Classic Theatre" press kit, 1975
  3. Printed material- "Classic Theatre" classroom Instruction manual, 1975
  4. Printed material- Directory of Non-Professional Community Theatres in the US, 1952-1953
  5. Printed material- SCA- Speech Communication Directory and Publication Listing, 1973-1975
  6. Printed material- Sleepy Hollow Restorations book catalog, Spring, 1977
  7. Printed material- Ohio Theatre Alliance directories, 1977-1985 scattered
  8. Clippings- history of the theater in Ohio (nw Oh.), 1956-1988 scattered
  9. Clippings- general theater history, 1962-1975 scattered
  10. Clippings- Ohio actors (many clips from Ray Oviatt Column in The Blade), 1962-1976 (scattered)
  11. Clipping and News Release- Ohio Theater Research Project, 1964

Box 5

Research cards for Ohio Theaters including such cities as Cincinnati, Toledo, Findlay, Bowling Green, etc. and misc. speech and playwright cards (Late 19th century-20th)

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