Iowa State Student Theatrical Performances at the Iowa State Fair

Frederica Shattuck (above) had her students perform one-act plays at the Iowa State Fair during the early part of the 20th century.

Today is the first day of the Iowa State Fair!  Today’s state fair is full of a variety of events events such as “music, magic, mimes and more” as the Iowa State Fair’s website states.  What entertainment was offered in years past, and how were Iowa State students involved?

Iowa State students performing at the Iowa State Fair in 1921
(from University Photograph Collection, 13-23-G, box 1221).

During the first half of the 20th century, Frederica Shattuck was an instructor and professor (1907-1956) of public speaking here at Iowa State.  She created “The Little Country Theater” as an Iowa State Fair exhibit, which were one-act plays presented free to the public and continued for eight years.  The collection of her papers (RS 13/23/51) here at the Special Collections Department contains a folder on the Iowa State Fair and “The Little Country Theater” from the years 1922-1924 (box 2, folder 3), and our University Photograph Collection contains photographs of some of the performances.

Below is one of the programs for the 1923 performances at the Iowa State Fair (RS 13/23/51, box 2, folder 3):

If you would like to see if you can find out more about these one-act plays performed at the Iowa State Fair, please come on up to the Special Collections Department.  In fact, while you’re up here you can take a look at the exhibit in our Reading Room about 4-H!  More about 4-Hers involved in the State Fair can also be found throughout the 4-H Youth Development Records (RS 16/3/4).  Those who might want to read about plans for past Iowa State Fairs, and brief reports of past fairs might want to take a look at the Annual Iowa Year Book of Agriculture (call number S61 Io9i).  Some volumes are available here in the Special Collections Department, and a more complete run is available in the General Collection and on microfilm.

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