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SHSND Home > Archives > Archives Holdings > Archives & Manuscripts > Family/Local History > 11339
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2019-2021 Blue Book Cover

Federal Depository Library Program

Chronicling America

Manuscripts by Subject - Family / Local History - #11339

Title: Lawrence J. Hill

Dates: 1983-1985

Collection Number: 11339

Quantity: 1 foot

Abstract: Hill's research on opera houses in 49 cities in North Dakota. Each file contains information such as slides, photos, newspaper clippings, notes made by Hill while conducting the research, and some letters from individuals in those cities. Some folders have much more information than others. Each file has a listing on the front of the various materials enclosed. The collection also includes: a description of the project; a listing of the opera houses in North Dakota (compiled by Hill); two advertisements for a "Day In, Day Out, a Joint North Dakota/South Dakota Humanities Symposium held October 20-22, 1989, in Bismarck, NO; a publication of the MidAmerica Theatre Conference: "Opera Houses of the Midwest," published in 1988 and the "Northwood Diamond Jubilee 1884-1959."

The collection is of value to those studying the history of entertainment in the small towns and cities of North Dakota from the 1880s-1940s. In particular, the slides which show "ad drops" (usually a scene such as woodlands surrounded by advertisements from various merchants in the town) are valuable in that they give the history of the city merchants at that time. The elaborateness of the drop reflects the amount of money spent on its creation. The drops range from those created by itinerant or local painters and those created by professional scenic designers. Sossman and Landis was the most important scenic company in the upper Midwest and was based in Chicago (see Jamestown among others). Peter Clausen was the first Minneapolis scenic painter (see Wahpeton).

Provenance: The collection was donated to the SHSND by Lawrence J. Hill on December 12, 2017.

Property Rights: The State Historical Society of North Dakota owns the property rights to this collection.

Copyrights: Copyrights to this collection remain with the donor, publisher, author, or author's heirs.  Researchers should consult the 1976 Copyright Act, Public Law 94-553, Title 17, U.S. Code or an archivist at this repository if clarification of copyright requirements is needed.

Access: This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Citation: Researchers are requested to cite the collection title, collection number, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota in all footnote and bibliographic references.

Description of history project: researching, cataloging, photographing, and collating material on the theatres, opera houses and performance halls in North Dakota by Lawrence J. Hill: The material in this collection contains an examination and review of the halls, opera houses, and
theaters that were the entertainment centers for most of the communities in North Dakota from the 1880's into the 1930's and 1940's. The larger opera houses in the state held the most famous touring companies playing the "road." Even in smaller communities, the halls booked regional professional entertainers. At all the locations, the local community used the spaces for such diverse events as basketball, dances, lodge meetings, local performances of choral and theatrical groups and a wide range of professional entertainments.

My travels throughout North Dakota were guided by the records of more than 420 known locations equipped to hold performances. My research found that almost every community attempted to provide some location for entertainment, both professionally and locally produced. Many of the smaller buildings exist and still hold scenery and artifacts that tell us about those evenings of entertainment that constituted much of the social life of the northern prairie. Some buildings held 100 people and a stage with an "advertising drop"; others held 1,000 people with elaborate scenery and ornate decoration on the balconies and ceiling. While time has been unkind to these buildings, there have been several restorations, and many more recent attempts to record information about these entertainment centers. Several important buildings and artifacts have been saved. Under the auspices of a North Dakota Humanities Council Fellowship, I photographed many of the existing buildings and their contents.

The material collected ranges from communities such as Grace City and Heimdal with professional scenery, to locally produced drops at an existing hall in Antler, to the surviving opera houses at Ellendale and Lisbon, to a history of one of the most active opera houses in the state at Jamestown.

At the time of this research, roughly 1983-1985, the author was an associate professor of theatre arts at the University of North Dakota. His research about North Dakota performance sites is part of a seven state project of the Mid-America Theatre Conference concerned with the preservation of performance centers in a seven state region. This project encompassed the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri.

Box/Folder Inventory

Box 1:
1 Index of opera houses in North Dakota by city 1983-1985
2 Documentation of project: Description of the theatre history project by Lawrence J. Hill, Ph.D. and Advertisement for Day Out
3 Adams (Items: 00001-00002)   1983-1985
4 Akra   1983-1985
5 Ambrose (Items: 00003)            1983-1985
6 Antler (Items: 00004-00009)     1983-1985
7 Ashley               1983-1985
8 Bowbells          1983-1985
9 Cando                1983-1985
10 Carrington     1983-1985
11 Cogswell        1983-1985
12 Dunn Center (Items: 00010-00017)     1983-1985
13 Ellendale (Items: 00018-00035)             1983-1985
14 Fargo (Items: 00036-00037)    1983-1985
15 Flaxton           1983-1985
16 Fortuna (Items: 00038-00048)               1983-1985
17 Gardar (Items: 00049)              1983-1985
18 Grace City (Items: 00050-00051)          1983-1985
19 Grafton          1983-1985
20 Grand Forks 1983-1985
21 Grand Rapids (Items: 00052-00055)    1983-1985
22 Hamburg (Items: 00056)          1983-1985
23 Hankinson     1983-1985
24 Heimdal (Items: 00057-00063)              1983-1985
25 Jamestown (Items: 00064-00095)        1983-1985
26 Kenmare (Items: 00096-00097)            1983-1985
27 Lakota             1983-1985
28 Langdon         1983-1985
29 Lankin             1983-1985
30 Lidgerwood (Items: 00098-00119)       1983-1985
31 Lisbon (Items: 00120-00157)  1983-1985
32 McClusky       1983-1985
33 Maddock (Items: 00158-00164)            1983-1985
34 Mandan         1983-1985
35 Melville (Items: 00165-00167)               1983-1985

Box 2:
1 Millarton (Items: 00168-00170)               1983-1985
2 Milnor (Items: 00171-00172)    1983-1985
3 Minot                1983-1985
4 Minto (Items: 00173-00182)     1983-1985
5 Montpelier (Items: 00183)        1983-1985
6 Neche (Items: 00184-00188)    1983-1985
7 New Rockford (Items: 00189-00193)    1983-1985
8 Niobe (Items: 00194-00195)     1983-1985
9 Northwood (Items: 00196-00205)          1983-1985
10 Pekin (Items: 00206) 1983-1985
11 Rawson          1983-1985
12 Ray   1983-1985
13 Rugby              1983-1985
14 Valley City     1983-1985
15 Velva (Items: 00207-00213)    1983-1985
16 Wahpeton (Items: 00214-00215)         1983-1985
17 Miscellaneous: Crystal, Minnewaukan, Silva, Watford City and Williston 1983-1985
18 Unidentified slides (Items: 00216-00224)         1983-1985
19 Unidentified negatives (Items: 00225-0247)   1983-1985
20 Negatives that correspond with prints in the collection 1983-1985

Photographs Inventory

Item Number/Title/Dates
00001    Opera house, Adams (N.D.)
00002    Opera house, Adams (N.D.)
00003    Opera house, Ambrose (N.D.)
00004    Opera house, Antler (N.D.)
00005    Opera house, Antler (N.D.)
00006    Opera house, Antler (N.D.)
00007    Opera house, Antler (N.D.)
00008    Opera house, Antler (N.D.)
00009    Opera house, Antler (N.D.)
00010    Opera house, Dunn Center (N.D.)
00011    Opera house, Dunn Center (N.D.)
00012    Opera house, Dunn Center (N.D.)
00013    Opera house, Dunn Center (N.D.)
00014    Opera house, Dunn Center (N.D.)
00015    Opera house, Dunn Center (N.D.)
00016    Opera house, Dunn Center (N.D.)
00017    Opera house, Dunn Center (N.D.)
00018    Opera house, Ellendale (N.D.)
00019    Opera house, Ellendale (N.D.)
00020    Opera house, Ellendale (N.D.)
00021    Opera house, Ellendale (N.D.)
00022    Opera house, Ellendale (N.D.)
00023    Opera house, Ellendale (N.D.)
00024    Opera house, Ellendale (N.D.)
00025    Opera house, Ellendale (N.D.)
00026    Opera house, Ellendale (N.D.)
00027    Opera house, Ellendale (N.D.)
00028    Opera house, Ellendale (N.D.)
00029    Opera house, Ellendale (N.D.)
00030    Opera house, Ellendale (N.D.)
00031    Opera house, Ellendale (N.D.)
00032    Opera house, Ellendale (N.D.)
00033    Opera house, Ellendale (N.D.)
00034    Opera house, Ellendale (N.D.)
00035    Opera house, Ellendale (N.D.)
00036    Opera house, Fargo (N.D.)
00037    Opera house, Fargo (N.D.)
00038    Opera house, Fortuna (N.D.)
00039    Opera house, Fortuna (N.D.)
00040    Opera house, Fortuna (N.D.)
00041    Opera house, Fortuna (N.D.)
00042    Opera house, Fortuna (N.D.)
00043    Opera house, Fortuna (N.D.)
00044    Opera house, Fortuna (N.D.)
00045    Opera house, Fortuna (N.D.)
00046    Opera house, Fortuna (N.D.)
00047    Opera house, Fortuna (N.D.)
00048    Opera house, Fortuna (N.D.)
00049    Opera house, Gardar (N.D.)
00050    Opera house, Grace City (N.D.)
00051    Opera house, Grace City (N.D.)
00052    Opera house, Grand Rapids (N.D.)
00053    Opera house, Grand Rapids (N.D.)
00054    Opera house, Grand Rapids (N.D.)
00055    Opera house, Grand Rapids (N.D.)
00056    Opera house, Hamburg (N.D.)
00057    Opera house, Heimdal (N.D.)
00058    Opera house, Heimdal (N.D.)
00059    Opera house, Heimdal (N.D.)
00060    Opera house, Heimdal (N.D.)
00061    Opera house, Heimdal (N.D.)
00062    Opera house, Heimdal (N.D.)
00063    Opera house, Heimdal (N.D.)
00064    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00065    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00066    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00067    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00068    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00069    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00070    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00071    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00072    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00073    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00074    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00075    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00076    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00077    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00078    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00079    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00080    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00081    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00082    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00083    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00084    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00085    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00086    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00087    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00088    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00089    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00090    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00091    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00092    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00093    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00094    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00095    Opera house, Jamestown (N.D.)
00096    Opera house, Kenmare (N.D.)
00097    Opera house, Kenmare (N.D.)
00098    Opera house, Lidgerwood (N.D.)
00099    Opera house, Lidgerwood (N.D.)
00100    Opera house, Lidgerwood (N.D.)
00101    Opera house, Lidgerwood (N.D.)
00102    Opera house, Lidgerwood (N.D.)
00103    Opera house, Lidgerwood (N.D.)
00104    Opera house, Lidgerwood (N.D.)
00105    Opera house, Lidgerwood (N.D.)
00106    Opera house, Lidgerwood (N.D.)
00107    Opera house, Lidgerwood (N.D.)
00108    Opera house, Lidgerwood (N.D.)
00109    Opera house, Lidgerwood (N.D.)
00110    Opera house, Lidgerwood (N.D.)
00111    Opera house, Lidgerwood (N.D.)
00112    Opera house, Lidgerwood (N.D.)
00113    Opera house, Lidgerwood (N.D.)
00114    Opera house, Lidgerwood (N.D.)
00115    Opera house, Lidgerwood (N.D.)
00116    Opera house, Lidgerwood (N.D.)
00117    Opera house, Lidgerwood (N.D.)
00118    Opera house, Lidgerwood (N.D.)
00119    Opera house, Lidgerwood (N.D.)
00120    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00121    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00122    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00123    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00124    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00125    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00126    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00127    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00128    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00129    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00130    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00131    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00132    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00133    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00134    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00135    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00136    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00137    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00138    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00139    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00140    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00141    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00142    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00143    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00144    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00145    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00146    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00147    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00148    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00149    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00150    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00151    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00152    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00153    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00154    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00155    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00156    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00157    Opera house, Lisbon (N.D.)
00158    Opera house, Maddock (N.D.)
00159    Opera house, Maddock (N.D.)
00160    Opera house, Maddock (N.D.)
00161    Opera house, Maddock (N.D.)
00162    Opera house, Maddock (N.D.)
00163    Opera house, Maddock (N.D.)
00164    Opera house, Maddock (N.D.)
00165    Opera house, Melville (N.D.)
00166    Opera house, Melville (N.D.)
00167    Opera house, Melville (N.D.)
00168    Opera house, Millarton (N.D.)
00169    Opera house, Millarton (N.D.)
00170    Opera house, Millarton (N.D.)
00171    Opera house, Milnor (N.D.)
00172    Opera house, Milnor (N.D.)
00173    Opera house, Minto (N.D.)
00174    Opera house, Minto (N.D.)
00175    Opera house, Minto (N.D.)
00176    Opera house, Minto (N.D.)
00177    Opera house, Minto (N.D.)
00178    Opera house, Minto (N.D.)
00179    Opera house, Minto (N.D.)
00180    Opera house, Minto (N.D.)
00181    Opera house, Minto (N.D.)
00182    Opera house, Minto (N.D.)
00183    Opera house, Montpelier (N.D.)
00184    Opera house, Neche (N.D.)
00185    Opera house, Neche (N.D.)
00186    Opera house, Neche (N.D.)
00187    Opera house, Neche (N.D.)
00188    Opera house, Neche (N.D.)
00189    Opera house, New Rockford (N.D.)
00190    Opera house, New Rockford (N.D.)
00191    Opera house, New Rockford (N.D.)
00192    Opera house, New Rockford (N.D.)
00193    Opera house, New Rockford (N.D.)
00194    Opera house, Niobe (N.D.)
00195    Opera house, Niobe (N.D.)
00196    Opera house, Northwood (N.D.)
00197    Opera house, Northwood (N.D.)
00198    Opera house, Northwood (N.D.)
00199    Opera house, Northwood (N.D.)
00200    Opera house, Northwood (N.D.)
00201    Opera house, Northwood (N.D.)
00202    Opera house, Northwood (N.D.)
00203    Opera house, Northwood (N.D.)
00204    Opera house, Northwood (N.D.)
00205    Opera house, Northwood (N.D.)
00206    Opera house, Pekin (N.D.)
00207    Opera house, Velva (N.D.)          
00208    Opera house, Velva (N.D.)          
00209    Opera house, Velva (N.D.)          
00210    Opera house, Velva (N.D.)
00211    Opera house, Velva (N.D.)
00212    Opera house, Velva (N.D.)
00213    Opera house, Velva (N.D.)
00214    Opera house, Wahpeton (N.D.)
00215    Opera house, Wahpeton (N.D.)
00216    Unidentified opera house
00217    Unidentified opera house
00218    Unidentified opera house
00219    Unidentified opera house
00220    Unidentified opera house
00221    Unidentified opera house
00222    Unidentified opera house
00223    Unidentified opera house
00224    Unidentified opera house
00225    Unidentified opera house
00226    Unidentified opera house
00227    Unidentified opera house
00228    Unidentified opera house
00229    Unidentified opera house
00230    Unidentified opera house
00231    Unidentified opera house
00232    Unidentified opera house
00233    Unidentified opera house
00234    Unidentified opera house
00235    Unidentified opera house
00236    Unidentified opera house
00237    Unidentified opera house
00238    Unidentified opera house
00239    Unidentified opera house
00240    Unidentified opera house
00241    Unidentified opera house
00242    Unidentified opera house
00243    Unidentified opera house
00244    Unidentified opera house
00245    Unidentified opera house
00246    Unidentified opera house
00247    Unidentified opera house

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