The Traveling Chautauqua

Caravans of Culture in Early 20th Century America


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About the Book

Before radio and sound movies, early 20th century performers and lecturers traveled the nation providing entertainment and education to Americans thirsty for culture. These “chautauquas” brought politicians, activists, scholars, musical ensembles and theatrical productions to remote communities. A conduit for global perspectives and progressive ideas, these gatherings introduced issues like equal suffrage, prohibition and pure food laws to rural America.
This book explores an overlooked yet influential movement in U.S. history, capturing the vagaries of speakers’ and performers’ lives on the road and their reception by audiences. Excerpts from lectures and plays portray a vibrant circuit that in a single summer drew 20 million in more than 9,000 towns.

About the Author(s)

Roger E. Barrows has taught humanities at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida, for over two decades and has worked extensively with young people at Northeast Music Camp and the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York.

Bibliographic Details

Roger E. Barrows
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 233
Bibliographic Info: 55 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7773-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3714-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Prologue 4
1. Great American Road Trip 7
2. Hyacinths for the Soul 27
3. Song of the Open Road 41
4. A Platform and a Passion 57
5. That ­Old-Time Religion 79
6. Heart to Heart 91
7. This Is Business 154
Epilogue 169
Appendix A: “I Am What I Am” 179
Appendix B: Chautauqua Towns on a Single Circuit, 1922 181
Appendix C: Summer Schedule for Two Circuits 183
Appendix D: “What I Saw on the 1913 ­Redpath-Horner Chautauquas: As the Humorist Saw It,” by Charles T. Griffey, of Rogers & Griffey, Entertainers 186
Appendix E: “Seeing Texas and Oklahoma,” by Father D. J. Cronin 189
Appendix F: “You Are in This for Money,” by J. R. Teagarden, Division Superintendent, Redpath-Horner System 192
Appendix G: “Chautauqua,” by Charles R. Taggart 194
Appendix H: Chautauqua Plays 198
Chapter Notes 202
Bibliography 212
Index 219