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Fine Arts, Theatre

Identifier: Temp-USD-005

Scope and Contents

The Printed Material series contain correspondence, posters, programs, news clippings and various ephemera from the University of South Dakota theatre department. There are also materials pertaining to the Vermillion Community Theatre, the South Dakota Performing Arts Company, and the Black Hills Playhouse.

Photograph Series A contains photographs from theatre productions.

Photograph Series B contains photographs that have been segregated from Photograph Series A because of photograph deterioration.

The Oversized Material series contain posters, stage designs/sketches, and various ephemera from the University of South Dakota theatre department.

The Negatives series contain images from the University of South Dakota theatre department. They are stored in our sub-zero storage facility.


  • Creation: 1938 - 2009
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1938 - 2001


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research without restriction. Researchers are advised to contact the Archives and Special Collections prior to visiting. Advance notice may be needed to retrieve items for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers must obtain a signed Permission to Publish Form if they wish to reproduce, broadcast, or otherwise disseminate information from published and unpublished works held by ASC. Permission to reproduce, broadcast, or otherwise disseminate information materials from ASC does not constitute permission from the holder of copyright or literary rights. The researcher is responsible for securing permission from the copyright holder to publish or reproduce content from materials found in the collections.

Biographical / Historical

Theatre at the University of South Dakota had its beginnings as early as 1882. Theatre activities at that time were part of extra-curricular groups such as the Mask and Wig Club, Theta Alpha Phi and then later as part of Latin, French, Greek and elocution classes. It was not until 1911, that the first official theatre class The Department Play was offered by the English department.

Before the completion of Slagle Auditorium in 1925, theatre productions were performed at the city theatre, the outdoor theatre or on the Chapel stage. Once Slagle Auditorium was designated as the official site for theatre performances, property shops were still located separately from the theatre in the basement of Old Main.

In 1931, the Colleges of Music, Dramatic Arts and Art were combined to create the College of Fine Arts. Everett M. Schreck from Yale University was hired the following year as the University of South Dakota’s first full time theatre instructor and two years following in the summer of 1934, Florence T. Wyman graduated with the first Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in the Dramatic Arts. Requirements at that time for a Dramatic Arts major were 24 credit hours in history, play writing, and various theatre workshops.

In 1946, the Black Hills Playhouse (BHP) was established and in the following year it became an official branch of the department. Students could earn 10 credit hours during the summer in drama. In 1948, Warren M. Lee’s production of The Legend of Devil’s Gulch premiered at the Black Hills Playhouse. The Black Hills Playhouse was located at a former Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp, which is still utilized to this day. 1956 marked the year a new theatre building opened, and the BHP celebrated their thousandth performance with Our Town in the summer of 1961.

For many years, the College of Fine Arts, including theatre, was scattered between as many as eight buildings. Dean Warren M. Lee lobbied to build a facility for fine arts. Finally, in 1970, construction of a fine arts center was approved, and the Warren M. Lee Center for the Fine Arts was completed in 1973. Tartuffe was the first play to be performed in the new building, October 3-6, 1974.


8 Linear Feet ((12 document boxes, one of which is legal width; 2 oversize flat boxes) )

Language of Materials



This collection contains material from the Theatre Department at the University of South Dakota.


The collection is comprised of five series: Printed Material, Photograph Series A, Photograph Series B, Oversized Material, and Negatives.

The five series are arranged by the theatre productions themselves, season and then in order of production.

Fine Arts, Theatre
Sarah Hanson and Leah Keating
2003, 2007, and 2009
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the USD Archives and Special Collections Repository