At the Library of Congress: a collection of brochures and programs from the Redpath Lyceum Bureau
, a talent agency for Chautauqua performers.
The Chautauqua movement began at Lake Chautauqua in upstate New York in 1874. Inspired by the earlier Lyceum movement
, it was founded by a businessman, Lewis Miller, and a Methodist minister, John Heyl Vincent, to train Sunday school teachers; it quickly expanded to become an educational summer camp for families. Thirty years later, the Chautauqua tent circuit began, sending performers around the country for Chautauqua assemblies of three to seven days. The assemblies were a mixture of entertainment and uplift: inspirational speakers, musicians, actors, novelty acts—all of them suitable for God-fearing family folks. The circuit faded away in the first years of the Depression. The original Chautauqua continues, “a summer camp for all ages, especially for those who believe learning is a life long experience” (Debbie Porter, “Chautauqua
Chautauqua Institution. “About Chautauqua
”. Chautauqua, NY: Chautauqua Institution, 2004. —The original.
Waxahachie Chautauqua Preservation Society. [Home Page]
. Waxahachie, Texas. —The Waxahachie Chautauqua Auditorium, a 2500-seat octagonal wooden assembly hall, was built in June 1902 at a cost of $2750 (about $58,000 now). Chautauqua Assemblies still go on: the 2004 Assembly, held on 25 September, was entitled “Chautauqua Celebrates Water
”, and true to its tradition, it included informative addresses, music (Irish and light classics), and a bit of uplift.