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Dec 9, 2022
Manuscripts – MSS 77 – Hughes Memorial Theatre
King Jordan Student Academic Center 1255
MSS 77 – Hughes Memorial Theatre
Collection of Hughes Memorial Theatre, 1959-1986
Gallaudet University Archives
Repository: Gallaudet University Archives
Call No.: MSS 77
Title: Collection of Hughes Memorial Theatre, 1959-1986
Quantity: 3.0 Linear Feet (6 document boxes)
Note: This document last updated 2005 December 13.
Acquisition Information: Sarah E. Val gave the Hughes Memorial Theatre Collection to the Gallaudet University Archives. The gift was made on July 18, 1989.
Processed by: Arlene Blumenthal Kelly. 1996 August 6.
Processing Note: Revised by Michael J. Olson. 2001 April 2.
Conditions on Use and Access: This collection is open to the public with no restrictions. Photocopies may be made for scholarly research.
Related Material in the Archives:
The Frederick H. Hughes Memorial Theatre, also called “Washington’s Little Theatre of the Deaf”, was organized on June 15, 1966 by Betty G. Miller and a group of fifteen deaf people. It was originally called the Dramatics Guild of the District of Columbia Club of the Deaf.
Douglas Burke founded the Dramatics Guild in 1959. He directed the first play called, “The Monkey’s Paw” and second play, “Salome”, and third play, “The Good Peddler”. These plays were performed at the D. C. C. D. clubhouse on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. The fourth play, “Charley Aunt” was performed in the Chapel Hall of Gallaudet College with Gilbert C. Eastman and Charles Schreiber as the directors.
The Dramatics Guild’s first president, Alice Hagemeyer, presided from 1959 to 1960. Carol Rush was the first recording secretary and Ted Hagemeyer, the treasurer.
Over the years, the Dramatics Guild gave several performances in the D. C. area. There was a citywide tournament sponsored a One-Act play in 1962 and they invited the Dramatics Guild to enter the contest. The Dramatics Guild performed “Lithuania” and Betty G. Miller directed, winning third place, while Ralph Miller won a medal for the best performer.
The Dramatics Guild presented variety and Christmas shows from 1959 to 1964. The first Chairperson was Mrs. Beatrice Burke.
In 1966 the name “Dramatics Guild of the D. C. C. D.” was changed to “Hughes Memorial Theatre”. The founders of the new organization had originally been members of the Dramatics Guild, recognizing the need for an independent amateur theatre of the deaf.
The charter was developed primarily to provide entertainment, such as drama, pantomime, revues, etc, for deaf and hearing people in the Washington metropolitan area. Also, the Hughes Memorial Theatre’s aim was to encourage the development of the cultural and theatrical skills of deaf people.
The Hughes Memorial Theatre was officially incorporated as a non-profit organization on June 12, 1969, with meetingsheld in the Hall Memorial Building on the campus of Gallaudet College between 1966 and 1969. On August 6, 1969 they were given a space for use in Kendall Hall on the campus until in the mid 1970s.
The Hughes Memorial Theatre presented many plays from 1966 until the last play was performed in 1982. They produced two major plays during each season, in fall and spring. They also competed in the One-Act Play Tournament, sponsored by the District of Columbia’s Department of Recreation, every spring, winning several awards.
In 1980 the Hughes Memorial Theatre produced and directed an extremely well received play, “Tales from a Clubroom,” and the last play, “Oh, Stop! Oh, Stop!” was performed for the Gallaudet College alumni reunion during the summer of 1982.
Scope and Content
The Hughes Memorial Theatre Collection consists of:
Douglas Burke established the Dramatics Guild of the District of Columbia Club of the Deaf in 1959. In 1966, Elizabeth G. Miller and a group of interested deaf people organized the Frederick H. Hughes Memorial Theatre to honor the drama teacher at Gallaudet College.
The collection, consisting of approximately 5,100 pages, dates from 1959 to 1986, and the bulk consists of scripts performed by the Hughes Memorial Theatre.
These plays were performed in the District of Columbia metropolitan area between 1959 and 1982 and involved many of the alumni of Gallaudet University and local deaf people.
The most interesting item in the collection is a letter from Patricia Nixon, wife of President Richard Nixon, for her acceptance as an honorary board of members of the Hughes Memorial Theatre.
Series 1: Dramatics Guild of the D. C. C. D. File
The Dramatics Guild of the D. C. C. D. was founded in 1959. In this series are correspondence, constitution and by laws, reports, flyers, history, and program books. Included in this collection contains a short history of the organization.
Series 2: Hughes Memorial Theatre File
In this collection consists of correspondence, constitution and by laws, memorandums, certificates, announcements, minutes, clippings, program books and reports. These are general file of the organization. A history of the theatre is included.
Series 3: Plays File
Included in this collection are scripts of the plays, flyers, reviews, previews, articles, program books and financial reports. This collection is the largest file related to the plays performed by the Hughes Memorial Theatre.
Gallaudet University, chartered in 1864, is a private university for deaf and hard of hearing students.
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