Provenance: The Ohio Historical Society acquired the Players Club of Columbus (Ohio) Photograph Collection as a gift of the club through the auspices of the club president, Cole Jackson, in October 1973. Kathleen McIntyre Conway processed the collection in December 1973.
Property rights: The Ohio Historical Society owns the property rights to this collection.
Copyrights: The club has dedicated such copyrights as it possesses in this collection to the public. Consideration of all other copyrights is the responsibility of the author and publisher.
Access: This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the Ohio Historical Society.
Citation: Researchers are requested to cite collection name, collection number, and the Ohio Historical Society in all footnote and bibliographic references.
Historical sketch: The Players Club of Columbus (Ohio), founded by Agnes Jeffrey Shedd and five colleagues in March 1923, initially served as a vehicle through which members produced plays for the entertainment of other members. Membership for the first year totaled 350 and the club converted the Joyce Barn, 470 Capital Street, into a theatre by adding a stage, dressing rooms, and seats. At first the club produced primarily one act plays and occasionally an original script until 1925 when it presented a three-act play, You and I, and in 1928, its first musical, H.M.S. Pinafore. Also during the 1920s, the club added experimental plays and informal performances, known as "informals." By 1928, the club outgrew its original building and moved to 549 Franklin Avenue, where it remains today.
Although the club's membership declined during the Depression, its activities expanded, including the establishment of an education program with classes in scenic design, make-up, and play writing. Formal classes ceased during the war years, replaced by informal roundtable discussions of backstage problems.
From 1924 to 1928, Stokes McCune served as managing director of the club. Upon his death, Roy Bowen took over and remained with the club until 1958. During his tenure, Bowen resumed the formal classes, formed an experimental theatre group, and expanded the physical plant. Membership peaked at 1800 in the 1950s and the club lengthened the run of each production to accommodate the growing audiences. Robert D. Richey replaced Bowen in 1958, and remained as managing director until 1962. Under Richey the club performed its first Shakespearean play, Richard III. Membership declined during these years with the establishment of competitive little-theatre groups throughout the Columbus area.
The Players Club remained without a managing director during the 1963/64 and 1964/65 seasons which caused a curtailment of many activities. Gerald L. Ness became managing director in 1965 and under his leadership the club expanded its activities to reach the general public. A women's guild, formed in 1965, also served as a fund raising group for the club.
Scope and content: The Players Club of Columbus (Ohio) Photograph Collection consists of 810 black and white and four color photographs, spanning the years from 1923 to 1972 and occupying one cubic foot. The photographs are various sizes with the majority being either 8"x10" publicity shots or snapshots.
The collection is organized into three series: plays, backstage scenes, and buildings and members. Series I, plays, is arranged chronologically by season and thereunder by the plays presented during that season. Images primarily depict stage settings or scenes from each play. Items of note include Agnes Jeffrey Shedd in costume for The Minuet, 1926/27; and oversize photographs of the characters in The Truth, 1933-34 (OVS 900), The Girl From Wyoming, 1941-42 (OVS 211), and from the 1954/55 production of MY Three Angels (OVS 212). Photographs from unidentified plays follow those with titles and illustrate similar stage settings and scenes.
The backstage scenes contained in Series II include pictures of club members applying make-up, designing scenery, and working on lighting. Series III, buildings and members, contains pictures of the Joyce Barn and the club's present theatre on Franklin Avenue. Other photographs record the dedication of the Agnes Jeffrey Shedd gallery at the club, club "informals," opening nights, and audiences. Pictures of members comprise those in character and costume including an unidentified shot of two players (OVS 213); of group rehearsals and parties; and portraits including those of Agnes Jeffrey Shedd, Roy Bowen, Stokes McCune, and Gail Pike in costume (OVS 214).