The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953 Page: 163
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
There had been earlier inquiries and a variety of correspond-
ence with persons who loved or were prepared to love showboats.
But by the time the first batch of oddments could be relayed to
Iowa, the student's project had already run aground. The pro-
fessor wrote Broadside: "Thank you for the items on the show-
boat. Tucker and I were quite interested in them. He has reluc-
tantly given up his plans for a study of showboats-the material
he was running into was so sketchy and incomplete. He and
another chap are starting studies toward aptitude tests for acting."
How the aptitude tests for acting have turned out, I do not
know. But if Tucker still wonders how many showboats plied the
Ohio, Mississippi, and Wabash rivers and who ran them and
whether or not there really was a Cotton Blossom like the one
Edna Ferber wrote about (there was; there were six successive
Cotton Blossoms, but the boat she used as the model for Show-
boat actually had another name); if he ever speculates on what
"acts" and plays were offered the riverside audiences; or which
tunes the steam "cally-ope" tooted over the waters; or if he wants
the addresses of those old-time workers whom his professor men-
tioned, or cares to see pictures of the showboats and their posters,
he will find all these and more, too, in Philip Graham's new book.
If the material which Dr. Graham first found was "sketchy and
incomplete," he gives no hint of difficulties. Interviewing retired
owners and performers, thumbing through newspaper files and
personal scrapbooks, and drawing upon the scattered literature
of showboats, he has assembled the whole story-from Chapman's
Floating Theatre (built in 1831) and James Adams' Floating
Theatre (built in 1908; this was Edna Ferber's model), to the
Dixie Queen (built in 1939; presently an excursion boat).
"Instructive and moral" the first showboat programs were de-
signed to make no cheek blush. Concerts, dancing, readings, and
sundry exhibitions labeled as "museum" attractions made up
the entertainment offered audiences along the watery ways. Be-
cause the audiences were gratefully uncritical and life on a float-
ing palace seemed easy and profitable, many a smalltime crook
and medicine show rowdy took it on, so that by 1850 the repu-
tation of showboats was as low as the river mud. After the inven-
tion of the steam calliope in 1858 the popularity of the show-
Here’s what’s next.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Tools / Downloads
Get a copy of this page or view the extracted text.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953, periodical, 1953; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101145/m1/183/: accessed December 13, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.