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Jordan River Revue records, 1921-1966, bulk 1922-1933

A Guide to the Records at the Indiana University Archives

Processed by Kate Ball
Electronic finding aid encoded by Liling Tseng and Caitlin Hunter

Summary Information

Indiana University Office of University Archives and Records Management
1320 East Tenth Street
Herman B Wells Library E460
Bloomington, IN 47405-7000
Phone: 812-855-1127

Jordan River Revue.

Jordan River Revue records, 1921-1966,  bulk 1922-1933

Collection No.

1.9 cubic feet (3 boxes)

Materials are in English.

The Jordan River Revue was originally conceived as a benefit performance featuring Indiana University students to raise money for a new auditorium. Though strongest in the 1920s and 1930s, the Revue continued until 1966. Notable performers through the years included students Hoagy Carmichael and Charles "Bud" Dant. The collection consists of scrapbooks, correspondence, minutes, scripts, song lyrics, musical scores, and programs.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Advance notice is required.

Administrative History

The first Jordan River Revue was brought to fruition by Charles Hays, the superintendent of grounds and buildings and an avid supporter of drama and theatre at Indiana University. Charles Hays sought to raise money through the Memorial Fund to build a new auditorium that would accommodate full-scale theatre productions. The Jordan River Revue was conceived as a benefit performance, featuring exclusively student talent at all levels of writing, directing, and performing.

In November of 1921, Mr. Hays sought the musical assistance of student, George “Dixie” Heighway, who led a dance band with experience in theatrical productions. On 8 December 1921, they posted an advertisement for auditions in the Daily Student and created a committee to write and direct all facets of the production. The original committee consisted of Helen Coblentz, P.E. instructor and dance director; James S. Adams, writer; William Rawles, Jr., publicity manager; Katherine Rice, lyricist and costumer; and Walter Stiner, composer. The plot and script were developed as a collaborative effort between student coaches, directors, artists and composers.

Over the course of December 1921 and January 1922, numerous auditions were held resulting in 75 students being chosen as actors, dancers, singers, and musicians for the first Revue. The final cast was announced to the public on 14 February 1922, leaving approximately two weeks for rehearsal before the first performance on 2 March 1922.

The Jordan River Revue was an immediate success. It played to a full house at its premiere on 2 March 1922 in Old Assembly Hall. Due to its popularity in Bloomington, a tour to Indianapolis, Indiana, was arranged for 11 April 1922 at the Murat Theater. Rehearsal minutes from the first Jordan River Revue reveal that, as late as 8 April, the script was being rewritten and new musical numbers were being added. In addition, the Jordan River Revue was also performed during commencement weekend that same year. The performances of the 1922 Revue netted $600.00 for the Memorial Fund Drive. After graduating, bandleader Dixie Heighway went on to manage future fundraising efforts as Alumni Secretary and director of the IU Foundation.

A highlight of the 1922 Jordan River Revue was the jazz music of Hoagy Carmichael, then a student at Indiana University. His “Carmichael and Company” jazz group played in the Revue’s New York cabaret vignette. A notable associate of Carmichael, Charles “Bud” Dant, appeared in later Jordan River Revues, first as an assistant musical director and composer in 1929 and then as leading man in 1931. Bud Dant is also known for making the first transcription and arrangement of Carmichael’s famous composition “Stardust” in 1927.

Though the first Revue was produced on a $65.00 budget with a largely volunteer cast and crew and a plot designed around donated scenery, the overwhelming success of the original 1922 production won the Jordan River Revue a substantial budget for subsequent years. By 1931, the Jordan River Revue had a budget of $9,350.00 and toured throughout Indiana. In scrapbooks of the newspaper clippings of the 1931 Revue, 22 towns around Indiana featured articles about the Revue. Though the tour did not travel to all 22 localities, the Revue had gained such wide acclaim that citizens of these towns traveled to see the show in Muncie, Fort Wayne, and Indianapolis.

In October 1932, a permanent campus all-dramatics board was formed; this board combined the resources for several campus variety shows, including the Jordan River Revue and the Garrick Gaieties, to produce one professionally written production titled The University Revue. Due to the strain of the Great Depression, the Revue halted production in 1933, and the production did not tour from 1934-1937. The student-produced Jordan River Revue resumed regular production in 1938, having regained its budget from the university.

Throughout this period, the high quality of student talent remained a hallmark of the Revue. In 1940 and 1941 the script and score won the regional award for best college musical play from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).

The Revue continued through 1943, taking a 2 year hiatus during World War II. When the war ended, Dr. Lee Norvelle, director of the University Theatre, revived the Jordan River Revue for the 1945-46 school year. Incidentally, Norvelle was instrumental in realizing Charles Hays’ original goal of building a new theatre, which was completed and dedicated on 22 March 1941.

The popularity of the Jordan River Revue peaked in the 1920s and 1930s, but the Revue remained a well-loved campus institution into the 1960s. By the late 1950s, the quality of the Revue was less consistent and experimental scripts and plots proved less successful. The 1957 Revue centered round a teenager using South African voodoo in a botched attempt to fix up her coed sister’s love life. In 1958, the plot focused on a young witch who longed to become mortal and featured a ‘flying’ witch on guy-wires. Despite the Revue’s technical display, the Indiana Daily Student commented that “the lack of plot and dialog hindered the show and the resort to profanity did not bring response. It lacked subtlety.” (15 March 1958) The 1959 production returned to more traditional subject matter and was “a deluxe Jordan River Revue, which IU has sorely missed the last two years.” (IDS, 14 March 1959) The 1960 Revue looked to tradition even further by featuring a revival of the popular 1949 Jordan River Revue, The Bandmaster, rather than a new script and score.

The quality of the productions may have waned, in part, due to lack of funding. Administrative records show that in 1929, the score was commissioned from Amos Otstot for $175.00. By 1961, the compensation for both the script and score was a $100 prize from the Speech and Theatre Department. The winner of this competition, Lee Devin, produced a script satirizing student life at IU in a “corny and gaudy farce.” The “script’s highest aim was a laugh,” but it was still a success with students. (IDS, 10 March 1962) The last program in the collection dates from this 1962 production and clippings from the Indiana Daily Student also indicate that the Revue was not performed after 1962.

A 5 January 1966 IDS headline stated that “Poor scripts seal fate… Jordan River Revue’s rebirth chances bleak.” With lack of participation in the script and score writing contest, quality scripts were hard to find. Theatre professor William E. Kinzer (who co-directed the Jordan River Revue in the 1950’s) also commented that other student-produced shows and musical groups filled the place of the Jordan River Revue and that the student talent, once so vital in the Revue, had been channeled elsewhere. This collection includes a group of photographs from a Jordan River Revue in 1989, but no other further mention of a revival of the Jordan River Revue is found after 1966.


Organized into six series: Administrative files; Scene dialogues and lyrics; Sheet music; Programs and flyers; Scrapbooks and clippings; and Show files.

Scope and Content Note

This collection is comprised of six series: Administrative files; Scene dialogues and lyrics; Sheet music; Programs and flyers; Scrapbooks and clippings; and Show files.

The Administrative files series arranged first by subject and then chronologically. It contains a variety of documents on the Jordan River Revue, including minutes and history on the first Jordan River Revue of 1922; a roster of dramatic, musical, and dance directors, writers and business managers from 1922-1948; a contract with composer Amos Otstot for the score and musical accompaniment of the 1929 Revue; and tour information from the early 1930’s such as rooming arrangements and schedules. The correspondence consists primarily of correspondence relating to the care and chaperoning of the female students who participated in the Jordan River Revues. In 1932, Agnes Wells, the Dean of Women, wrote to the parents of each girl accepted to the cast to gain parental consent, assuring them that all rehearsals and trips would be chaperoned and that only girls in good academic standing were allowed to participate. The correspondence file contains copies of each of her letters and the responses from parents. Another highlight is a 1926 letter from an upset taxpayer denouncing the vulgarity and “wild recklessness” of the Jordan River Revue. The file also contains a note from 1952, unsigned but presumably from Charles Hays, presenting the original script of the first Jordan River Revue to George “Dixie” Heighway. The Financial records consist of budgetary material from the early years of the Jordan River Revue, 1925-1933. There are reports on the production costs of the Revue in 1925, 1928, 1929, 1931, 1932, and 1933, as well as some undated notes on traveling expenses.

Scene dialogues and lyrics is the next series in the collection. It features the original script for the first Jordan River Revue in 1922 and two drafts of the 1929 script of scene dialogues, a bound copy of the 1938 script, and original song lyrics for the 1922 Revue by Katherine Rice, as well as some undated hand-written lyrics. The material in this series is also arranged chronologically

Related to the Scene dialogues and lyrics series is the Sheet music series, containing the original scores and orchestrations of music for the Jordan River Revues. This series is arranged in chronological order, with one miscellaneous folder at the end that contains several items of published sheet music and hand-written pieces that are undated.

Programs and flyers is a substantial series consisting of the programs and publicity flyers for the Revues, spanning from 1922 to 1962, with a few gaps throughout these years. The programs and flyers are ordered chronologically.

The Scrapbooks and clippings series documents the Jordan River Revue. There are fragments of a 1929 scrapbook of newspaper clippings and a 1931 newspaper clipping about the Jordan River Revue. These items are filed in chronological order. The series also contains a collection of photocopied clippings from the Indiana Daily Student relating to the Jordan River Revue. They are arranged chronologically by date range.

There are also three complete scrapbooks from 1929-1931, which are housed with the archives photo collection. In addition to photographs, the complete scrapbooks for 1929-1931 contain a copy of the script of that year’s Revue and clippings from papers in all the towns through which the Revue traveled. The 1930 scrapbook contains the musical score and the 1931 file features memorabilia from the tour, such as postcards from the hotels and theatres where the Revue’s played. Please ask staff for more details on the scrapbooks housed in the photo archives.

In 2009, the Archives received a transfer of additional Jordan River Revue show files from the Department of Theatre and Drama. These show files were added to the end of the collection and consist of photographs, sheet music, programs, newspaper clippings, correspondence, scripts, and lacquer disc recordings from Revue performances spanning 1930-1960. Files are arranged chronologically.

Separated Material

4th duplication of sheet music for 1929 Jordan River Revue discarded.

3 scrapbooks of the Jordan River Revue, 1929, 1930, 1931 can be found in the Archives Photo collection. In addition to many original production photos, they also include scripts, sheet music, newspaper clippings, and memorabilia from the performances and tours of the Revue. Please ask staff for details.

Related Material

More information on Hoagy Carmichael and Bud Dant, as well photos of Dixie Heighway with Carmichael can be found in the Hoagy Carmichael Collection of the Archives of Traditional Music, available via the Digital Library Program at

More information on Dr. Lee Norvelle’s involvement with the Jordan River Revue can be found in the “Lee Roy Norvelle papers, 1929-1967,” Collection C56, at the Indiana University Archives.

Additional information on the history and development of the IU Auditorium can also be found at the Indiana University Archives in Collection C201, Indiana University Auditorium Manager's records, 1941-1946.

Materials related to the Indiana University Department of Theatre & Drama can be found at the Indiana University Archives in Collection C299, Indiana University Department of Theatre and Drama records, 1925-2012.

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information
Accession 7045
Usage Restrictions
Copyright interests for this collection have been transferred to the Trustees of Indiana University. For more information, contact the Indiana University Archivist.
Preferred Citation
[Item], Jordan River Revue records, Collection C242, Office of University Archives and Records Management, Indiana University, Bloomington.
Processing Information
Processed by Kate Ball.

Completed in 2004.

Show files series added to collection in 2009.

Series: Administrative files, 1921-1932,   undated 

Box 1 Minutes of Auditions and Rehearsals for 1922 Jordan River Review, 1921-1922 

History, 1922-1927 

Roster of Writers and Directors, 1922-1948 

Contract with Amos Otstot for Score, 1929 

Rooming Arrangements on Tours, 1931,   undated 

Girls in the Chorus of the Jordan River Review, 1931-1932,   undated 

Tour Schedule, 1932 

Correspondence, 1926-1952 

Financial Records, 1925-1933,   undated 

Series: Scene dialogues and lyrics, 1922-1938,   undated 

Box 1 Original Scene Dialogue, 1922 

Unbound Scene Dialogue, 1929 

Bound Scene Dialogue, 1929 

Revised Manuscript of Scene Dialogue, 1938 

Song Lyrics, 1922  undated 

Series: Sheet music, 1922-1947,   undated 

Box 1 Original Compositions, music by Walter Stiner / lyrics by Katherine Rice, 1922 

Original Compositions, lyrics and music by Amos Otstot & Charles “Bud” Dant, 1929 

Orchestration by Amos Otstot & Charles “Bud” Dant,



(former library copy)

Extra Parts of Orchestrations, 1929 

"Who is that Man?", music by Louis Ross, words by E. Morrison, 1953

Miscellaneous, 1923-1947,   undated 

Series: Program and flyers, 1922-1962,   undated 

Box 2 1922-1929 



1951-1962,   undated 


Series: Scrapbooks and clippings, 1928-1966 

Box 2 Scrapbook pages for Jordan River Revue, 1929 

Scrapbooks, 1929-1931

These three scrapbooks are housed in the University Archives Photographs collection. See archives staff for details about access.

Clipping, 1931 

(The dates within quotations reflect the title of each IDS Clippings File, the dates in parentheses reflect the actual date range for the articles in each folder)

IDS Clippings File,

“Jordan River Revue, 1929” (1928-1929) 

“Jordan River Revue, 1930, 1953” (1930) 

“Jordan River Revue, 1931” (1930-1931) 

“Jordan River Revue, 1932” (1931-1932) 

“Jordan River Revue, 1936” (1936) 

“Jordan River Revue, 1939” (1939-1940) 

“Jordan River Revue, 1940” (1940) 

“Jordan River Revue, 1941” (1940-1941) 

“Jordan River Revue, 1942” (1942-1943) 

“Jordan River Revue, 1943” (1943) 

“Jordan River Revue, 1945” (1945,   1947,   undated) 

“Jordan River Revue, 1948-1952” (1948-1952) 

“Jordan River Revue, The Bandmaster” (1949,   1960) 

“Jordan River Revue, 1952-1954” (1952-1954) 

“Nautical but Nice, Jordan River Revue, 1955” (1955) 

“Jordan River Revue, 1955-1958” (1955-1958) 

“Jordan River Revue, 1956-1957” (1956-1958) 

“Jordan River Revue, 1959” (1959) 

“Jordan River Revue, 1960” (1960) 

“Jordan River Revue, 1960-1962” (1962) 

“Jordan River Revue, general” (1966) 


The following three items are housed in the Photo collection, separately from the rest of the collection, please ask staff for further details.




Series: Box 3 Show Files, 1930-1960





1939,  1942 

Photos, 1939, 1947, 1949, 1951, undated



March 28-29, 1941 

"Take the Day", 1941

Devil May Care Script, 1942

Unidentified Script, 1942

Have a Heart, 1942

Have a Heart Scripts, 1942

(3 copies)

Correspondence and Miscellaneous, 1942

Two for the Show Scripts, 1946

(2 copies)

Two for the Show, 1946, undated


It's Friday, 1947


Program/Script, 1948, undated

The Bandmaster, 1948, 1949, undated

The Bandmaster, 1949

The Merry Widow, 1949

Miscellaneous, 1946, 1948, 1949, undated

Garrett Cope Revue, 1950

The Merry Widow, 1950

Spring is Here Scripts, 1951, undated

(2 copies)

Spring is Here, 1951

Alma Mater Script, 1952

Alma Mater, 1952

"Who is that Man?", 1953

Welcome to France, 1954

Nautical but Nice, 1955

Carnival Crazy, 1956

Springtime and Stephanie Script, undated

Springtime and Stephanie, 1957


Undercover, 1959


The Bandmaster, 1960

(2 folders)

Indianapolis, 1960

Photograph and script contest announcement, 1961


Roman and Rompin, 1961

Thunder over Indiana, 1962

(2 folders)


Unidentified Script, undated

Skits, undated

Beat as One, undated

1 aluminum core instantaneous recording - 10" Reeves Soundcraft lacquer disc

This item has preservation issues (exudation) and is not playable.

Love is a Marionette, undated

1 aluminum core instantaneous recording - 10" Reeves Soundcraft lacquer disc

This item has preservation issues (exudation) and is not playable.

Wherever You Go, undated

1 aluminum core instantaneous recording - 10" Reeves Soundcraft lacquer disc

This item has preservation issues (exudation) and is not playable.

J. R. Blues, undated

1 aluminum core instantaneous recording - 10" Reeves Soundcraft lacquer disc

This item has preservation issues (exudation) and is not playable.

Ladies Club Tea, undated

1 aluminum core instantaneous recording - 10" Reeves Soundcraft lacquer disc

This item has preservation issues (exudation) and is not playable.

Here I Go Again Slow, undated

1 steel core instantaneous recording - 8" Audiodisc lacquer disc

This item has severe preservation issues (delamination) and is not playable.

Here I Go Again Fast, undated

1 steel core instantaneous recording - 8" Audiodisc lacquer disc

This item has severe preservation issues (delamination) and is not playable.

J. Roger Blues, undated

1 steel core instantaneous recording - 8" Audiodisc lacquer disc

This item has severe preservation issues (delamination) and is not playable.

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