Vaudeville in Seattle – the Orpheum Theatres

Moore Theatre - Orpheum Circuit, Oct. 1922

Before television and the internet, there was vaudeville.  Seattle, like much of the rest of the country, had several competing vaudeville theaters throughout the early twentieth century, including a string of Orpheum Theatres.  Carl Reiter, manager of Orpheum Theatres in Seattle, as well as in Omaha and Portland, kept scrapbooks of newspaper clippings and ephemera, like the program below,  from and about the theaters he managed. He included reviews, interviews and stories about the Orpheum’s and its competitors’ acts, including such luminaries as Sarah Bernhardt, Harry Houdini, and Marie and Alice Lloyd. There are also advertisements, programs, notes (in both English and Chinese) in the margins, and other ephemera.

Orpheum Circuit News and Program, Sept. 1916

Reiter’s  Orpheum Circuit Scrapbooks, sixteen volumes in all, date from 1904 to 1924.  Clippings about Seattle’s Orpheum, Moore, and Alhambra Theatres, are predominant, but there are a couple of volumes dedicated to the Orpheum Theatres of Omaha and St. Joseph, Nebraska and Portland, Oregon.

Image credits:

  • Moore Theatre, Orpheum Circuit Advertisment, October 4, 1922, Orpheum Circuit Scrapbooks (PN 1968.W2 .R45 1904), vol. 15.
  • Orpheum Circuit News and Program, September 1916, Orpheum Circuit Scrapbooks (PN 1968.W2 .R45 1904), vol. 11.

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I started working in Special Collections this fall as a cataloging assistant. I do bibliographical and biographical research for the Pacific Northwest Collection and children's books. In my spare time, I am working toward another degree, and researching and writing about the Middle Ages.

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