The Complete Chautauquan

The "Complete" Story

By Jeffrey Scott Maxwell

Why The Complete Chautauquan?

The Complete Chautauquan came about as the result of my personal collection of Chautauqua publications, memorabilia, and souvenirs.  The Website is called The Complete Chautauquan because I am interested in all aspects of Chautauqua -- education, entertainment, performance; the Institution, the independents, the circuits, and the modern humanities chautauquas.  It is a good place to catalog all the items that I wanted to have access to anywhere I went.  I can look to the website to see if I have a particular book, article, program, advertisment or postcard if one is offered to me for sale. Well, that is when I can keep up with updating that information.  That is one reason for the subtitle of my Home Page -- but there is another reason why I call this website "A Chautauqua Collection," and that is due to the information that I have collected here and has itself become a collection.  

The Evolution of Purpose

While I found it a great tool to keep up with my collection remotely, I also found the Website a good place to store information -- and this has ultimately become the real purpose of the website.  The Complete Chautauquan incluides a large collection of links regarding all aspects of Chautauqua -- that is, perhaps, its greatest use to me and many others who use it that way.  Another purpose that has evolved into the most important use for some readers is the collection of scholars who perform historic first person portrayals in a modern humanities Chautauqua format crosslisted with the characters they perform.  This has proven useful to scholars in networking with other scholars and organizations, namely humanities councils, and in developing new characters to portray.   This information has also proved useful to  humanities council chautauqua planning committees who have used The Complete Chautauquan resources to find characters and the scholars that perform them, as well as to help in determining the viability of a Chautauqua theme or program. The Scholars and Characters pages are the ones I have put the most time into, literally many hundreds of hours over the past year, and the ones of which I am most proud.  It is my hope that these will become the most sought after pages of any dealing with the Chautauqua theme on the Internet -- and I think they are well on their way.

Inspiration is the Spark that Makes the Work Worthwhile

A great teacher is one who inspires his or her students to act upon what they learn.  The scholars I have seen perform on the Chautauqua platform are the people I am influenced by in some way or another; the ones who have taken the time to talk to me behind the scenes and through much correspondence to help me develop a greater appreciation for their work are the ones who have inspired me.  That is why The Complete Chautauquan is dedicated to the humanities scholars who bring history to life through the modern Chautauqua format in first person portrayals on the platform and in the classroom. Thank you, to all who have contributed, and to all who have inspired.

The Chautauqua Highlight of the 2000-01 Year

I must say that the most fun I had was being able to display my collection on a couple of occasions. A trip to Waxahachie, Texas, last September was a very rewarding experience. My Chautauqua display in the hospitality tent during their one-day Chautauqua event was visited by Dr. Ross Mackenzie, the historian of the Chautauqua Institution in New York. After looking carefully over the number of items I had on display, he said, "You have the best personal collection of Chautauqua memorabilia of anyone I know." That really was a highlight for me. My collection, and my interest in Chautauqua, continues to grow.
My Interest in Chautauqua

My name is Jeffrey Maxwell. While I don't claim to be "The Complete Chautauquan," I have been called that on occasion due to the name of my Website.  It is a great title to aspire to, if I ever felt worthy of trying. Here is my story in connection with Chautauqua:

I was working on my associates degree in English as an honors scholar at Tulsa Junior College when I was lead to Chautauqua by my job and Honors Scholar Program Coordinatior Suzan Jarvis (now King). I had become a reporter for The TJC Connection, the student newspaper, partly to meet the student activity requirement of the Honors Scholar Program at TJC. By the request of Suzan King, I went the first evening to cover the Tulsa Council Chautauqua of 1994 for the newspaper -- and I never left.  I was taking a literature class that summer from Suzan King, who had John D. Anderson visit the class the week after the Chautauqua events were completed to discuss his Chautauqua character Henry James.  

Tulsa Junior College (now known as Tulsa Community College) was to continue to shape my view of Chautauqua. Also in 1994, Ted Kachel portrayed William Tecumseh Sherman and Danney Goble portrayed James Longstreet. Dr. Kachel (director of the Theater Department )and Goble (History Department) were both TJC Instructors at the time.

Later in June 1994 my wife Diane and I had the chance to go to McAlester, Oklahoma, to visit The Great Plains Chautauqua Society where Carrol Peterson, who had portrayed Walt Whitman in the Tulsa Chautauqua, shaved his beard and transformed himself into Jack London, whom he portrayed for Great Plains for the next three years. I also met in McAlester for the first time Professor Doug Watson as he portrayed Stephen Crane -- Watson later impressed audiences with his portrayal of Will Rogers, as Diane and I saw him in 2000 at both the Tulsa (Oklahoma) Council Chautauqua and the Waxahachie (Texas) Chautauqua.

By the next year, 1995, I had become interested in taking the humanities class built around Chautauqua taught by TJC Professor Cherie Hughes that year. Cherie Hughes later became a Chautauqua scholar in 1997 when she portrayed Lucy Stone in the Tulsa Council Chautauqua.

When I graduated from Tulsa Community College, I went to school at what is now known as OSU-Tulsa. That year, 1996, the decision was also made to move the Tulsa Council Chautauqua to the OSU-Tulsa campus.  I had taken a job as a clerk in the campus bookstore, and was able to handle the sales of all the books and T-shirts for Chautauqua at the event that year. Although I only worked for the bookstore a couple of years, and I now work for OSU in a different capacity -- I have continued to sell the books, T-shirts and buttons at the event each year since. A couple of years other book companies brought their own people in to sell the books, but I have always sold the T-shirts and whatever else was to be sold in support of Chautauqua. At the end of the 1996 season, Chautauqua Director Jane Hyde asked me to join the planning committee for the Tulsa Council Chautauqua.  I have worked on that committee since then.  

From the first Chautauqua event I attended I collected Chautauqua memorabilia. It was pretty casual at first, but my first serious collecting year was the one that lead up to the 2000 Tulsa Council Chautauqua. John Gentile, who portrayed Owen Wister, gave a workshop about the history of Chautauqua for which he invited me to display a collection of Chautauqua items. Also present was Paul Christensen, who portrayed Charles Goodnight that year -- Christensen was the first person who planted the idea for a website that could house my collection of information as well as provide a service to Chautauqua scholars who want to find additional work in Chautauqua-type formats. The result was The Complete Chautauquan.


Page Created 06/24/01
Copyright © 2001
By Jeffrey Scott Maxwell
Last Updated 06/28/01