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Prior and Norris Vaudeville Troupe Photographs and Ephemera, 1886-1915

Cora Youngblood Corson in various dramatic poses, Feb. 22, 1915
Cora Youngblood Corson in various dramatic poses, 1915

Pat Prior and his wife/partner Effie May Norris formed the vaudeville team of Prior and Norris, and later, with their daughter as the third member, were known as The Prior Trio. The couple spent the latter part of the 19th century and the early 20th century touring around the United States performing on the vaudeville circuits. The 230 photographs and ephemera from The Prior and Norris Troupe Collection document not only their performances, but additional vaudeville performers and acts of the late 1800s and early 1900.

From its humble beginnings in the music hall and barroom shows of the mid 1800s, vaudeville, a collection of variety acts consisting of songs, dances, acrobatic and other novelty performances, became one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the United States from the turn of the century until the 1930s. By 1919, there were reported to be more than 900 vaudeville theaters across the country, each theater playing as many as eight or nine acts per day. The industry employed thousands of individuals at any given time. For most of these performers, it was not any easy life. Poor pay coupled with the pressures of itinerant life, produced an industry whose turnover rate was as high as 70% per year. Although the majority of these performers remained obscure, many successful comedians began their careers by playing the vaudeville circuits including W.C. Fields, Jack Benny, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Bob Hope, and the Marx Brothers.

The collection includes photographs and ephemera relating to the career of Pat Prior and Effie Norris and the history of vaudeville. This includes images of friends and colleagues of Prior and Norris, identified and unidentified vaudeville performers of the late 1800s and early 1900, publicity postcards, and vaudeville stage productions, the most significant being Fanchon and Marco.

About the Database

The information about the Prior and Norris Troupe Collection was researched and prepared by the UW Libraries Special Collections Division and Cataloging staff in 2002. Most all of the photographs and ephemera from the collection were included in this database. The images were scanned from original photographic prints or textual material in grayscale or color using a Microtek Scanmaker 9600L and saved in .jpg format. Some manipulation of the images was done to present the clearest possible digital image. The scanned images were then linked with descriptive data using the CONTENTdm software suite. The original collection resides in the UW Libraries Special Collections Division as the Prior and Norris Troupe Collection no. 583.

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