Celebrating America’s Theater Legacy through the Yolande Oglesby Collection

Yolande Oglesby (1917-2012) was born in Chicago Illinois on January 13, 1917. She was the daughter of Frederick Wainwright Perkins, a wealthy architect from Chicago, and Yolande Vandeveer Perkins, whose family descended from the Vandeveer Family (one of the first families to settle in New Netherlands). At the age of 2, her family move to Morrisonville, Illinois. Two years later, the family moved to Boston and Yolande eventually enrolled in the Brimmer School near Boston College. After attending boarding schools in France and England, she and her sister returned to Boston to attend Windsor School.

Yolande participated in numerous school plays around this time, which may have later inspired her love for the theater. The Great Depression did not affect the family’s lavish lifestyle, and after graduating from high school Yolande moved to New York City and traveled to Europe often. Throughout the 1930s and 40s, she attended many high- and low-brow theatrical and musical productions in Chicago, Boston and New York.

The Yolande Oglesby Theater Programs and Kitty Cheatham Papers were donated to the University’s Music and Performing Arts Library in December 1996, and the collection was later transferred to the Sousa Archives in 2019. The collection consists of personal papers, sheet music, photographs, and theater playbills collected by Kitty Cheatham between 1917-1920 and Yolande Oglesby between 1930 and 1970. The collection provides colorful visual and textual documentation of diverse vaudeville and Ziegfeld Follies programs featuring Eddie Cantor, W. C. Fields, Ed Wynn, Al Jolson, Rudee Vallee, and Ethel Merman. In addition, many playbills include premieres and early off-Broadway runs of musicals and operas by Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein, Frank Loesser, Lew Brown, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, Sigmund Romberg, Victor Herbert, George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, Gian Carlo Menotti, Kurt Weill, Marc Blitzstein, Leonard Bernstein, and Meredith Wilson.

For further information about this unique collection please visit the The Yolande Oglesby Theater Programs and Kitty Cheatham Papers finding aid.


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