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Wilderness Road Drama Collection



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Administrative Information

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Scripts and Music


Fundraising and Publicity

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Wilderness Road Drama Collection | Berea College Special Collections and Archives Catalog

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Collection Overview

Title: Wilderness Road Drama CollectionAdd to your cart.

Predominant Dates:1942-1980

ID: RG 11/11.04

Primary Creator: Berea College

Extent: 8.0 Linear Feet


The collection is arranged by series:

Series 1: Correspondence - The first box of this series contains correspondence primarily by Dr. Weatherford, in the early stages of the production between the years 1952-54.  It is arranged in chronological and alphabetical order so the progression of the drama can be seen more clearly.  The remaining correspondence is arranged alphabetically.

Throughout the material there is correspondence with the drama and trustee committee members consisting of Dr. Weatherford, Edwin Price, T. J. Wood, William Dean Embree, Elmer Gabbard, Barry Bingham, Sr., E. S. Dabney and L. D. Bibee.  Also included is correspondence with Paul Green, the playwriter, Sam Selden, director, John Lippard, theater architect and Ted Cronk, business manager.

The correspondence between the years 1955-58 deals mostly with items pertaining to the actual production of the drama.  It contains material concerning publicity, ticket sales, attendance, sponsored trips of students to drama, lighting and sound systems, printing companies and information about the theater gift shop. In addition, there is a folder of congressional and legislative correspondence.  In 1955 Berea College was honored in its centennial year with a bill passed by both the U.S. Congress and the State Legislature commemorating the event.  Finally, there is fragmented correspondence between the years 1974-80 and includes a statement on the closing of Wilderness Road by President Willis Weatherford, Jr.

Series 2: Photographs - This series contains photographs of performances of Wilderness Road in both runs of the drama.  They are arranged alphabetically by subject and contain photos of the drama, cast, staff and promotional shots.  The photos between 1955 and 1958 are fairly complete however, photos of the second run are fragmented and span only the years 1972 to 1974.  All prints are black and white. Slides are also included in this series.  The slides span the years 1972-77 and are not in order.  Numerous slides are undated.

Series 3 : Scripts and Music - This series consists of the working and final scripts of Wilderness Road.  Also included is a continuity layout and personal essay on John Freeman by Paul Green. The original musical score of the drama as arranged by Gilbert Pirovano in 1955 and Rolf Hovey, John Courter and Gladys Jameson in 1972 is also included.  Two folders contain fragmented sheet music of various years; however; one folder is complete in order of song appearance except for the number “What Is the Soul of Man.”

Series 4 : Artifacts - This series contains Paul Green’s George Washington medal which he received for Wilderness Road in 1955 because it fostered “. . . a better understanding of the American way of life.”  In addition there is an official Wilderness Road stamp, print cut of a scene in the play, and a “Wilderness Road” award certificate.

Series 5: Fund Raising and Publicity - This series consists of fund raising and publicity materials including television and radio reports, press releases, newspaper reviews, and a comprehensive promotional plan for the 1958 season.

There are also records of inventories, sales and orders for the craft shop along with daily attendance, ticket sales, and yearly budgets for the production.  Trustee and drama committee reports and minutes exist along with contracts, resolutions, and schedules of events surrounding the play. A complete set of souvenir books, programs and brochures through the years 1955-80 are also included along with magazine articles.  Newspaper clippings during the first run are arranged alphabetically by newspaper title along with nine other scrapbooks of clippings.  Additional clippings of the first run and the second can be found in the College vertical files.  A set of publicity posters used during the play’s second run completes the series.

Subjects: Berea, (Ky.), Berea College, Berea College -- Trustees, Green, Paul -- 1894-1981 -- Wilderness road, Indian Fort Theatre, Kentucky -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Drama., Theater, Open-air -- Kentucky., United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Songs and music., Weatherford, Willis D. (Willis Duke), -- 1875-1970.

Languages: English


Wilderness Road, an outdoor symphonic drama, was commissioned by Berea College to help commemorate the school’s centennial celebration in the summer of 1955.  The drama was written by Pulitzer prize-winning author, Paul Green, who also authored The Common Glory, The Lost Colony, and The Stephen Foster Story. Green received the Freedom Foundation’s George Washington Medal for Wilderness Road in 1955. Described as a “parable for modern times,” the drama depicts the life of two mountain brothers, John and Davy Freeman, during the years preceding the Civil War.  John is an educated idealist, who wants to set up a school for interracial education in the mountain community.  Davy, like most of the other people of the community, is pro-Southern. The two brothers eventually become enemies at the outbreak of the war.

The drama ran for four summers at Indian Fort Theater, designed by John Lippard, and built in the Berea College Forest.  This was the first outdoor theater in Kentucky and the only outdoor drama in the country sponsored by a college.  The drama was discontinued after 1958 due to financial difficulties and lessened support.  However, in 1972, it was revived under the auspices of President Willis D.Weatherford, Jr., until 1980, when it was discontinued due to financial difficulties.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This collection contains correspondence regarding the creation, production and publicity of Paul Green?s symphonic drama Wilderness Road; photographs of both runs (1950s and 1970s) of the production in Berea, Kentucky; working and final scripts and musical scores; and artifacts, ephemera, scrapbooks, programs, brochures, fund raising and publicity materials from both runs of the production.

Collection Historical Note

Dr. Willis D. Weatherford, Sr., was the principle coordinator of the drama. His goals for the production were to preserve Appalachian culture, expose Appalachian culture to the rest of the country and dispel any misconceptions about that culture or its people.  Weatherford also hoped that by bringing Appalachian elementary and high school students to view the drama, it would instill in them pride of their heritage, show them the importance of education, and make them strive to attain such educational ideals.

Subject/Index Terms

Berea, (Ky.)
Berea College
Berea College -- Trustees
Green, Paul -- 1894-1981 -- Wilderness road
Indian Fort Theatre
Kentucky -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Drama.
Theater, Open-air -- Kentucky.
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Songs and music.
Weatherford, Willis D. (Willis Duke), -- 1875-1970.

Administrative Information

Repository: Berea College Special Collections and Archives Catalog

Access Restrictions: Records can be accessed through the Reading Room, Berea College Special Collections and Archives, Hutchins Library, Berea College.

Use Restrictions: There are no restrictions placed on this collection other than federal copyright regulations.

Preferred Citation: [Object identification], RG 11.04: Wilderness Road Drama Collection, Berea College Special Collections & Archives, Berea, KY.

Finding Aid Revision History: The collection finding aid was updated in December 2015.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Correspondence],
[Series 2: Photographs],
[Series 3: Scripts and Music],
[Series 4: Artifacts],
[Series 5: Fundraising and Publicity],

Series 3: Scripts and MusicAdd to your cart.
Box 5Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Indian Fort TheaterAdd to your cart.
Folder 2: Continuity LayoutAdd to your cart.
Folder 3: Paul Green's description of John FreemanAdd to your cart.
Folder 4: Description of dramaAdd to your cart.
Folder 5: Tryout scriptAdd to your cart.
Folder 6: Working script and personnelAdd to your cart.
Folder 7: Working script and personnel IIAdd to your cart.
Folder 8: Original scriptAdd to your cart.
Box 6Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Musical score (partially complete), 1955Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Musical score  (partially complete), 1972Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Musical score (complete except for: What is the Soul of Man)Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Production script with cuesAdd to your cart.
Folder 5: Musical score, miscellaneousAdd to your cart.
Folder 6: Chorus membership applicationsAdd to your cart.
Folder 7: Paul Green, Manuscript, BoundAdd to your cart.
Folder 8: Paul Green, Original Author Manuscript CopyAdd to your cart.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Correspondence],
[Series 2: Photographs],
[Series 3: Scripts and Music],
[Series 4: Artifacts],
[Series 5: Fundraising and Publicity],

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