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H. Preston Magruder Materials

Identifier: MC 1551

Scope and Content Note

The collection is divided into three series. The first series consists of materials related to the life of Preston Magruder, including his experiences as a student in Oklahoma and Arkansas; his service during the Second World War; and his tenure as an instructor and professor at Tarkio College and the University of Arkansas. The second series is comprised of materials relating to the theater arts profession, including materials concerning University of Arkansas alumnus Laurence Luckinbill, modern dance pioneer Ted Shawn, and British actor Patrick Waddington. Materials also include playbills from plays produced in England during World War II, as well as plays produced in northwest Arkansas. Also included are playbills and other materials pertaining to theater at the University of Arkansas, dating 1939-1994. The third series includes photographs, slides, and scrapbooks. Subjects include Preston, his family, and friends; his service in World War II; photographs taken during several tours of Europe; and photographs of Tarkio College and University of Arkansas theater productions. The scrapbooks, which consist primarily of photographs, document theater productions at the University of Arkansas in 1937-1940, and at Tarkio College in 1948-1949.

Materials in the collection include correspondence, certificates, playbills, and other papers. Included are copies of Walter Lemke's Journalism Newsletter dating 1944-1945. The collection includes two "yearbook" albums produced by the United States Army Air Force, one for Walnut Ridge Basic Flying School (undated but ca. 1942-1943) in Lawrence County, Arkansas, and the other for Cochran Field near Macon, Georgia, dated 1942. The collection includes more than 4,500 photographs, slides, and negatives. The collection also includes plaques celebrating various honors awarded to Magruder. Stony Mead: A Sketch by Katherine Glass Greene (1929), detailing Magruder's Campbell family ancestors, has been removed and incorporated into Special Collections' Arkansas Collection.


  • 1901-1995


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Access Information

Please call (479) 575-8444 or email at least two weeks in advance of your arrival to ensure availability of the materials.

Use Information

No Use Restrictions Apply.

No Interlibrary Loan.

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Biographical Note

Henry Preston Magruder, commonly called Preston, was born on January 21, 1918, at Inola, Oklahoma, the son of Henry Campbell and Marteen Pyeatte Magruder. Preston attended local schools, graduating in 1935. He attended Northeastern State College in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, before transferring to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville for the fall semester, 1937. An art major, he pledged Sigma Chi fraternity, graduating with a Bachelors of Arts in 1939. He spent the following two years teaching in Cane Hill and Decatur high schools in Arkansas. With the onset of the Second World War Magruder joined the United States Army Air Force. While in the states he served as a staff sergeant with the 324th Base Headquarters and Air Base Squadron at the Walnut Ridge Army Air Field in Lawrence County, Arkansas. By 1944 he had transferred to England, where he worked with depot units of the Eighth Army Air Force. He remained in England until November 1945, when he was discharged from the service.

Magruder's experiences in England helped fulfill an earlier desire. He had been interested in theater since he was a child, and in both Oklahoma and Arkansas had acted in and helped produce school plays. While in England he was stationed sixty miles from London, which he visited on a regular basis, attending plays and touring historic sites. There the "theater bug" bit him, and he determined to be involved in the theater after the war, not as an actor but as a director and producer. Returning to the United States, in 1946 he enrolled in theater courses at the University of Arkansas in preparation for graduate study. He also made a trip to Jacob's Pillow near Becket, Massachusetts, to learn dance from modern dance pioneer Ted Shawn. He later enrolled in the graduate theater program at State University of Iowa in Iowa City, graduating in 1948 with a Master of Arts degree in theater. In 1948-1949 he taught at Tarkio College in Tarkio, Missouri.

Beginning with the fall semester 1949, Magruder worked at the University of Arkansas as an instructor of Drama; he also served as business manager of the theater. In 1952 he was promoted to assistant professor and technical director of the University Theater, and in 1956 he was promoted to associate professor. Afterwards he attended the University of Denver in Colorado, where he completed his Doctor of Education degree in 1958. Returning to the University of Arkansas, he was promoted to the rank of full professor in 1964, and served as chairman of the Department of Speech and Dramatic Arts in 1968-1969. By 1976 he had been involved in the production of more than 175 different theatrical productions. However, health problems forced him to resign his duties with the theater, and he turned to teaching and advising students full time. He remained at the university until his retirement in 1983. A life-long bachelor, he died April 18, 1995, and was interred at Prairie Grove Cemetery.


4.5 Linear Feet (5 boxes)

Arrangement of the Papers

Materials are arranged and described in three series:

  1. Series: Personal Materials
  2. Series: Theater Arts
  3. Series: Images, Scrapbooks, and Artifacts

Acquisition Information

The H. Preston Magruder Materials were acquired by Special Collections from the estate of Dr. Preston Magruder in 1995. In addition, Richard G. Rea of Fayetteville, Arkansas, donated several related photograph albums to Special Collections on July 15, 2004.

Processing Information

Processed by Todd E. Lewis; completed in May 2007.



H. Preston Magruder Materials
Todd E. Lewis
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Department Repository

University of Arkansas Libraries
365 N. McIlroy Avenue
Fayetteville AR 72701 United States
(479) 575-8444