Lavinia Miriam Schaeffer was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on January 8, 1903. Her name was changed from Delara Melquist when she was adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Frank Schaeffer on September 4, 1903. A graduate of Yankton College in South Dakota, Schaeffer earned her M.A. at Northwestern University and came to Bates to teach speech and theater in the fall of 1938. A stylish presence on the tweedy New England campus, Schaeffer directed some 100 major productions during her career, with an emphasis on Shakespeare and a perfectionist's eye for planning, details, and execution. She maintained unwavering confidence in her actors, and within this creatively safe environment they gave their best to the professor they called "the Schaeff." In return she gave them her interest in their lives both inside and outside the Bates theater. A discussion with Miss Schaeffer, one student wrote, always ended with relief "because she had received us." For most of her career Schaeffer worked in Hathorn's aptly named Little Theatre, and in 1972 Bates' theater on College Street, built in 1960, was named in her honor. She died in July 1978.
The collection includes photographs of Schaeffer as a child and as an adult; clippings related to her work at Bates College as a Professor of Drama and Speech; legal records, including her adoption certificate and will; as well as some miscellaneous personal items.
The collection is arranged in alphabetical order by folder title.
The collection is open for research.
The collection is the physical property of Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library. Bates College holds literary rights only for material created by College personnel working on official behalf of the College, or for material which was given to the College with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication or other purposes that exceed fair use.
These records are indexed under the following headings in the Bates College Library catalog. Researchers wishing to find related materials should search the catalog under these index terms.
Schaeffer, Lavinia Miriam, 1903-1978--Archives
Bates College (Lewiston, Me.)--Faculty
Drama--Study and teaching (Higher)--Maine--Lewiston--History
Speech--Study and teaching (Higher)--Maine--Lewiston--History
Theater--Stduy and teaching (Higher)--Maine--Lewiston--History
Gift of Nancy Wright, 2004. Ms. Wright received the material from Marjorie Buck, a relative, Bates Class of 1937, and executor of Schaeffer's estate. Accession No.: 04-031.
Lavinia Schaeffer papers, Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, Bates College.
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