Special Collections Department
Nixon – Nirdlinger
Manuscript Collection Number: 431
Accessioned: Gift of Moyerman Family
Extent: 1 volume (.3 linear ft.)
Content: Ephemera, menus, tickets, receipts, telegrams, handbills, newspapers,
souvenir programs, train schedules, broadsides, advertisements, postcards,
pamphlets, maps, trade cards, and calling cards.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: Sally W. Donatello, November 2001
Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
Table of Contents
Frederick (Fred) G. Nixon-Nirdlinger (1877 – 1931) lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where his father, Samuel F. (Nirdlinger) Nixon was a well-known entrepreneur and partner in the Nixon & Zimmerman theatrical firm. Nixon- Nirdlinger, who followed in his father’s professional footsteps, was the manager of the Park and People’s Theatres in Philadelphia. Among theatrical properties that he leased and purchased was the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. Nixon-Nirdlinger married Miss Birch (Burch) and had two children.
Samuel F. (Nirdlinger) Nixon was a major figure in the development of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American theatrical history. Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his father and uncle were clothiers, Sammy Nirdlinger began working in show business at an early age. He later became known as Samuel F. Nixon. His business partner was J. Fred Zimmerman (d. 1925), a well-known advance agent in the business. Nixon & Nirdlinger helped to create The Theatrical Syndicate, a six-member leasing and booking exchange that grew as performers took their acts on the road nationwide. Nixon & Zimmerman were involved with many of the major theatrical houses including the Apollo Theatre in Atlantic City, the Chestnut Street Theatre and the Metropolitan Opera of Philadelphia.
Leavitt, M.B. Fifty Years in Theatrical Management. New York: Broadway Publishing Co., 1912.
Marion, John Francis. Within These Walls, A History of the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. Philadelphia: Restoration Office, The Academy of Music, 1989.
Witham, Barry B. Volume I: 1750 – 1915 Theatre in the Colonies and the United States. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Note: Historical and biographical information obtained from the collection.
The Frederick G. Nixon-Nirdlinger Scrapbook chronicles the 1909 “Orient” cruise taken by Philadelphia residents Mr. and Mrs. Nixon-Nirdlinger. The one-volume scrapbook contains ephemera, menus, tickets, receipts, telegrams, handbills, newspapers, souvenir programs, train schedules, broadsides, advertisements, postcards, pamphlets, maps, trade cards, and calling cards about the Nixon-Nirdlingers’ travels in the spring and summer of 1909. The scrapbook records various aspects of the early twentieth - century travel business, and is particularly rich with theatrical ephemera, indicating Nixon-Nirdlinger’s trip combined theatrical business interests with pleasure.
On April 28, 1909 the Nixon-Nirdlingers sailed on the White Star Line’s S.S. Adriatic from New York City to Paris, France. The cruise line had an extensive itinerary to France, Spain, Morocco, Italy, Egypt, Greece, Turkey, and Hungary. The scrapbook ends with an item dated August 3, but does not cover the return passage.
In spite of 200 pages of a wide variety of ephemera, receipts, souvenirs, and printed documentation, there are only a few pieces that have any notes made by the Nixon-Nirdlingers. The scrapbook is in fragile condition. The leather-bound edges have red rot, and pages and papers are deteriorating. The pages are brittle and flaking, with many detached items.
The spine has the label “Invoice,” and “200” was printed at the bottom of the spine. The verso of the cover has a label that reads “The Standard Invoice Book, No. 870, 200 pages.” The verso of the back cover has a stationer’s label that says, “Wm. H. Hoskins Co.; Manufacturing Stationers, Business Furniture, Printers, Engravers, Blank Book Makers; 904 – 906 Chestnut St., Philadelphia.” A promotional pamphlet from the Orient Line of Royal Steamers is loose and lies between the verso and the first page of the volume.
The bulk of the printed materials includes menus, broadsides, handbills, ticket stubs, and performing arts memorabilia. A number of the documents are from the Grand Hotel, apparently a chain of hotels booked by the cruise line. Some of the menus had blank spaces for hand-written daily lists of entrees. The printed materials have a variety of fonts and designs, and reflect turn-of-the century belle époque designs in Europe. The Nixon-Nirdlingers appear to have changed ships, because there are elegantly designed and printed menus from the S.S. Himalaya.
Some of the highlights of the scrapbook are broadsides and handbills for opera and theater (e.g., “The Mikado”), regional brochures (e.g, for Grasse, the center of France’s perfume industry or Thos. Cook & Son’s “How to See Rome”), maps (e.g., Egypt’s railway system), menus (e.g., Compagnia Internationale standard menus in several languages including French, German, Italian, and Spanish), and stationery (e.g., from the Grand Hotel in Hungary).
Ms 205 Philadelphia Theatrical Papers
Ms 308 American Academy of Music