Archibald McLeod

Archibald McLeod at Louisiana State University in 1944
Archibald McLeod (right) backstage at Louisiana State in 1944 
Scenic illustration by Archibald McLeod
Scenic watercolor illustration by Archibald McLeod
Archibald McLeod on a theatrical tour in 1953 with SIUC students
Archibald McLeod in the make-up room in DuQuoin during his first Illinois tour in 1953
McLeod Theater at Southern Illinois University
McLeod Theater at Southern Illinois University Carbondale 

Archibald McLeod was a theater professor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Born in 1906 in Edinburgh, Scotland, McLeod moved with his family to the United States in 1920. He became interested in theater as a teenager in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in plays at the Presbyterian church. While studying sociology at Oberlin College, he continued acting, earning his bachelor's degree in 1933. He earned his master's degree from the University of Iowa in 1934 and his doctoral degree from Cornell University in 1943. After teaching at State Teachers College in Emporia, Kansas, Texas State College for Women in Denton, Texas, and Louisiana State University, McLeod came to Southern Illinois University in 1947 and taught in the Speech Department while staging plays. He became the first chairman and sole faculty member of the newly created Theater Department in 1958, developing courses on acting, directing, playwriting, dance, set design, costuming, and makeup.

McLeod served as chairman for seventeen years, organizing summer repertory theater companies, touring companies, and a children’s theater program. He took students to Greenland and Iceland to perform for servicemen at military bases in 1962 and 1966. In 1969 he helped establish The Center for Soviet & East-European Studies in the Performing Arts at SIUC. The Theater Department’s performing company performed in the American College Theater Festival in Washington, DC, in the early 1970s. McLeod started the country’s first national intercollegiate scene design competition, played a role in bringing Broadway scenic designer Mordecai Gorelik to campus as faculty, and encouraged scenic designer Darwin Reid Payne as a student and in his career as faculty at SIUC. After retiring from SIU in 1975, McLeod became the first executive secretary of the Illinois State Theater Company. He later helped found The Stage Company in Carbondale in 1982, where he continued to design sets and direct plays.

Located in the archives of Morris Library's Special Collections Research Center, the Archibald McLeod papers, 1933-2006, is a small collection consisting of correspondence, research notes and materials, clippings, and production photographs pertaining to McLeod's career at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. There is a file documenting his Fulbright studies in India, along with photographs of performances McLeod likely directed, brought to the university, or for which he designed the sets. The research notes relate to a book on theater audiences, which was also the topic of his Cornell University dissertation.