Sherman Theatre

Scene from <em>The Girl without a Chance</em> at the Sherman Theatre
Scene from The Girl without a Chance
Actress Patti McKinley of the Sherman Theatre
Actress Patti McKinley of the Sherman Theatre
Born in 1866, Robert Lowery Sherman began his theater career as an actor in a touring production of his own play, My Friend from Arkansas. Later, he managed tent repertoire companies and served as president of the Midwest Manager's Association and director of the United Manager's Association. He also wrote three books, along with a number of other plays and scripts. Sherman bought a collection of plays from the Chicago Manuscript Company after the death of its owner, Alexander Byers, and marketed them to university libraries and major movie studios during the 1930s and 1940s. Byers had acquired most of the collection by piracy, making minimal changes to the plays.
The Sherman Theatre Collection, 1871-1938, features 2229 separate plays copyrighted and published by the Chicago Manuscript Company between 1893 and 1917, largely American melodramas. The manuscripts are accompanied by set diagrams, property lists, light plots, costume plots, directing notes, technical cues, script cuts or additions, and other production information. There are also 30 boxes of actors' sides for other plays that were added to the collection by Robert Sherman, including radio dramas, television scripts, and plays either written by Sherman or adapted from plays in the collection from 1922 to 1950. The collection features records and correspondence related to Sherman's business and book Actors and Authors, History of the Chicago Stage, playbills from Chicago theaters, and numerous letters concerning copyright. Also of note are production photos of The Girl without a Chance by Whitney Collins, a set of letters and instructions from the Writer's War Board of World War Two, and a complete set of contracts for a touring production of a Broadway musical.
The Sherman Theatre Photograph Collection features around 75 photographs of plays and people related to the Sherman Theatre. The collection includes publicity photographs from four plays: The Girl Without a Chance, Little Italy, Pinched, and The Soul Savers, along with portraits of actors and other people associated with the theater.


Sherman, Robert L. 1944. Drama cyclopedia, a bibliography of plays and players. Chicago: The author.

Sherman, Robert L. 1947. Chicago stage, its records and achievements. Chicago: The author.

Sherman, Robert L. 1951. Actors and authors, with composers and managers who helped make them famous; a chronological record and brief biography of theatrical celebrities from 1750 to 1950. Chicago: The author.