Katherine Bowden’s Hiawatha Glows
Art was another major content area of magic lantern shows. One of the most popular art performances was Katherine Bowden’s Hiawatha. Professionals like Bowden performed in major halls, and on the Lyceum circuit, a network that sponsored educational presentations and entertainment in about 6,000 communities around the country. About eight percent of the Lyceum magic-lantern illustrated lecturers were women.
This Nov. 1909 color ad in the trade magazine, The Lyceumite, introduced what Bowden called a new “pictorial reproduction.” Bowden’s performance used slides and motion pictures of an Indian play that was based on Longfellow’s famous story. It included “Indian” music, especially composed for the production.
Said The Lyceumite’s editor: “I have not seen all the things of an illustrated nature—no, not all—but I have yet to see anything that compares with ‘Hiawatha’” You can see some of Bowden’s movies here.