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Victory Theatre records

Identifier: UASC-014

Scope and Contents

The Victory Theatre records contain rental agreements, posters, photographs, programs, sheet music and other items used at the Victory Theartre in Dayton, Ohio. Most of the records in this collection begin with the conception of the Victory Theatre Association (VTA), although there are a few photographs, contracts, and programs from the the 1920s and 1930s. Some of the sheet music is copyrighted as early as 1902. However, the majority of the records are from the files of the VTA and range from 1975-1981.


  • 1902-1981


Access to Materials

This collection is open and available to the public for research in the University Archives and Special Collections reading room. The materials are non-circulating.

Copyright Notice

The materials in this collection may be protected by copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). The materials are available for personal, educational, and scholarly use. It is the responsibility of the the researcher to locate and obtain permission from the copyright owner or his or her heirs for any other use, such as reproduction and publication.

History of the Victory Theatre

The Victory Theatre has been the center of the performing arts in Dayton since January 1, 1866. On that night, the Turner Opera House, the first of the Victory's many names, opened with the classic Greek tragedy, Virginius. The Opera House remained the cultural center of the Dayton area until May 16, 1869, when a fire destroyed the building's interior. The theatre was reborn in 1871 under the name Music Hall, and in 1895 it was renamed the Grand Opera House when it became the center of Dayton's centennial celebration.

Disaster struck the theatre again during the great flood of 1913. The citizens of Dayton, however, were not willing to allow their beloved Opera House to go to ruin, and it was resurrected as the Victoria Opera House shortly after the flood. But when water could not destroy the theatre, fire tried again, and on January 15, 1916, flames engulfed the theatre and caused over $150,000 in damages.

William A. Keys brought the theatre back to life in 1919. This time it was named Victory to commemorate United States efforts in World War I. This began the longest and most successful run in the theatre's history. Business was booming--first with stage shows in the 1920s and 1930s, then with silent films and eventually movies. The Victory Theatre was at the center of many social and cultural events in Dayton.

The success of the theatre continued until the early 1970s, when another disaster struck. This time the problems were economic. Growing suburbs steered people away from downtown Dayton and the Victory Theatre. In 1975 the owners decided to give up on the theatre and demolish the building to make a parking lot. Their decision was met with fierce opposition from many in the Dayton community. A small band of students, arts patrons, and other supporters began to raise money to "Save the Victory," and they signed a one year lease to protect the building from destruction. This "Save the Victory" committee evolved into the Victory Theatre Association, which has managed to keep the theartre alive through individual and corporate donations and patronage. The VTA restored the interior of the theatre and began a regular fall/winter theatre season. The work of these dedicated individuals saved the landmark that has stood at the corner of First and Main streets since 1866 from total destruction.

In 1988 the Victory Theatre was acquired by the Arts Center Foundation and was renamed the Victoria Theatre.


10 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The Victory Theatre records consist of Victory Theatre Association governing documents, as well as rental agreements, posters, photographs, sheet music, and other organizational records. The Victory Theatre (now known as the Victoria Theatre) is located on the corners of First and Main streets in downtown Dayton, Ohio, and has been a center for performing arts since 1866.


The Victory Theatre records are divided into fourteen series.

Missing Title

  1. Series 1: Rental argeements and supporting materials
  2. Series 2: Accounting information
  3. Series 3: Sheet music
  4. Series 4: In-house records
  5. Series 5: Maintenance materials
  6. Series 6: Special events records
  7. Series 7: Seasonal paraphernalia
  8. Series 8: Printed histories and photographs
  9. Series 9: Historic preservation materials
  10. Series 10: Fundraising campaign records
  11. Series 11: Victory Theatre Association minutes
  12. Series 12: Advertising materials
  13. Series 13: 1920s and 1930s memorabilia
  14. Series 14: Oversized materials

Acquisition Information

The University of Dayton Archives acquired this collection after archivist Linda Hinrichs offered the Special Collections Department as a repository for the Victory Theatre Association records on September 16, 1980. Ms. Hinrichs believed that the files of the Victory Theatre were important for three reasons, which she expressed in a letter to Kent Anderson, director of the VTA:

"First, future historians will find them an important source of information about Dayton's cultural rebirth in the late 1970s. Second, other groups involved in restoration projects will want to take a look at a highly successful project. Third, the Association itself needs to have orderly and convenient access to its older files for administrative purposes."

Hinrichs felt the University of Dayton Special Collections would be an ideal place for the Victory Theatre to house its records. The University already housed the Urban Schnurr collection, which has many commonalities to the Victory Theatre records. After much correspondence between Ms. Hinrichs and the Association, the records were transferred to the University of Dayton in October 1981.

Related Materials

MS-360, Victoria Theatre Collection, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio

Guide to the Victory Theatre records, 1902-1981
Julia Santucci
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University Libraries Repository

300 College Park Dr.
Dayton Ohio 45469-1360