Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department / School


First Advisor

James L. Johnson


There may be many reasons for the appearance of the Socialist Hall in Oldham, South Dakota. Certainly a primary factor for its construction was the controversial Socialist party that formed a local branch in the Oldham area in 1912. It may be of interest to note that the town of Oldham had an opera house operating prior to the Socialist Hal1 and after the new hal1 was constructed, both continued to provide the community with a wide variety of entertainment and community activities. Unfortunately, the lack of information and the limited time and space does not allow the first opera house to be included in this study. It should also be pointed out that the size of the community, its geographic location, and its accessibility to a major railway were also important factors relating to the need to maintain the Socialist Hall in Oldham, South Dakota. The hall is currently located on the grounds of Prairie Village, South Dakota and provides South Dakota State University's Summer Repertory Theatre a place to perform summer plays. As a previous member of this company with a personal interest in local history, the writer felt motivated to undertake a detailed investigation of the history of the Oldham, South Dakota Socialist Hall. To develop this history, answers to the following questions were sought: (1) What factors were responsible for the construction of the Socialist Hall in Oldham, South Dakota? (a) What role did the local Socialist party play? (b) What other factors may have been influential to the construction of the Hall? (2) How was the physical design of the building related to the Hall's adaptability to various activities? (a) How was the exterior constructed? (b) What were the physical properties of the interior that helped it to be utilized as a multipurpose Hal)? (c) How was the Socialist Hall managed? (3) What professional dramatic touring companies performed .in the Hall? (4) What professional variety touring companies performed at the Hall? (5) How was the Socialist Hall used to support amateur drama in the community? (6) What major rhetorical activities took place in the Hall? (a) What professional lecture agencies were active in the Hall? (b) How did the community utilize the Socialist Hall for political and community meeting? (7) What other community functions were held in the Socialist Hal)? (8) How well received were the aforementioned activities? (9) What led to the demise of the Socialist Hall? It is hoped that this study will inspire others to research similar areas so that a more complete understanding of the functional importance of the local opera houses and community halls can be provided. A study of this nature may also provide a better understanding of theatre and rhetorical activities in rural America.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Socialist Hall (Oldham, S.D.)
Theaters -- South Dakota -- Oldham
Amateur theater -- South Dakota -- Oldham.



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University