Marita Woodruff Collection on Webster University Theater
The description below provides some basic information about the origin of the collection, the materials available, and any restrictions in use that are in place. Note that the list of materials may not be complete as items may be added to the archives throughout the year. Use of the Webster Archives is by appointment only. See our Planning a Visit page for more information. If you have questions, contact the archives staff.
Date(s): approximately 1960s
Physical extent: Four document boxes containing 10 folders of documents and approximately 1000 photographs.
Name of Creator: Woodruff, Marita; Webster University
Administrative/Biographical History: Marita Woodruff (née Ann Michenfelder) grew up in Webster Groves, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis not far from the institution where she would spend much of her professional life. She was active in theater in high school, performing in productions such as Arsenic and Old Lace. She attended Webster College (later to be known as Webster University) and majored in Speech.
Upon graduation in 1949, Woodruff entered the Sisters of Loretto order and taught speech and drama in various Catholic schools before coming back to Webster in 1959. She chaired the theater department from 1959 to 1969, a period of growth and change in the department as well as the university. She was also involved in the design of the Loretto-Hilton Theatre which opened on the Webster campus in 1966.
Woodruff directed more than 80 productions during her tenure. Among her many awards were the Kemper Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1992 and the Medal of Excellence by the American College Theatre Festival in 1998. That same year she also received the St. Louis Arts and Education Award. Woodruff retired from the university in 1998.
Scope/Content: Contains primarily photographs from theater productions at Webster University in the 1960s. Includes some photographs taken of Webster students visiting the statue of William Shakespeare in Tower Grove Park (St. Louis), at one time an annual ritual performed around the time of Shakespeare's birthday. Several photographs are of Michael Flanagan, founding artistic director of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and a faculty member at Webster College. Another subject of various photographs is Theatre Impact, a student theater troupe which performed outdoors in the summers from 1962-1966. Marsha Mason, 1964 Webster graduate and Academy Award-nominated actress, was a member of Theatre Impact.
Also has a miscellaneous collection of documents, especially programs and publicity related to the school's theater program. Marita Woodruff consulted with Tyrone Guthrie, renowned director and founder of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, on the design and construction of the Loretto-Hilton Theatre. Three letters from Guthrie to Woodruff are included in this collection.
System of Arrangement: The bulk of the files are in alphabetical order by name of production.
Conditions of Access and Use: The collection is open for research use by appointment only.
Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use: Copyright restrictions may apply.
Languages and Scripts of the Material: Materials entirely in English.
Finding Aids: Box list is available.
Immediate Source of Acquisition: Received from Marita Woodruff in 1998.
Marita Woodruff (personal communication, March 8, 2004). Webster University Oral History Program Recording #2
Schuster, J.M. (1998, Summer). Outstanding educators: Retiring faculty members reflect on their careers. Webster World, 4, 2-7.
Photograph courtesy of Claudia Burris. Property of Webster University.