Skip to main content

Lavinia Schaeffer papers

Identifier: MC068

Scope and Content Note

The collection includes photographs of Schaeffer as a child and as an adult; clippings related to her work at Bates College as a Professor of Drama and Speech; legal records, including her adoption certificate and will; as well as some miscellaneous personal items.


  • 1903-1978, undated


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

The collection is the physical property of Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library. Bates College holds literary rights only for material created by College personnel working on official behalf of the College, or for material which was given to the College with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication or other purposes that exceed fair use.

Historical Note

Lavinia Miriam Schaeffer was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on January 8, 1903. Her name was changed from Delara Melquist when she was adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Frank Schaeffer on September 4, 1903. A graduate of Yankton College in South Dakota, Schaeffer earned her M.A. at Northwestern University and came to Bates to teach speech and theater in the fall of 1938. A stylish presence on the tweedy New England campus, Schaeffer directed some 100 major productions during her career, with an emphasis on Shakespeare and a perfectionist's eye for planning, details, and execution. She maintained unwavering confidence in her actors, and within this creatively safe environment they gave their best to the professor they called "the Schaeff." In return she gave them her interest in their lives both inside and outside the Bates theater. A discussion with Miss Schaeffer, one student wrote, always ended with relief "because she had received us." For most of her career Schaeffer worked in Hathorn's aptly named Little Theatre, and in 1972 Bates' theater on College Street, built in 1960, was named in her honor. She died in July 1978.


0.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The collection contains photographs, legal documents, clippings, and other material related to Lavinia Schaeffer, a long time professor of speech and theater at Bates College.

Organization and Arrangement

The collection is arranged in alphabetical order by folder title.

Acquisition and Custody Information

Gift of Nancy Wright, 2004. Ms. Wright received the material from Marjorie Buck, a relative, Bates Class of 1937, and executor of Schaeffer's estate. Accession No.: 04-031.

Guide to the Lavinia Schaeffer papers, 1903-1978, n.d.
Edited Full Draft
Kat Stefko
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Description is in: English
Edition statement

Repository Details

Part of the Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library Repository

70 Campus Avenue
Lewiston Maine 04240 United States of America
207-755-5911 (Fax)