Skip to main content

Boyd Martin theater papers

Identifier: 1973_U078-UA

Collection contains mainly scrapbooks containing reviews, cast lists and other papers related to Martin's work in local theater companies including Macauley’s Theater, Masonic Theater, Little Theater Company, and the University of Louisville’s UofL Players, and Belknap Players. Also found in the collection are correspondence files including programs, playbills, prompt books, posters, and photos. At The Theatre Notebooks: six volumes, national shows and reviews. Masonic Theatre Notebooks: six volumes, Louisville shows and reviews. University of Louisville Players Notebooks, three volumes, University of Louisville productions. Macauley's Theatre Notebooks, eighteen-volumes, Louisville shows and reviews. The Boyd Martin notebooks contain newspaper clippings, reviews of plays performed, and cast listings from programs of plays presented in Louisville. Many of the reviews were written by Boyd Martin himself.


  • circa 1885-1963


Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in the Boyd Martin Theater Collection have not been transferred to the University of Louisville.


8.125 linear feet

Biographical / Historical

Edgar Boyd Martin was born on May 2, 1886 in Louisville. He graduated from Dupont Manual High School and the University of Louisville. After graduating, he worked as a structural steel engineer for Grainger & Co. (1904-1925).

Martin began writing theater reviews for the Courier-Journal in 1907 when he was mistaken for a reporter and asked to cover a local burlesque show. He worked for the newspaper as both a theater critic and a movie critic until 1962. By 1909, Martin became the dramatic editor for the Courier-Journal and maintained that title for the rest of his career. Boyd Martin is known for writing the first movie review in an American newspaper when he reviewed The Great Train Robbery in 1910.

Besides his work as a critic, Martin was a leader in the community theater movement in Louisville. He helped with the foundation and running of a variety of theater groups such as Players Club of Louisville (1917), Alumni Players (1921), and Louisville Little Theater (1932). He worked as the publicity director and manager of the Strand Theater in the 1920s and helped start a national trend by organizing theater trains from Louisville to New York City. He also published a book titled Modern American Drama and Theater in 1946.

His involvement with the University of Louisville began with directing plays there with the Dramatic Club in 1914. In 1916, he became an assistant professor who specialized in public speaking and theater courses. During his tenure, Martin served as the university’s official orator during events such as commencements and the sesquicentennial in 1948. He retired from U of L in 1955 and received the Minerva Award for Merit at that time.

Martin was married twice in his lifetime. He met his first wife, Julia, while directing her in a play in 1911 and they were married until her death in 1960. Martin then married Jessie Strother Smith in 1962 and remained married to her for the rest of his life. Edgar Boyd Martin died on April 16, 1963 in Louisville.

Career with Grainger and Co. as draftsman; made chief engineer.
began writing dramatic criticisms for the Courier-Journal.
made newspaper history with review of "The Great Train Robbery" (first newspaper review of motion picture) became dramatic editor of CJ Dramatic Club, University of Louisville, Director
University of Louisville, Instructor of Dramatics
Organized University of Louisville Players.
became part-time instructor of the University of Louisville English Department (pioneer in making dramatics part of curriculum)
founder of the Players Club of Louisville.
formed the Alumni Players.
resigned from CJ became affiliated with the Fourth Avenue Amusement Co. as publicity director and manager of the Strand Theater returned to CJ as dramatic editor
Louisville Little Theater formed through amalgamation of the Players Club and the Alumni Players.
resigned from the University of Louisville.
resigned as drama editor of the CJ.
Died of cancer.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession 1973-U078, transferred from University Libraries.


Boyd Martin Theater Papers
Archives Staff
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Louisville Archives and Special Collections Repository

Ekstrom Library, Lower Level Room 17
Louisville KY 40292
502 852-6752