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Blue Jacket Outdoor Drama Collection

Identifier: MS-464

Scope and Content

This collection consists of documents, photographs, and recordings of First Frontier, Inc. and their premier production, Blue Jacket Outdoor Drama. The documents represent both the administrative and theatrical production endeavors of the company. For example, there are financial, administrative, and commercial records along with scripts, programs, and performance photographs. While the collection spans the entire history of First Frontier, the bulk of the documents are from the 1980s and early 1990s.

Series I, Board of Trustees, contains documents dealing with the organization and running of the board of the First Frontier, Inc. and is divided into two subseries. Subseries IA, Meeting and Committee Records, includes agendas and minutes for the Board of Trustees and the Committees. This subseries also includes reports delivered to the board during meetings. Subseries IB, General Administration, consists of documents describing the organization of the board, board correspondence, members' guidebooks, and the board mission statement. These documents detail the structure of the board as well as topics such as drafting the original script and employee management decisions. This series also includes documentation regarding The Institute of Outdoor Drama (IOD).

Series II, Finance, has been divided into two subseries. Series IIA, Financial Documents and Reports, highlights the financial history of First Frontier Incorporated. A great portion of these financial documents and reports are clustered between the periods that First Frontier was founded in 1977 until the opening season in 1982. The bulk of these documents consist of balance sheets, cash receipts and disbursement reports, treasurer reports, and estimated cash available and expense reports. Also note that Blue Jacket was an outdoor drama produced in the summer months, this is often reflected within the coverage of their financials. For what is available of First Frontier's financial history: the balance sheets cover this time in the most detail. This subseries also includes receipts for group sales during the summer months of 2004 and 2005. Subseries IIB, Grants and Fundraising, contains material documenting First Frontier's efforts at raising capital. Of pertinent interest to the researcher may be the folder labeled Capital Campaign Plans which documents how First Frontier tried to achieve this goal. Of equal interest may be the Grants Committee folder, which contains documents that would also give insight into First Frontier's capital plans. Many of these applications appear to be from the latter period of First Frontier's history, and could help determine how or why First Frontier wasn't successful in raising more capital.

Series III, Administration, is divided into two subseries and covers the administrative side of First Frontier Inc. It is broken into three subseries, Construction and Lease Agreements, and Employee Records. Subseries IIIA, Construction and Lease Agreements regards construction, leases, building permits and renovation information. This subseries also includes architectural drawings filed separately in the map cases. Subseries IIIB, Employee Records includes all employee records and contracts as well as company dealings with Actor's Equity Association, the nation union for stage actors.

Series IV, Marketing and Advertisements, has been divided into four subseries. Subseries IVA, Marketing, contains material directly related to First Frontier's efforts to promote their company. The researcher may find the folder labeled Marketing Budgets and Plans a helpful place to start. Some of the documents highlight the more significant events in First Frontier's history, such as the world premiere of Blue Jacket and the groundbreaking of the Cesar Ford Park Amphitheatre. Also documented within this series are examples of marketing materials First Frontier released to the public. Subseries IVB, Press Clippings, contains newspapers articles related to First Frontier or Blue Jacket. Series IVC, Programs and Guestbooks, contains the annual programs provided to audiences of the Blue Jacket Outdoor Drama. Very few examples from their other First Frontier productions are available. This series also includes two guest-books that were donated with the collection. Subseries IVD, Ads and Memorabilia, these binders are scrapbooks maintained by First Frontier that consists of a large variety of material types. Also included in this series are posters from Blue Jacket and other First Frontier productions.

Series V, Production Logistics, is divided into three subseries, Research, Scripts and General Production Information. It contains all documents related to day-to-day production of Blue Jacket and other plays. Subseries VA, Research, holds documents related to production research including maps, character studies and photocopies of relevant historical novels. Subseries VB includes a variety of scripts from most of the years Blue Jacket was in production as well as scripts from other productions and filmstrips. Of special not in this subseries is two copies of the original script produced by W.L. Mundell. Subseries VC, General Production Information, contains all of the technical logistics involved in the production such as electrical plans production notes and reports and various permits for the use of explosives and weapons. In addition to the technical aspects this subseries also includes administrative correspondence and other administrative functions directly related to production.

Series VI, Audio/Visual, contains various forms of recordings of the characters, actors, sets, and production of Bluejacket Outdoor Drama as well as computer records for First Frontier, Inc. Subseries VIA, Videos, includes video tapes of the production between 1984 and 2003, including complete recordings of the 1993 and 1994 seasons. This subseries also includes undated promotional spots, Bob Ford historical program, an Institute of Outdoor Drama Conference event, and fundraising videos. Subseries VIB, Photographs and Negatives, consists of still photographs, scrapbooks, and negative of actors, characters, productions, and sets. There are seasonal albums, including one from 1999 which documents the costumes for each character. There are also a significant number of unlabeled photographs and negatives in boxes 49, 50, and 51. Subseries VIC, Slides, includes three albums of slides used for promotional purposes that are primarily copies of photographs found in subseries VIB. Subseries VID, Digital Records, consists of computer files and audio recordings.


  • 1943 - 2011


Restrictions on Access

There are no restrictions on accessing materials in this collection.

Restrictions on Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

History of The Blue Jacket Outdoor Drama

First Frontier Inc. was established as a non-profit organization based out of Xenia, Ohio in 1977. With aid from the Institute of Outdoor Drama in North Carolina, First Frontier Inc. sought to develop an outdoor drama based on history relevant to Xenia and the Greene County area. The concept of was to be based on the play Tecumseh!, which was already being produced near Chillicothe, Ohio. During this time period, attendance to outdoor dramas was the highest it had been in decades. A great deal of research and planning was completed by First Frontier Inc. and its sponsoring organization in order to ensure that a viable plan was laid out.

Blue Jacket was an eighteenth-century Shawnee war chief who led the effort to preserve the tribe's land rights in Ohio Country during and after the Revolutionary War. W. L. Mundell wrote the script based on the twentieth-century historical novels written by Allan W Eckert. The production portrayed Blue Jacket as Marmaduke Van Swearingen, a white man raised as Shawnee. This is the version of Blue Jacket's life that Eckert popularized in his novels. Historical research and DNA testing has provided evidence that Blue Jacket could not have been Van Swearingen. Current scholarship indicates that the war chief was Shawnee by birth.

Although Blue Jacket Outdoor Drama was not the only play produced by First Frontier, it was their premiere production for almost thirty years. The first performance of Blue Jacket was held in 1982, and the play was financially viable up until the late 1990s. By its twenty year anniversary, over one million people had seen the play, and it was a major tourist attraction for Xenia and Greene County. However, in the early 2000s, a sharp drop in attendance was observed in outdoor dramas across the country, and Blue Jacket was no exception. By 2003, First Frontier Inc. was clearly running in the red.

A number of attempts were made to keep First Frontier Inc. operational. The company aggressively sought outside funding in the forms of grants and was active in its capital efforts. However, the deficit the company was running proved to be too much to overcome. First Frontier Inc. put on the last production of Blue Jacket in 2007. During the year of 2008, production of the play had stopped while First Frontier frantically searched for alternative sources of revenue, or a new production based on a new script. In 2009, First Frontier ceased all operations and filed for bankruptcy.


25 linear feet

Language of Materials



The Blue Jacket Outdoor Drama Collection includes the records and files accumulated by the production company, First Frontier, Inc during the development and production of Blue Jacket Outdoor Drama between 1974 and 2010. These records consist of administrative and financial records of First Frontier, Inc., as well as the research, production, publicity, marketing, fundraising, and performance of Blue Jacket Outdoor Drama. The collection also includes related photographs, computer files, and video recordings.

Statement of Arrangement

This collection is arranged into six series and eighteen subseries:

  1. Series I: Board of Trustees
  2. Subseries IA: Meeting and Committee Records
  3. Subseries IB: General Administration
  4. Series II: Finances
  5. Subseries IIA: Financial Documents and Reports
  6. Subseries IIB: Fundraising and Grants
  7. Series III: Administration
  8. Subseries IIIA: Construction and Lease Agreements
  9. Subseries IIIB: Employment Records
  10. Series IV: Marketing and Advertising
  11. Subseries IVA: Marketing
  12. Subseries IVB: Press Clippings
  13. Subseries IVC: Programs and Guestbooks
  14. Subseries IVD: Ads and Memorabilia
  15. Series V: Production Logistics
  16. Subseries VA: Research
  17. Subseries VB: Scripts
  18. Subseries VC: General Production Information
  19. Series VI: Audio/Visual
  20. Subseries VIA: Videos
  21. Subseries VIB: Photographs and Negatives
  22. Subseries VIC: Slides
  23. Subseries VID: Digital Records

Technical Requirements

This collection includes VHS tapes, CDs, 3.5 inch disks, and zip disks that require special equipment to access.

Other Finding Aid

A complete box and folder inventory for this collection is available on the Special Collections and Archives web site.

Custodial History

The collection is comprised of materials collected by individuals associated with First Frontier, Inc and compiled by Tim Haney for the purpose of donation.

Acquisition Information

Timothy Haney donated this collection to Wright State University Special Collections in July 2012. Mr. Haney was a former board member of First Frontier, Inc.


The board members of First Frontier, Inc. may donate additional materials relevant to the production.


Draper, Lyman Copeland. "Draper manuscripts: Simon Kenton Papers." (1755).
Eckert, Allan W. Blue Jacket: War Chief of the Shawnees. Boston: Little, Brown, 1969.
Eckert, Allan W. The Frontiersmen: A Narrative. Boston: Little, Brown,1967.
Mundell, W. L. Blue Jacket: A Play. Ohioana Library. Columbus, Ohio. c1980.
Sugden, John. Blue Jacket: Warrior of the Shawnees. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 2000.
Van Trees, Robert. Blue Jacket: Chief of the Shawnee:Swearingen Family Line. 1990.

Processing Information

Materials from scrapbooks in Subseries IVB and IVC were removed as found, and rehoused in archival binders. The individual photograph and slide albums included in Subseries VIB and VIC were moved out of three ring binders into archival album boxes and sleeves. When negatives were found inside the albums, there were placed in sleeves and placed at the end of the album. Subseries VID was kept in original housing and order.


Guide to the Blue Jacket Outdoor Drama Collection (MS-464)
Finding aid prepared by Linda Collins, Christopher Erb, Kyle Pitzer, March 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Wright State University Libraries, Special Collections and Archives Repository

Special Collections and Archives
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton OH 45435-0001 USA