Fredrica V. Shattuck

Honored by:ISU Theatre and the Fredrica Shattuck chapter of Quester, Ames
Brick location:F:20  map


Fredrica V. Shattuck founded the Iowa State Players and served in various teaching and administrative capacities during her fifty year career at Iowa State. Fredrica Van Trica Shattuck was born November 11, 1883 in Monroe, Wisconsin, the daughter of George Luther and Ann (Raymer) Shattuck. Early in her life Miss Shattuck acquired an interest in theatre from touring companies of players that often performed in her small home town of Medford, Wisconsin.

She studied speech and drama at the University of Wisconsin, receiving her B.A. in 1905. She began a teaching career that was to span a half-century when she came to Ames in 1907 as instructor in public speaking. She became assistant professor in 1913 and associate professor a year later.

In 1916 Miss Shattuck was appointed professor and head of the Department of Public Speaking. She served in this capacity until 1931, when she relinquished many administrative duties to devote her full energies to teaching. In 1948 her academic loads were lightened, but she continued to teach one or two classes each year in the Department of English and Speech until 1956.

Students and younger faculty members in her department had a respectful fear of Miss Shattuck, remembers Burt Drexler, a teaching colleague. At one time, Miss Shattuck taught a three-credit play selection class that met weekly at various fraternities and sororities.

During her active years, Miss Shattuck directed both dramatics and debate. Perhaps best known for her work in drama she directed hundreds of plays. She created "The Little Country Theatre," a regular exhibit at the Iowa State Fair between 1921 and 1926, which received national recognition for helping create interest in rural and community theatres. The last public performance of a play she directed was in 1939, when students presented George Bernard Shaw's Anrocles and the Lion.

To her colleagues and the thousands of students who came under her influence the Shattuck name and theatre at Iowa State became synonymous. She founded the Iowa State Players in 1914 to give students the opportunity to see and to participate in many different kinds of plays. In spite of the difficulties of building a theatre program at what then was a very technical school, dramatic productions reached a degree of excellence widely known and respected under the direction of this dedicated teacher, accomplished administrator, and warm person.

In 1960, a former sheep barn and hog judging pavilion that had been converted to a theatre, was renamed the Fredrica Shattuck Theatre. The round building, situated between the Landscape Architecture building and the Press Building, was used beginning in 1938 as a rehearsal hall and from 1948 to 1976 for performances. In those days, an ISU campus building was rarely named for a living person.

The round theater originally was considered an experimental theatre. Original productions, avant garde, and experimental plays were produced there. The interior of Shattuck Theatre was designed to resemble a circus tent. The walls were designed with balances which held names of famous playwrights. The middle chandelier was made to resemble a drum with tassels of gold. The theatre could seat a maximum of 140. The regular productions of the drama department were produced in Curtiss Auditorium.

Frank Brandt, retired professor of Speech explained, "If we thought a play wouldn't draw, we scheduled it for Shattuck." The Speech Department soon found theatergoers actually preferred Shattuck over Curtiss, so the building moved from being an experimental theater to a real theater, with extended runs of the plays because the seating was limited.

A prevailing rumor after Miss Shattuck's death was that her ghost haunted the round building. Brandt commented that Freddie (Fredrica) was so pleased to have the building named after her that she wouldn't haunt this special place. Another Shattuck colleague, Burt Drexler, commented if Fredrica haunted any place, it would be the third floor of Beardshear where her office was located. Shattuck Theatre was torn down in August 1979.

Following her retirement in 1956, Miss Shattuck served as a hostess in the newly created Browsing Library in the Memorial Union. She worked there four years as a friend to students and staff seeking a few moments of private and relaxed reading.

Professionally, Miss Shattuck was a member of the Speech Association of America, having helped found that national organization in 1915 when it was called the National Association of Teachers of Speech. She was a member of Phi Kappa Phi and the American Association of University Women. She was included in the first edition of Who's Who of American Women, 1959; she was a member of Chi Omega social sorority and a charter member of the Iowa State Chapter of Mortarboard, a scholastic honorary for women. In 1953 Miss Shattuck was awarded an Alumni Faculty Citation.

Miss Shattuck is buried in the ISU Cemetery.

Today in 1995, the women’s dressing room at Fisher Theater in the Iowa State Center complez is scheduled for refurbishing. The women’s dressing room will be named for Fredrica Shattuck. A student scholarship given annually to tow students is named in Fredrica Shattuck’s honor and administered throught the ISU Foundation.

An Ames Questers group, an international organization that researcehes and appreciates antiques, as well as works to preserve historical structures, carries her name. The Fredrica Shattuck chapter of Questers was founded in 1970.

The Fredrica Shattuck brick is sponsored jointly by ISU Theatre and the Fredrica Shattuck chapter of Quester, Ames. 

Submitted on 12/31/94