Skip to main content

Gertrude Gossman photograph and ephemera collection

Identifier: PP 0343


This collection contains photographs and various ephemera collected by Gertrude M. Gossman Garmer (1900-1976, stage name "Gertrude Gossman"), documenting her experience as an actress in various amateur productions with the Play-Arts Guild and other "Little Theaters" in Baltimore, Maryland from approximately 1922-1945. The bulk of the collection is contained in a scrapbook kept by Gossman, and includes programs, photographs, correspondence, newspaper clippings, and other ephemera related to her theatrical work.


  • 1911-1973


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Biographical / Historical

Gertrude M. Gossman Garmer (1900-1976, stage name "Gertrude Gossman") was born and raised in and around Baltimore City, graduating from the Institute of Notre Dame and studying voice at the Peabody Conservatory. She also briefly worked at the Baltimore Transit Company before her marriage to John Henry (Harry) Garmer IV (1894-1968) in 1929.

Gossman was particularly active in the local Baltimore theater scene and was a charter member of the Play-Arts Guild, which operated in the city from the mid-1920s to 1942.

The Play-Arts Guild, like the still-running Vagabond Players, was one of Baltimore's contributions to the nationwide "Little Theater Movement," which developed in the United States around 1912. "Little Theaters" were composed entirely of amateurs who were driven by their passion for the theater and often put on more experimental and intimate productions than their professional counterparts. The "Guilders" were critically acclaimed and performed more traditional productions, specializing in the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan. Their production of "Patience" was so successful that they brought it to New York City for a run at Broadway's Masque Theater in 1928.

Unfortunately due to "wartime restrictions" the group was forced to close its theater and ceased to perform.


1.0 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



The materials in this collection have been arranged into three series: Photographs, Ephemera, and the Gertrude Gossman Scrapbook.

Items in Series I: Photographs are arranged according to the original order in which they were received, with duplicates itemized together. All photographs were loose and outside of the scrapbook except for PP343.23 and PP343.24, which were in between pages 12 and 13, but were not physically attached to any pages.

Similarly, Series II: Ephemera is also arranged in the order in which it was received. Like the photographs, all items were loose and not attached to any scrapbook pages. However, some were found wedged within the book and were removed for the items' preservation. In these cases, the original location is noted in their item-level records.

Series III: Gertrude Gossman Scrapbook, is in its original order and no pages have been removed or reorganized.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mrs. Richard E. Edwards, August 2012. The scrapbook belonged to Mrs. Edwards' mother, Gertrude Gossman Garmer.


"J. H. Garmer Dies at 74; was Tax Agent for B.&O." The Sun (1837-), May 15, 1968.
"Mrs. Gertrude Garmer Services Set Tomorrow." The Sun (1837-), Jul 22, 1976.
Smith, Tim. “Baltimore's Vagabond Players Still Going Strong 100 Years after Launch.” Baltimore Sun, August 28, 2015.
Worthington, Norah. “Donor Paul Edel.” Maryland Center for History and Culture, January 11, 2021.
Koenig, Linda Lee. 1982. The Vagabonds, America's oldest little theater. East Brunswick, N.J.: Associated University Presses.

Scope and Contents

The Gertrude Gossman Photograph and Ephemera Collection consists primarily of black and white photographs and ephemera from approximately 1911-1973. The collection is arranged into three series: Series I: Photographs, Series II: Ephemera, and Series III: Scrapbook.

Series I consists of 24 items. This series of black and white photographs contains images from numerous Play-Arts Guild productions and various headshots of Gertrude Gossman, some of which capture her in costume. All photographs were loose and not attached within the scrapbook, although many relate to productions documented within. Photographs all date from approximately 1926-1938.

Series II consists of mixed materials that pertain to various productions in which Gossman was involved, the majority of which were with the Play-Arts Guild. This series includes various programs, an original illustrated commemorative comic, and a piece of sheet music from the inaugural production at the Homewood Playshop Theater of Johns Hopkins University in 1923. Like the photograph series, all ephemera was found separated or detached from the scrapbook, although many relate to productions documented within and date from approximately 1926-1971.

Series III is a 79 page scrapbook, which Gossman used to record her entire career in the theater. The book was started in 1922 and includes photographs, ephemera, and correspondence dating from 1911-1973. A more detailed list of the contents of each page can be found in the record for this series, however, some notable items found within the scrapbook are: a letter from author Sophie Kerr Underwood; programs from the first production by the Playshop Theater at Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus; clippings and other ephemera documenting the Play-Arts Guild's New York City run of "Patience;" and multiple programs containing a wide variety of advertisements and other material culture.

Guide to the Gertrude Gossman photograph and ephemera collection
Rebecca McGivney
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States