Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, Texas Tech University

Harley Sadler:

An Inventory of His Papers, 1922-1976 and undated, at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library

Descriptive Summary

Creator Sadler, Harley, 1892-1954
Title: Harley Sadler Papers,
Dates: 1922-1976 and undated
Abstract: Tent show owner and State Senator Harley Sadler achieved fame throughout the Southwest during his thirty-year career.
Collection # S 884.1
Quantity: 2 boxes (2.0 linear feet)
Language English.
Repository: Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, Texas Tech University

Biographical Sketch

A West Texas showman, oilman, and Texas legislator, Harley Sadler was also an actor and tent show owner. He traveled through the United States in tent shows during the period 1910 to 1944, primarily in Texas and the Southwest. Elected to the Texas Senate in 1943, he served until his death in 1954.

From the turn of the century through the era of the Great Depression, tent shows were a popular medium of entertainment particularly in rural areas. Harley Sadler and Harvey Haverstock were among the famous tent show owners in Texas and the Southwest.

The Handbook of Texas has published a more in-depth online biography of Harley Herman Sadler at

Scope and Contents

The collection contains genealogical materials on the Sadler family, playbills and scripts from performances, artifacts, index cards of various plays, and news clippings. All deal with the tent show career of Harley Sadler and his wife, Billie. Some items are available on microfilm.


Access Restrictions

Open for research

Index Terms

The subject headings used by the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library are derived from the Library of Congress and/or locally developed.
Subjects (Persons)
Sadler family--Genealogy
Sadler, Harley, 1892-1954
Sadler, Harley, 1892-1954--Career in tent shows
Sadler, Harley, 1892-1954--Contributions in politics and government
Sadler, Harley, 1892-1954--Family
Subjects (Organizations)
Brunk's Comedians
Harley Sadler's Own Show
Texas--Politics and government
Texas--Social life and customs
Entertainers--Texas, West
Politics, Practical--Texas
Tent shows--History--Sources
Tent shows--Texas--History
Theater, Open-air
Theatrical producers and directors--Texas--History
Traveling theater

Related Material

For related materials located in the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, see the following collections:

  • Clifford Ashby Papers, 1977
  • Zachary Ball Papers, 1922-1934
  • Zachary Ball oral history interview [sound recording], 1975
  • Maurice Brooks, Tom Gordon and J.F. Connaly oral history interview [sound recording], 1975
  • Henry L. and Mercedes Brunk oral history interview [sound recording], 1979
  • Henry L. Brunk Papers, 1922-1975
  • Harvey Haverstock Papers, 1893-1976
  • Paul C. Kalmbacher Papers, 1878-1970
  • Jerry Sadler oral history interview [sound recording], 1981

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Harley Sadler Papers, 1922-1976 and undated, Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas

Collection accession # (s):

Gifts, 1974-1998 and undated

Processed by

Abel Ramirez, August 2000

Additional Sources

Ashby, Clifford. Trouping Through Texas: Harley Sadler and His Tent Show. Ohio: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1982.

Collection Inventory

box folder
1 1 Scripts, 1933 and undated



box folder
1 2 Artifacts- Floyd Lloyd Boots,
3 Artifacts- Jewelry, undated

box folder
2 1 Correspondence of Mrs. H. Sadler, 1954

box folder
2 2 Literary Production, undated

box folder
2 3 Printed Material, 1954-1955

box folder
2 4 Photograph, undated

box folder
2 5 Scrapbook Material (3 items), 1954 and undated

box folder
2 6 Printed Material 1922 and undated

box folder
2 7 Lifetime Pass, Harley Sadler and His Own Company, undated



box folder
2 8 The Grafters, undated
9 Lightning Love, undated
10 The Maid and the Minister
11 The Man from Texas of The Girl in the Spotlight, undated
12 St. Elmo, undated
13 Toby, undated
14 Toby Goes to Washington, undated
15 Where is Elmer?, undated
16 Untitled Script, undated

box folder
2 17 Photocopies of Program Advertisements, undated


Literary Productions

box folder
2 18 "The Brand; or Drifting Apart," undated
19 "In Devil's Mine," undated
20 "My Friend from Arkansaw," undated
21 "St. Elmo," undated
22 "Tess of the Storm Country," undated
23 "Toby's Legacy," undated
24 "Turn to the Right," undated
25 "Under Arizona's Skies," undated

box folder
2 26 News clippings on Harley Sadler Tent Show, 1976

box folder
2 27 Printed Scripts List, undated