Salvas-Coulombe Theater Collection - Finding Aid

Salvas-Coulombe Theater Collection - Finding Aid
    Item Description
    Existence and Location of Originals
    Located at the McArthur Library, Biddeford, Maine, USA.

    For nearly forty years Joseph Jovite "J.J." Salvas was actively engaged in the staging and direction of amateur theatrical productions for French-speaking audiences. His companies were made up largely of Biddeford people, and they played to enthusiastic audiences locally and throughout New England. Felix Coulombe (his cousin, Conrad, as well as Mr. and Mrs. John B. Joncas), were amongst the many active members of this vibrant local theater community. The materials donated by Salvas and Coulombe make up the basis of this collection, which tells the story of Biddeford's incredibly rich theatrical tradition. The photographs, posters and programs in the collection reveal some of the players and the well-known plays they appeared in. They form an interesting part of Biddeford's social history, and showcase the talents of numerous local women and men who spent their non-working hours actively engaged in Biddeford's cultural life.

    Creator (cre): Salvas, Joseph Jovite
    Creator (cre): Coulombe, Felix
    1890 to 1991
    Source Language
    4 Boxes (2.42 linear feet)
    Biographical and Administrative History

    Joseph Jovite "J.J." Salvas (1894-1970) was born in Biddeford, the son of Rock and Malvina (Desautel) Salvas. He worked in the insurance and real estate business until his retirement in 1962. He was married to Marie Ella Amnotte in June 1915, and they had 5 children-four daughters and one son, all but one of which remained locally. Although his obituary makes no mention of his theatrical pursuits, Salvas was involved in acting, directing, and producing for nearly 40 years. Cousins Felix Coulombe (1889-1967) and Conrad Coulombe (1902-1966) were both born in Canada and immigrated to the U.S. with their families, as many French Canadians did at the time. Both men worked for the textile industry (Felix worked for 50 years at the Pepperell Mills, Conrad worked for 25+ years at the Saco-Lowell Shops), and lived in Biddeford until their deaths. They were also both incredibly active in the local theater scene, as evidenced by their prolific amateur careers. Similarly to J.J. Salvas, there was no mention of their immense theatrical lives in their obituaries. Jean-Baptiste "John B." Joncas (1875-1962) was another Canadian-born immigrant who lived and worked most of his life in Biddeford. Joncas was born in Quebec, and when he was young worked at the Libby Department Store in Biddeford. He later worked for the State Department of Agriculture for 30 years, retiring in 1944. Joncas directed, produced, and acted in numerous productions over the years as well, with Salvas as well as others. His wife, Delphine (Talbot) Joncas (1885-1974), was a prolific actor as well and appeared in numerous productions. In contrast to Salvas and Coulombe, the Joncases obituaries both spoke of their extensive theatrical work.


    The original arrangement of the entire collection is unknown, so the materials have been arranged by subject (actors and productions). "Actors" are arranged alphabetically by name; "Productions" are arranged chronologically (oldest to most recent). Large posters and documents are in a flat storage box; very large posters or portraits are stored in the flat file, and the rest of the collection is in standard hollinger boxes in the MSS shelving area. This collection appears to have originally been comprised of the combination of materials donated by J.J. Salvas and then Felix Coulombe, with the possibility of others as well. Therefore, as an artificial collection, any other new theater history materials acquired by the library may be added. Lists typed showing the possible original arrangement of materials are included in the collection file, and that information can be found under the SCOPE & CONTENTS section of this finding aid. Final arrangement is as follows: Series I: Actors Series II: Productions Series III: Oversized materials

    Conditions Governing Access
    Unrestricted access.
    Identifier at Contributing Institution
    MS 49
    Islandora Resource Type