Although theatre at the University of North Dakota has a rich history, a formal Theatre Arts Department did not exist prior to 1971. Frederick Koch founded the Sock and Buskin Society in 1910 and directed the earliest plays on campus. The society received national newspaper coverage after performing "A Pageant of the North-West" in 1914 and "Shakespeare, the Playmaker" in 1916. Koch became an in demand Chautauqua lecturer before leaving UND for the University of North Carolina in 1918.
In late 1917, the Sock and Buskin Society formally changed its name to the "Dakota Playmakers." Theatre at UND continued under the auspices of the Speech Department until the formation of the Theatre Arts Department in 1971; Dr. Ronald Engle served as the first department chair.
The Theatre Arts Department Records have been divided into four series as follows:
Series 1: General History
Series 2: Sock and Buskin Society, 1910-1917
Series 3: Dakota Playmakers, 1918-1970
Series 4: Theatre Arts Department, 1971-