Josiah Holbrook, a teacher and lecturer, founded the first lyceum in 1826 in Millbury, Massachusetts. Lyceums were basically an early form of organized adult education. By 1831, over 800 lyceums existed. At first the lyceums were local organizations with speakers supplied by the community. By 1840 they had become professional institutions that hired outside, free-lance lecturers.
In 1868, James Redpath established the Boston Lyceum Bureau, where he secured high lecture fees for his celebrities. Redpath wanted to have entertainers as well as just lecturers or musicians. It was not easy since many lecturers appeared in church halls. Magicians would therefor feature music as part of their act.
Many of the early lyceum magicians, such as Joseffy who played the violin, were also musicians. Others, hired musical acts to appear with them. Walter Floyd, claiming to be the "First Magician in the Lyceum Field", in 1881, presented "An Evening of Merriment, Melody and Mystification".
Among the magicians who are known to have toured as lyceum performers are: E. Clinton Adams, Anderson, Argus, Frank Armitage, Al Baker, Barton, Becker, Edgar Bergen, Bernilo, McDonald Birch, Harry Boughton (Blackstone), Evans Brown, Edwin Brush, Clinton Burgess, Caldwell, Loring Campbell, Black Carl, Carter, Chas. Craig, Richard Davis, DeJen, DeVilliers, Chas. Dietric, Frank Ducrot, John Duffy, Durno, Duval Bros., Ellwood, El Roy, Ferrante, Paul Fleming, Walter Floyd, Fox Novelty Company, Fredrik, Wm. Friedell, Eugene Frye, John Frye, Germain, Haenchen, Harrell, Hendrickson, S. S. Henry, Hlavin, Homar, Houston, Rupert Howard, Dr. H. Sheng Huang, Ralph W. Hull, Phil Hunter, Hurd, Jean Irving, Arthur Irwin, Jansen (Dante), Joseffy, James Kater, L. Krieger, Kringsborg, Frank Lane, Laurant, The Great Lee, Lightner, Lockman, Mandy, Marco, Mardoni, Mario, Maro, Matt Martin, Hal Merton, The Milburns, Arthur J. Moose, Silent Mora, The Morphets, Ray Newton, Nicola, C. Porter Norton, W. Byrd Page, Pereira, W. J. Poluhni, Powell, Ramona, Elmer Ransom, Razoux, Madame Reno, Reno, Ritchie, Roltaire, Rosani, J. W. Sargent, Seymour, Showe, Shungopavi, Bennett Springer, George Staples, Lee Stewart, Herbert Tabor, Tarbell, Herbert Taylor, Totten, Ulrich, Van Wagner, E. M. Vernilo, Dana Walden, Wallace, Robert Wassmann, Wilfrid C. Wilson, and Wood.
- See also: Chautauqua.