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COLLECTION Identifier: HUD 3499

Records of the Harvard Krokodiloes

Overview

Founded in 1946, the Harvard Krokodiloes is Harvard University's oldest a cappella singing group. The Records of the Harvard Krokodiloes, including video and sound recordings, correspondence, photographs, concert posters, playbills, and sheet music, document the Krokodiloes' musical performances and concert tours in the United States and overseas. The records also document the founding and history of the Krokodiloes and the group's administrative activities.

Dates

  • 1946-2018 and undated

Creator

Researcher access

Open for research with the following exceptions: Administrative records and unpublished archival records are restricted for 50 years. Personnel and student records are closed for 80 years.

Additional access restrictions may apply to specific portions of the collections.

Specific restrictions are noted at the folder level.

No restrictions on access apply to published records.

Extent

44.37 cubic feet (49 document boxes, 22 flat boxes, 18.5 record cartons, 9 pamphlet binders, 7 card cartons, 6 portfolio folders, 5 folders, 3 portfolio boxes, 3 accordion folders, 1 compact disc box, 1 phonograph record)
The Records of the Harvard Krokodiloes document the musical activities of Harvard University's oldest a cappella singing group from 1946 to 2018. The bulk of the records, including video and sound recordings, concert posters, and playbills, chronicle Krokodiloes's concert tours, including overseas (Europe, Asia, and the Middle East) and at Harvard University's Sanders Theatre performing with a wide variety of college musical groups including the Harvard's Radcliffe Pitches, Opportunes, Veritones, and Din and Tonics, Princeton University's Nassoons, Tigerlilies, and Tigertones, and the Yale Wiffenspoofs, Wheaton College Whims, and Smith College Smiffenpoofs. Other records, including letters, schedules, invitations, and brochures, recount the preparations for Krokodiloes' performances at Valentine's Day jamborees, Fall and Spring concerts, and at Harvard football games. Additionally, the records highlight Krokodiloes' anniversary celebrations from 1986 to 2016. Photographs, slides, and negatives include images of group members at meetings, social events, on tour, and performing. Songs performed by and musical scores arranged by Krokodiloes's members are in the records. Letters written by alumni, scrapbooks, news clippings, and other records offer insight into the founding and the development of the Krokodiloes as a musical group. Records regarding the business activities of the Krokodiloes, including financial statements, correspondence, newsletters, and membership lists, are also included in the collection.

History of the Harvard Krokodiloes

Origins of the Group

The Krokodiloes is Harvard University's oldest a cappella singing group. Although conflicting versions of the group's origins exist, the most popular version is that it was founded as a quartet in the spring of 1946 by David Binger (A.B. 1948) and Arthur Boylston Nichols III (A.B. 1948), upon their return from the military service in World War II. They recruited Frank Cabot (A.B. 1949) and David Biddle (A.B. 1949) who had previously sung in a quartet at the Groton School. At the time, Yale had a fine singing tradition, but Harvard University's was noticeably lacking.

The Krokodiloes claim to be the first of what would become a plethora of singing groups at Harvard University. Originally, their songs came from a Whiffenpoofs (Yale's a cappella group) songbook, but as the group grew, they obtained an arranger and their signature song, Johnny O'Connor. When the group grew to twelve in late 1946, they decided to ally themselves with the Hasty Pudding Club which was gearing up for its first big post-war show. David Biddle had the lead role of John Alden in Speak for Yourself and the rest of the group filled in as the chorus of sailors and Indigenous people. At about this time, the group decided to adopt a name. In order to maintain their affiliation with the Hasty Pudding Club, the group decided to name themselves after the ancient name given the librarian of the Hasty Pudding, Krokodilos. With a small change, this word was transformed into the name of the new group, the Krokodiloes.

Krokodiloes Come of Age

By the spring of 1947, the Krokodiloes had a constitution and a seal which featured a crocodile in a pudding pot, drawn by charter member Arthur Nichols. The group recorded their first LP in 1949, Songs of the Krokodiloes. The strength and prestige of the Krokodiloes grew and they were in great demand for performances and events. Beginning with a barbershop quartet motif, they began to diversify by singing modern jazz arrangements, popular show tunes, and even madrigals. Eventually, the group began to specialize in tight-harmony vocal jazz, which soon emerged as the distinct Krokodiloes trademark.

The actual size of the Krokodiloes has varied over the years. From the original quartet, the group grew to fourteen singers by the spring of 1947. In the 1947-1948 academic year, those fourteen increased to twenty singers. In the 1950s the number of singers ranged from a high of twenty-two (1952) to a low of eleven (1957) . During the 1970s the group settled down to twelve to fourteen members. The tradition of twelve Krokodiloes singers became a standard in the 1980s.

Traveling Krokodiloes

The Krokodiloes have performed for audiences around the world. In the first fifteen years of the group's existence, performances were mainly limited to surrounding colleges in the northeastern United States. International travel began in earnest in the early 1960s and since then the Krokodiloes have visited North America, Asia,Australia and the South Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and South America. One of their more significant trips occurred in 1964 when the group traveled to India as part of the Experiment in International Living, a program designed to bring people of separate cultures together. The Krokodiloes established annual traditions during their first World Tour in 1982 when they sang at the Montreaux Jazz Festival and the American Fourth of July festival in Geneva. Trips to sunny beaches is another tradition of the Krokodiloes. They have visited Puerto Rico, Bermuda, St. Croix, Hawaii, Cancun, and the Caribbean during Christmastime and spring break.

Krokodiloes Claim to Fame

The Krokodiloes musical tradition has been laced with many noteworthy events. When Ella Fitzgerald won the Hasty Pudding "Women of the Year" award in 1982, the Krokodiloes performed with her and for her. Later on, they serenaded other Hasty Pudding award winners including Meg Ryan, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Susan Sarandon. During their world travels, the Krokodiloes have entertained Princess Grace of Monaco and the King of Thailand. They performed at the handover ceremonies commemorating the return of Hong Kong province to China, and at the Inauguration of President Bill Clinton. Appearing on television, the Krokodiloes have been seen on the Arts and Entertainment network performing with the Boston Pops, as an opening act for Paula Poundstone in her HBO comedy, and on Good Morning America and The Today Show. The Krokodiloes have also performed in several major concert halls, including three times at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Finally, many of the Krokodiloes members have gone on to careers in performance. Television star Fred Gwynne (A.B. 1951), composers Peter Mansfield (A.B. 1976) and Stuart Malina (A.B. 1984), and honorary member Leonard Bernstein are members of this select group.

Series in the Collection

  1. History of the Krokodiloes
  2. Business Records
  3. ___Business subject files
  4. ___Business chronological files
  5. Events
  6. ___Alphabetically arranged files
  7. ___Chronologically arranged files
  8. ___Posters and Banners
  9. Trips
  10. Anniversaries
  11. Photographs
  12. Playbills
  13. Sheet Music and Lyrics
  14. Recordings
  15. ___Video Recordings
  16. ___Sound Recordings
  17. ______Long Playing Records
  18. ______Digital Compact Discs
  19. ______Reel-to-Reel Tapes
  20. ______Studio Takes and Album Masters
  21. ______Concert Tapes
  22. Harvard Krokodiloes accessions received after June 2003

Custodial Information

This collection came to the Harvard University Archives in numerous accruals and may include material whose acquisition was not recorded. Accruals are expected in the future.
Researcher use Compact discs, DVDs, motion picture film, videocassettes, digital audio tapes, audiocassette tapes, reel-to-reel audio tapes, mini-audio cassette tapes, phonograph records, and digital content on removable media are closed due to fragility and require reformatting. Use restrictions are noted at the folder level.

Acquisition Information

  1. Accession number: 10708; 1986 April 29.
  2. Accession number: 10715; 1986 May 8.
  3. Accession number: 11573; 1988 November 29.
  4. Accession number: 12012; 1990 July 20.
  5. Accession number: 13405; 1996 November 4.
  6. Accession number: 13732; 1998 March 16.
  7. Accession number: 11869; 1989 December 1.
  8. Accession number: 14548; 2002 April 17.
  9. Accession number: 14549; 2002 April 17.
  10. Accession number: 14556; 2002 May 10.
  11. Accession number: 14604; 2002 July 18.
  12. Accession number: 14663; 2002 October 16.
  13. Accession number: 14714; 2002 December 19.
  14. Accession number: 14772; 2003 April 8.
  15. Accession number: 14773; 2003 April 11.
  16. Accession number: 14793; 2003 May 20.
  17. Accession number: 14845; 2003 July 23.
  18. Accession number: 14914; 2003 October 10.
  19. Accession number: 14930; 2003 November 17.
  20. Accession number: 15052; 2004 June 14.
  21. Accession number: 16049; 2004 October 25.
  22. Accession number: 16051; 2004 October 29.
  23. Accession number: 17520; 2006 October 19.
  24. Additional Harvard Krokodiloes accessions from 2003 July 24 to 2018 May 26 received by the Harvard University Archives are noted in the series Harvard Krokodiloes accessions received after June 2003, 1946, 1960-2018.

Related material in the Harvard University Archives

  1. Additional Krokodiloes' photographs can be found in Harvard University Archives Photograph Collection: Subjects, ca. 1850-2004 (HUPSF):
  2. Photograph of the Harvard Krokodiloes, 1950 (HUM 23): contains a photograph of the Harvard Krokodiloes taken for the 1950 Harvard Yearbook. The photograph is accompanied by a program from the fifteenth-anniversary dinner of the Krokodiloes. The program includes a menu, a brief history, and a list of the Krokodiloes from 1948 to 1963.

Inventory update

This document last updated 2021 January 19.

Processing Information

The arrangement and description of this collection has been the work of many hands. Prior to 1998, Harvard University Archives staff performed some preliminary organization, but they did not create a detailed guide to the material. In 1998, Kate Bowers and Caitlin Roxby re-arranged all the records of the Krokodiloes, integrated outstanding accessions, except for the posters, and created a detailed inventory including a note on the history of the Krokodiloes. After the receipt of ten accessions in 2002-2003, the collection again demanded re-organization and enhancement of the finding aid. Dominic P. Grandinetti integrated the new accessions with the existing records, in some cases deconstructing folders and establishing new folder headings to better organize and describe the material. Juliana Kuipers integrated Accession 15052 into the collection in July 2004, and Dominic Grandinetti interfiled Accessions 16049 and 16051 in November 2004. In September-December 2020 Dominic Grandinetti added an additional 50 accessions to this finding aid including all accessions received after 2003 July 24. Processing details are noted at the series or subseries level.
Link to catalog
Title
Harvard Krokodiloes (Musical group). Records of the Harvard Krokodiloes : an inventory
Author
Harvard University Archives
Description rules
dacs
EAD ID
hua20006

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard University Archives Repository

Holding nearly four centuries of materials, the Harvard University Archives is the principal repository for the institutional records of Harvard University and the personal archives of Harvard faculty, as well as collections related to students, alumni, Harvard-affiliates and other associated topics. The collections document the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard and the influence of the University as it emerged across the globe.

Contact:
Pusey Library
Harvard Yard
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2461