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COLLECTION Identifier: HUD 3277.5000

Records of the Harvard University Choir, 1822-2006 and undated

Overview

The Harvard University Choir is Harvard’s oldest choir, and has provided choral music for the Memorial Church and its predecessor church for over 170 years. The records document the history, activities, and interests of the Club.

Dates

  • 1822-2006 and undated

Conditions on use and access:

The Records of the Harvard University Choir are open for research.

Extent

0.36 cubic feet (1 document box, 1 sound disc)
The records document the history, activities, and interests of the Club. The collection is divided into two series: general information and ephemera, and records. Documents in the first series date from the 20th and 21st centuries and include newsclippings, posters and flyers for performances and auditions, and programs from performances, including the Sunday services at Memorial Church and the annual Christmas carol service.

The records primarily document the early years of the Choir, 1834-1848, and include the Choir's first constitution along with summaries of choir activities. Scattered records from the 20th century include a membership notification and a list of choir regulations. This series also includes a sound recording dating from the tenure of A.T. Davison.

History of the Harvard University Choir

The Harvard University Choir, often called the University Choir or UChoir, is Harvard’s oldest choir, having provided choral music for the Memorial Church and its predecessor church for over 170 years. While the first mention of choral performance at Harvard comes from the eighteenth century, a formal constitution for the University Choir was not drafted until 1834. However, as the constitution makes clear, the choir had existed prior to this date; the earliest record dates from 1822. Originally simply a group of students seated in the Gallery during the compulsory Morning Prayers service, the appointment of John Knowles Paine as the first University Organist and Choirmaster in 1862 professionalized the choir.

In the early years of the 20th century, the Choir was composed of members of the Harvard Glee Club. The annual Christmas carol service, which remains a beloved tradition, was established in 1910 by Archibald T. Davison, choirmaster from 1910-1940. Davison was succeeded by G. Wallace Woodworth, choirmaster until 1958. Woodworth invited women from Radcliffe College to supplement the choir during World War II; at the end of the 1945-1946 academic year, the choir reverted to being men only. Women were first invited to officially join the University Choir during the tenure of John R. Ferris, who served as choirmaster from 1958-1990.

Currently, the University Choir is Harvard’s only professional choir. Approximately fifty singers, each paid a small stipend, form the Sunday Choir, which performs a wide range of choral literature during the Sunday services of the Memorial Church. A select group of 16 singers from the Sunday Choir form the Choral Fellows and perform during the daily Morning Prayers in Appleton Chapel, one of Harvard’s oldest traditions; the Choral Fellows also represent the Choir on tour.

Acquisition Information

  1. Mrs. Edward S. Wood; January 10, 1906
  2. 17634; 2007 June 15
  3. 2016.006; Frederick Kutz, May 13, 2015

Related Material

Records of the Harvard University Choir can also be found within the Records of the Harvard University Board of Ministry (Harvard University Archives call numbers: UAV 710.213.xx).

One sound recording, Alleluia! [sound recording] : sacred choral music in New England, recorded April 2-3, 1992, at Methuen Memorial Music Hall, can be found in the Harvard University Archives (call number: HUD 6992.89)

Additional sound recordings of the Harvard University Choir are held by the Loeb Music Library and the Morse Music and Media collection at Lamont Library.

General note

This document last updated 2020 May 04.

Processing Information

The Records of the Harvard University Choir were first described in the Harvard University Archives shelflist prior to 1980 and were originally classified under two separate call numbers: 19th century records were classified under HUD 3277.5xxx while records from the 20th century were classified under HUD 3277.6xxx. In October 2008, Juliana Kuipers re-processed the material under one simplified call number. Re-processing included re-housing materials in appropriate containers and the creation of this inventory.
Link to catalog
Title
Harvard University. Choir. Records of the Harvard University Choir : an inventory
Author
Harvard University Archives
EAD ID
hua30008

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
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2461