Main content

University Glee Club of Philadelphia records


Held at: Historical Society of Pennsylvania [Contact Us]1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19107

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

The University Glee Club of Philadelphia was organized in November 1933 with seventeen charter members under the musical direction of H. Alexander Matthews, but did not begin performing choral music until just over a year later. The Club's first official concert was January 2-3, 1935, when the members wore costumes and performed a dramatized selection of early eighteenth century Christmas carols. The men who came to make up the club were from a variety of colleges and universities, such as the University of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore College, Bucknell University, New York University, and Cornell University. They performed locally and regionally (for example, in Philadelphia, Atlantic City, and Maryland), and their repertoire eventually included both classical and contemporary songs. The performed for institutions ranging from churches to high schools to conventions, and put on an annual concert in the spring and often a Christmas concert in December. The Club also performed with other musical groups at larger events and occasionally featured female soloists. The University Glee Club's final spring concert was held on April 26, 2012, at the Cathedral Village in Andorra, a neighborhood in the northwest section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The University Glee Club of Philadelphia records include administrative and financial records, concert programs, photographs, audio recordings, and other items spanning from the 1930s to 2012. The collection documents the activities and administration of a musical group that was founded during the pre-World War II era and lasted for some 80 years. The collection is divided into three series: Administrative and financial records; Programs, concerts, members, and miscellaneous; and Photographs, audio materials, and artifacts.

Series I (Administrative and financial records) consists of records from Glee Club meetings, and materials detailing the club’s financial activity. Series II (Programs, concerts, members, and miscellaneous) contains material pertaining to the Glee Club’s performance history, members and membership, and general club history. Series III (Photographs, audio materials, and artifacts) features material that documents the visual and aural history of the Glee Club, member attire, and performance props.

This collection may be of particular interest to musical historians because it chronicles the activities of a music group over a long period and through many important events of the twentieth century. Additionally, the audio recordings will offer musical historians the opportunity to hear arrangements and harmonies used by an all-male music group. Musical historians may also be interested in exploring the concert programs as an overview of the evolution of choral song selection and how it might have been influenced by specific events during World War II, the 1960s, and the 1970s. The programs might also give musical historians an idea of the time it took the club to add a popular modern-day song to its repertoire, and how long thereafter the club continued to perform it. For example, "You'll Never Walk Alone," written in 1945, was performed by the Glee Club from 1949 well into the 1970s.

Beyond musical historians, the member lists, information and news clippings relating to specific members and the large number of photographs in the collection may prove interesting to and useful for genealogists. Historians may also be interested in the collection because it shows the ways in which the social bonds created among collegians continued after graduation, and documents the functions, activities, and culture of a social organization over several decades.

I. Administrative and financial records, circa 1940s-2012, undated; 8.5 boxes, 1 volume

II. Programs, concerts, members, and miscellaneous, circa 1930s-2012, undated; 4 boxes

III. Photographs, audio materials, and artifacts, circa 1930s-2002, undated; 4.5 boxes

Gift of University of Glee Club of Philadelphia, 2012.

Accession number 2012.74

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Sarah Leu.
Finding Aid Date
; 2013.

Collection Inventory

Scope and Contents note

The administrative and financial material make up more than half of the collection. Folders labeled "mixed administrative" contain minutes and other material resulting from or discussed in Glee Club meetings, correspondence, rosters for meeting attendance, information about the logistics of particular concerts, patron lists, a few programs, schedules, and some obituaries of former and current members. Folders labeled "mixed financial" consist of receipts and disbursements, bank statements, the club's financial investment reports, financial correspondence, cancelled checks, invoices, deposit slips, records of membership dues, check stubs, annual club financial reports, and tax material. There are hand-written notes on much of the financial material.

This series also contains one volume of cash receipts and disbursements from 1979-2003.

Correspondence and mixed administrative, circa 1940s-1990s.
Box 1 Folder 1
Mixed administrative, 1967-1976.
Box 1 Folder 2
Mixed administrative, 1974-1979.
Box 1 Folder 3
Minutes, miscellaneous correspondence, 1983-1983, 2003.
Box 1 Folder 4
Minutes, correspondence, administrative reports, 1983-1984.
Box 1 Folder 5
Minutes, mixed administrative, 1984-1987.
Box 1 Folder 6
Minutes, 1987-1988.
Box 1 Folder 7
Minutes, mixed administrative, 1988-1989.
Box 1 Folder 8
Minutes, mixed administrative, 1989-1994.
Box 2 Folder 1
Minutes, mixed administrative, 1991-1992.
Box 2 Folder 2
Minutes, mixed administrative, 1992-1993.
Box 2 Folder 3
Minutes, mixed administrative, 1994-1995.
Box 2 Folder 4
Minutes, mixed administrative, 1995-1996.
Box 2 Folder 5
Minutes, mixed administrative, 1996-1997.
Box 2 Folder 6
Minutes, mixed administrative, 1997-1998.
Box 2 Folder 7
Miscellaneous, music, menus, mixed administrative, 1997-2008.
Box 2 Folder 8
Minutes, mixed administrative, 1998-1999.
Box 3 Folder 1
Minutes, mixed administrative, 1998-2010.
Box 3 Folder 2
Minutes, mixed administrative, 1999-2000.
Box 3 Folder 3
Officer and board nominees, 1999-2006.
Box 3 Folder 4
Minutes, mixed administrative, 2000-2001.
Box 3 Folder 5
Concert locations and directions, 2000-2008.
Box 3 Folder 6
Minutes, mixed administrative, 2001-2002.
Box 3 Folder 7
Minutes, mixed administrative, 2002-2003.
Box 3 Folder 8
Mixed administrative, financial, concert locations, 2003-2008.
Box 3 Folder 9
Outgoing correspondence, 2003-2010.
Box 4 Folder 1
Outgoing correspondence, Christmas concert announcements, 2004-2010.
Box 4 Folder 2
Minutes, annual meeting report, 2006.
Box 4 Folder 3
Christmas concert, handouts, mixed administrative, circa 2009-2011.
Box 4 Folder 4
Outgoing correspondence, mixed administrative, 2009-2012.
Box 4 Folder 5
Spring concert program printing material, 2010-2011.
Box 4 Folder 6
Mixed administrative, circa 2011.
Box 4 Folder 7
By-laws, constitution, undated.
Box 4 Folder 8
Mixed financial, 1962-1977.
Box 4 Folder 9
Check stub book, 1973-1977.
Box 4 Folder 10
General Physical Description note

Small volume in folder with spiral, metal binding.

Mixed financial, 1976.
Box 4 Folder 11
Financial statements, deposits, receipts, 1977-1981.
Box 5 Folder 1
Financial statements, deposits, receipts, 1977-1982.
Box 5 Folder 2
Financial statements, correspondence, reports, 1978-1979.
Box 5 Folder 3
Financial statements, deposits, receipts, 1980-1981.
Box 5 Folder 4
Check stub book, 1981-1985.
Box 5 Folder 5
General Physical Description note

Small volume in folder with spiral, metal binding.

Financial statements, deposits, receipts, 1982-1983.
Box 6 Folder 1
Financial statements, deposits, receipts, 1983-1984.
Box 6 Folder 2
Financial statements, deposits, receipts, 1984-1985.
Box 6 Folder 3
Financial statements, deposits, receipts, 1985-1986.
Box 6 Folder 4
Mixed financial, 1986-1987.
Box 6 Folder 5
Mixed financial, 1987-1988.
Box 7 Folder 1
Mixed financial, 1988-1989.
Box 7 Folder 2
Financial statements, deposits, receipts, 1988-1991.
Box 7 Folder 3
Mixed financial, 1989-1990.
Box 7 Folder 4
Financial statements, deposits, receipts, 1990-1992.
Box 7 Folder 5
Financial statements, deposits, receipts, 1992-1993.
Box 8 Folder 1
Financial statements, deposit slips, 1993-1994.
Box 8 Folder 2
Tax notes and books, circa 1995.
Box 8 Folder 3
Financial reports, 1997-2010.
Box 8 Folder 4
Bank statements, 1999-2000.
Box 8 Folder 5
Financial statements, deposits, receipts, 2000-2001.
Box 8 Folder 6
Financial statements, deposits, receipts, 2001-2002.
Box 8 Folder 7
Mixed financial, 2002-2003.
Box 8 Folder 8
Mixed financial, annual investment report, 2002-2004.
Box 8 Folder 9
Bank transaction book, 2002-2005.
Box 9 Folder 1
General Physical Description note

Small volume in folder with spiral, metal binding.

Mixed financial, 2003-2008.
Box 9 Folder 2
Mixed financial, 2007-2008.
Box 9 Folder 3
Cash receipts and disbursements, 1979-2003.
Volume 1

Scope and Contents note

More than half of this series consists of programs from concerts and member related materials. There are also folders that cover the Glee Club's history through scrapbook pages; loose newspapers clippings relating to the club and its members, including obituaries for former members; and a list of Glee Club presidents from the club's inception in 1934 through 1991 on paper, and from 2000-2010 on the outside of the folder. The remaining folders in the series consists of a guest book from a Glee Club event, material from the Glee Club's membership in the Philadelphia Convention and Visitor's Bureau, signage for presidential certificates and plaques, and a folder of miscellaneous items.

The scrapbook pages contain one photograph, newspaper clippings about the club and its performances, invitations to performances, programs, club newsletters, and publicity material.

The miscellaneous folder includes a brochure about the club and its activities from 1939, lyrics to songs, a club newsletter from 1941, and a list of music the Glee Club donated to the Orpheus Club circa 2012.

It should be noted that the program folders in Boxes 9 and 10 might not contain programs from every Glee Club performance, as there is no exhaustive list of performances in the collection.

One photograph and a DVD of the Glee Club's final concert in 2012 are located with the concert program in Box 10, Folder 5.

Box 13 contains index cards of current, resigned, and deceased Glee Club members circa 1950s-2000.

Programs, 1935-1947.
Box 9 Folder 4
Programs, 1948-1959.
Box 9 Folder 5
Programs, 1960-1967.
Box 10 Folder 1
Programs, 1968-1977.
Box 10 Folder 2
Programs, 1978-1985.
Box 10 Folder 3
Programs, 1986-1996.
Box 10 Folder 4
Programs, 1997-2012.
Box 10 Folder 5
Scope and Contents note

One photograph and a DVD of the Glee Club's final concert in 2012 are included with the program in Box 10 Folder 5.

Scrapbook, October 1934-December 1938.
Box 11 Folder 1
Scrapbook, January 1939-February 1942.
Box 11 Folder 2
Concert and club clippings, circa 1930s-1990s.
Box 11 Folder 3
Language note

This folder contains some newspaper articles in German. Dr. Charles Steinmetz III, a long time member of the Glee Club, subscribed to Philadelphia's Gazette-Democrat, an American newspaper printed in German, and he saved many of the newspapers with articles about the Glee Club.

Members, circa 1930s-1990s.
Box 11 Folder 4
Membership and rosters, 1982-2010.
Box 11 Folder 5
Membership memos, 1988-2001.
Box 11 Folder 6
Membership names and addresses, circa 1990s-2010.
Box 11 Folder 7
Membership, circa 2000-2007.
Box 11 Folder 8
Membership recruitment flyers, circa 2011.
Box 11 Folder 9
Miscellaneous, 1936-2012.
Box 12 Folder 1
Guest book, 1977 April 23.
Box 12 Folder 2
President list, circa 1980-2010.
Box 12 Folder 3
Philadelphia Convention and Visitor's Bureau subscription and membership, 1988-1999.
Box 12 Folder 4
Philadelphia Convention and Visitor's Bureau subscription and membership, 1988-1989.
Box 12 Folder 5
Presidential plaque signage, circa 2005.
Box 12 Folder 6
Blank presidential certificates, undated.
Box 12 Folder 7
Member file, circa 1950s-2000.
Box 13

Scope and Contents note

This series contains a large number of Glee Club photographs, seven audio recordings, and a small box of artifacts. Most of the photographs are housed in two archival albums, while the larger photographs, photocopies of photographs, and negatives are in Box 12. The first archival album, Box 14, consists of photographs the club received from the Estate of Dr. Charles Steinmetz III between October 1996 and November 6, 1996. Dr. Steinmetz's photographs depict Glee Club events, concerts, and a trip to Bermuda during his time as a member of the club. There are also many images of individual members of the Glee Club, though most of them are not labeled with the member's name. The second archival album, Box 15, contains many professional group photographs of the Glee Club over several decades, as well as rehearsals, events, and a performance at Veterans Stadium in 1995.

The audio recordings of Glee Club performances are in a variety of formats. There are four cassette tapes (1969-1985), one reel-to-reel audio tape (1976), and two 33 1/3 records, one of which is a recording of the 24th annual spring concert from May 1958.

The artifacts consist of official tie and coat emblems, pins, and a train whistle sound maker.

Photographs, circa 1930s-1980s, undated.
Box 14
Photographs, circa 1940s-2002, undated.
Box 15
Large photographs (8), 1934, 1953, undated.
Box 12 Folder 8
Photocopied photographs, undated.
Box 12 Folder 9
Negatives, undated.
Box 12 Folder 10
LP concert recordings (2), 1958 May 2, undated.
Box 12 Folder 11
Audio cassettes (2), 1969, 1972.
Box 16 Folder 1
Audio tape, 1976 April 7.
Box 16 Folder 2
Audio cassettes (2), 1983, 1985.
Box 16 Folder 3
Artifacts, undated.
Box 17

Print, Suggest