University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Newark Music Society

1923 - 1945


Manuscript Collection Number: 235
Accessioned: {Accessioned}
Extent: (.3 linear ft.)
Content: Organizational documents, concert progams
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: April 1991by B.C. Mayes; revised January 2002.

for reference assistance email Special Collections
or contact:

Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
(302) 831-2229

Table of Contents

Biographical Note

In December of 1923, a small group of prominent Newark, Delaware, citizens met at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Walter Hullihen to discuss the formation of an organization that would “promote good music” in the town of Newark. The resultant organization – the Newark Music Society – played a significant role in the cultural life of the community during its twenty-six years of existence.

The Society began as a small cultural organization which met a few times each year at the home of a member After a business meeting an informal “musicale” concert featuring local talent was performed and refreshments were served. Gradually, the Society undertook more demanding projects such as sponsorship and promotion of music training in the public schools, fund-raising for the town bandstand, and a series of formal concerts under Society auspices which featured professional artists of moderate renown.

These projects were costly and not always financially successful. The Society experienced some fiscal difficulties during the late 1920s, but managed to continue a series of concerts featuring student talent from the Curtis Institute of Music (Philadelphia) from 1930 to 1941. Amongst these programs were early student performances by such notable artists as pianists Jorge Bolet and Ralph Berkowitz, and oboist John DeLancie.

The Curtis concerts were replaced by a series of recitals by local artists, an irregular “Artists series” of concerts by lesser-known professional musicians, and a return to the home “musicales” of the Society’s earlier years. By this time, however, membership was in a steady state of decline and the Society had lost the enthusiasm that had marked its earlier years. Finally, when the University of Delaware undertook sponsorship of its own concert series, the Society seemed to have lost its reason for existence. The Society disbanded and declared itself defunct in September, 1945.


Baker, T.A. Unpublished letter to W.D. Lewis, 3 April 1961. Morris Library, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware.
(Ask manuscripts librarian.)


Scope and Content Note

The Newark Music Society Records consist of all of the known organizational papers generated by the Society during its activity and maintained in the Society’s “secretary book” by Miss Freda Ritz, secretary of the society from 1924 – 1945. These include the organization’s constitution; minutes of the Society’s organizational, annual and committee meetings; annual reports of the president and treasurer; announcements and press releases; and several programs from Society “musicales” and concerts given under Society auspices. The papers range between the years 1923 and 1945 with the bulk of the business and related papers dated within the spans 1923-1926 or 1935- 1940. Programmes run continuously from 1924 to 1945.

The papers may be of primary use to researchers in both the social sciences and the humanities. From a sociological outlook, the chronology of events detailed in the business papers may be viewed as a case study of U.S. small-city social life during the 1920s and 1930s. The minutes are detailed records of events both within and outside of the Society. Additionally, the reports of the Treasurer offer insights into contemporary pricing for such items as instrument rental, ticket printing, and janitorial service.

A bit of Newark/University of Delaware history may, of course, be found in the papers as well. Many names now familiar to students and residents as buildings – Hullihen, Sypherd, Loudis, etc. – are found within the active membership and committee rosters of the Society. The original membership and executive committee were comprised of Newark citizens with prominent status amongst the community. Also among the papers is a copy of the University of Delaware Review of April 25, 1945 containing a review of one of the Society’s later concerts.

The program collection may be found particularly useful to music and performing arts scholars. The Curtis concerts are representative of one aspect of musical training offered by the Institute during this time period: opportunities for public performance. Several notable performers were participants in this series during the formative years of their careers. The works that these artists studied and the artists with whom they worked can give insight to an individual performer’s development.

Arrangement Note

The papers have been organized into three series. The first series – business papers – is further subdivided into five subseries:

1. Constitution and Society papers

2. Meeting minutes

3. Officer’s reports

4. Correspondence and announcements

5. Membership rosters.

Finally, the subseries of meeting minutes is further organized into smaller groups:

1. Organizational meetings

2. Committee meetings (including the final disbandment meeting)

3. Annual meetings.

Some committee membership rosters are integral parts of the annual meeting minutes and are filed accordingly. Those not associated with any extant meeting minutes are filed within the Membership rosters subseries.

The second series – programmes – is also further organized. The four subseries are Curtis concerts, Artist recital, “Musicales,” and Other concerts. The final series consists of miscellaneous related items relevant to the Society’s history and to the collection.

All items are arranged chronologically within the lowest level of organization.

Contents List

Folder -- Contents

          Business Papers
1         Constitution, n.d.

          Organizational meeting minutes
2         1923 Dec 11
3              Dec 19
4         1924 Jan 8

          Committee meeting minutes
5         1924 Feb 9
6              Mar 24
7              Mar 31
8              Apr 15
9              Sep 30
10        1925 May 13
11             Oct 25
12        1937 May 30
13        1938 June 21
14        1940 June 10
15        1946 Sep 11

          Annual meeting minutes
16        1925 Jan 13
17        1926 Jan 12
18        1936 Jan 23
19        1940 July 8

          Officer’s Reports
20        1924
21        1925
22        1926
23        1940

          Correspondence and announcements
24        1936 [n.d.]
25        1937 [n.d.]
26        1938 [n.d.]
27             Oct 20
28        1939 Nov 7
29        1940 [n.d.]
30             Apr 17
31             Oct 23
32        1943 Oct 4

          Membership roster
33        1935, 1939-40, n.d.
34        1937-38

          Curtis Concert Programmes
35        1935
36        1931
37        1932
38        1933
39        1934
40        1935
41        1936
42        1937
43        1938
44        1939
45        1940
46        1941

          Artist Recitals Programmes
47        1940
48        1941
49        1942
50        1943
51        1944
52        1945
53        1924

          Musicales Programmes
54        1925
55        1933
56        1943
57        1924-25, 1933, 1945

58        University of Delaware Review, April 25, 1945
          (includes article pertaining to Newark Music
           Society recital featuring the Ionian Singers)

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