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HUD 3499

Harvard Krokodiloes (Musical group). Records of the Harvard Krokodiloes : an inventory

Harvard University Archives

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Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: HUD 3499
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Harvard Krokodiloes (Musical group)
Title: Records of the Harvard Krokodiloes, 1946-2004
Date(s): 1946-2004
Quantity: 1 collection (24 cubic feet (32 document boxes, 3 portfolio boxes, 1 portfolio folder, 11.5 record cartons, 7 card cartons)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: The Krokodiloes is Harvard University's oldest a cappella singing group. It was founded as a quartet in spring of 1946 by David Binger (A.B. 1948) and Arthur Boylston Nichols III (A.B. 1948), both recently returned from service in World War II. The collection includes songs and lyrics, administrative and fund-raising records, records pertaining to the group's tours, recordings, and posters.

Acquisition Information:

  • Accession number: 10708; 1986 April 29.
  • Accession number: 10715; 1986 May 8.
  • Accession number: 11573; 1988 November 29.
  • Accession number: 12012; 1990 July 20.
  • Accession number: 13405; 1996 November 4.
  • Accession number: 13732; 1998 March 16.
  • Accession number: 11869; 1989 December 1.
  • Accession number: 14548; 2002 April 17.
  • Accession number: 14549; 2002 April 17.
  • Accession number: 14556; 2002 May 10.
  • Accession number: 14604; 2002 July 18.
  • Accession number: 14663; 2002 October 16.
  • Accession number: 14714; 2002 December 19.
  • Accession number: 14772; 2003 April 8.
  • Accession number: 14773; 2003 April 11.
  • Accession number: 14793; 2003 May 20.
  • Accession number: 14845; 2003 July 23.
  • Accession number: 14914; 2003 October 10.
  • Accession number: 14930; 2003 November 17.
  • Accession number: 15052; 2004 June 14.
  • Accession number: 16049; 2004 October 25.
  • Accession number: 16051; 2004 October 29.
  • Accession number: 17520; 2006 October 19.
  • Custodial Information:

    This collection came to the university archives in numerous accruals and may include material whose acquisition was not recorded. Accruals are expected in the future.

    Processing Information:

    This collection is a growing one and its arrangement and description have 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. Details on the processing of each series or subseries are noted below.

    Conditions on Use and Access:

    Access to unpublished archival records is restricted for 50 years from the date of the creation of the record(s). See the reference staff for details. No restrictions on access apply to published records.

    Allied Material

    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 service in World War II. They recruited Frank Cabot (A.B. 1949) and David Biddle (A.B. 1949) who had sung in a quartet at Groton.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 Indians. 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

    Scope of the Records of the Harvard Krokodiloes

    The Records of the Harvard Krokodiloes document the history and activities of this a cappella musical group. Notable among the records are the musical scores which contain not only standard tunes and lyrics, but also satirical customized lyrics arranged and sung by the Krokodiloes. In addition, this collection also contains a large number of Krokodiloes recordings. The paper records document Krokodiloes concerts, trips, anniversaries, and administrative matters.

    Inventory update

    This document last updated 2016 October 13.

    Container List


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