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HUD 3277.6000

Radcliffe Choral Society. Records of the Radcliffe Choral Society : an inventory

Harvard University Archives


Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: HUD 3277.6000
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Radcliffe Choral Society
Title: Records of the Radcliffe Choral Society, 1957-1970 and 1976-1986
Date(s): 1957-1970
Date(s): 1976-1986
Quantity: 0.53 cubic feet (1 document boxes)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: One of the oldest women's choirs in the nation and the oldest women's organization at Radcliffe, the Radcliffe Choral Society was founded in 1899. The records document the history, activities, and interests of the Society.

Acquisition Information:

8031; Elliot Forbes, 1976 December 17

Processing Information:

The Records of the Radcliffe Choral Society were first classified and described in the Harvard University Archives shelflist prior to 1980. In October 2008, Juliana Kuipers re-processed the material. Re-processing included integrating and reorganizing the records, re-housing materials in appropriate containers, establishing a series and subseries hierarchy, and the creation of this inventory. All call numbers were simplified.

Conditions on use and access:

Some restrictions may apply, including 80 year restrictions on some folders; consult reference staff for details.

Related Material

Additional records of the Radcliffe Choral Society, including some earlier material, are held by the Schlesinger Library, along with a number of other collections relating to the Society. Consult HOLLIS, Harvard's online library system, for these and other related holdings held by Harvard libraries.
The Harvard University Archives also holds the Records of the Radcliffe Choral Society, 1958-2017 (2017.585), as well as papers of the following faculty who served as directors of the Radcliffe Choral Society: the Papers of Archibald Thompson Davison, 1887-1879 (Harvard University Archives call numbers: HUGFP 126.xx and HUGB D179.xx), the Papers of George Wallace Woodworth, 193?-1969 (Harvard University Archives call number: HUG 4879.xx), and the Papers of Elliot Forbes, 1958-1985 (Harvard University Archives call number: HUGFP 23.xx)
Sound recordings of the Radcliffe Choral Society are held by the Loeb Music Library and the Morse Media and Music collection at Lamont Library.
Photographs of the Radcliffe Choral Society can be found on-line through Harvard's Visual Information Access at http://via.harvard.edu

History of the Radcliffe Choral Society

The oldest women's organization at Radcliffe and one of the oldest women's choirs in the nation, the Radcliffe Choral Society was founded in 1899. The choir, open to all Radcliffe students, was established and directed by Marie Gallison at the urging of President Elizabeth Cary Agassiz. In 1912, the Society joined the Harvard University Choir for Harvard's first annual Christmas carol service, conducted by Archibald Davison. Davison began conducting the Society in 1915, and under his leadership the Society began performing regularly with the all-male Harvard Glee Club and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Other directors of the Society included G. Wallace Woodworth (1925-1958), Elliot Forbes (1958-1970), F. John Adams (1970-1974), Priscilla Chapman (1974-1979), Beverly J. Taylor (1979-1995) and Jameson Marvin (1995- ).
In 1955, the Radcliffe Freshman Chorus was established. Led by a conductor appointed by the Society conductor and open only to Radcliffe first years, the Chorus was intended to provide training for future choral members; Chorus members became provisional choral members in their sophomore year. A child of the Choral Society, and created at the annual discretion of the Choral Council, the Chorus operated independently under the management of the Society and with Choral funding. The Freshman Chorus was superseded in 1968 by the creation of the Harvard-Radcliffe Chorus, open to singers from all classes and graduate students but still intended to provide training in choral music for those with little experience.
In the fall of 1971, coinciding with the partial merger of Harvard University and Radcliffe Colleges, the Society evolved into the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum, a mixed-voice and audition-based choral group, which also drew members from the Harvard Glee Club. Since not all Society members could join Collegium Musicum, the remaining members joined the Harvard-Radcliffe Chorus. In 1974, however, the Society was reinstated as a separate all-female chorus from the Collegium; the Harvard-Radcliffe Chorus was dissolved. (A new Harvard-Radcliffe Chorus was established in 1979).
Today, the Radcliffe Choral Society, along with the Harvard Glee Club, the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum and the Harvard-Radcliffe Chorus, form the Holden Choirs. The Society also now features an all-female a cappella group called the 'Cliffe Notes.

Series and subseries

Scope of the collection

Records of the Radcliffe Choral Society document the history, interests, and activities of the Society. They include some documentation of the Radcliffe Freshman Chorus, an offshoot of the Choral Society.
Records include the Society's constitution, minutes, correspondence, and financial information, as well as tour and membership records and concert programs, posters and brochures. ALl of the material dates from the second half of the 20th century.


This document last updated 2018 May 11.

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