Earliest Virginia Glee Club concert program

I got a digital download the other day from the Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia. It contained what I’ve jokingly been calling my Historian’s Christmas present–high resolution scans of ten artifacts from the Glee Club’s archives, which have been donated to Special Collections over the years and have therefore been less accessible to Club. One of the items was of particular interest: the earliest known Glee Club concert program, dated December 1891.

Let’s put that in context for a second. This concert happened a mere 20 years after the Glee Club’s founding, and a few years before its first significant tours in 1893. It was before the authoring of the Good Old Song. It was before Thomas Jefferson’s original Rotunda burned to the ground. In fact, the concert was held in the Public Hall, which was the large auditorium in the Annex that was totally consumed by the fire and never rebuilt.

I had known that the concert program existed, because a scan from it was used to illustrate a library exhibit on American song. But that scan was only of the cover. The library digitized both sides for us, including the program and list of members. In doing so, it gave us one of our earliest full Glee Club rosters, and a rare glimpse at the repertoire performed back in the banjo & mandolin days.

Oh–I’ve also been able to do some mini-bios of the Club members listed as officers. See the articles on W. H. Sweeney, W. P. Shelton, W. S. Stuart, Charles L. DeMott, and O. W. Catchings. I particularly like the history on DeMott’s involvement with the founding of the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club.

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