University of Chicago Library

Guide to the University of Chicago Band Records 1898-1969

© 2013 University of Chicago Library

Descriptive Summary


University of Chicago. Band. Records




2.5 linear feet (2 boxes)


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


The University of Chicago band performed for university athletic functions and in indoor concerts. The records contain correspondence, drill charts and routines, clippings, and administrative records dating from 1898 to 1969, with the bulk of the material from 1927 to 1942.

Information on Use


The collection is open for research.


When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: University of Chicago. Band. Records [Box #, Folder #], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

Historical Note

The University of Chicago band started in 1898 as the University of Chicago Military Band. It received the hearty support of President William Rainey Harper, himself a cornet player in the band. The first director was physics professor Glenn Moody Hobbs, and the band's first performance was in concert in Kent Hall on December 16, 1898. The band operated initially under the auspices of the athletics department, and members (all men) were paid a modest amount for their service. They performed in uniforms of maroon sweaters, white shirts with maroon ties, white wool pants, and, in inclement weather, overcoats and sailor caps.

In 1922 C. D. Greenleaf, university and band alumnus and president of the Conn musical instrument company, donated 100 instruments to the band. This donation included Big Bertha, the 8 ½-foot bass drum that became a sort of band mascot. Photocopies of articles and photographs of Big Bertha remain in the University's General Archival File.

In the late 1920s efforts picked up to make the band a year-round organization, offering concerts outside of football season. In 1935, administrative and financial oversight and support of the band was transferred from the athletic department to the music department. That same year, accomplished bandleader and music educator Harold Bachman was hired as director. As reflected in some of his correspondence, he was also a consultant to the Educational Music Bureau, a Chicago organization devoted to school music. Despite Bachman's leadership, advocacy, and reputation, the band occasionally had a difficult time justifying its musical bona fides (and therefore its existence) to the department. Bachman's tenure at the university ended in 1942 when he was called to active duty in WWII.

The history of the band is spotty from WWII onwards. After Bachman's departure, the band program largely died out, re-emerging from time to time as a pep band, performing in the stands at athletic events but not performing field shows. The concert band gave occasional performances as well, before the creation of the University Wind Ensemble.

Big Bertha was sold to a Texas oilman in 1955, who had her refurbished. She is now in the possession of the University of Texas Longhorn Band.

Scope Note

The collection is divided into four series:

Series 1, General Records, contains correspondence and memos, financial and insurance records, member lists, and other administrative records and ephemera, arranged chronologically.

Series 2, Concerts, contains programs, correspondence, publicity, and other material related to concert performances, arranged chronologically.

Series 3, Marching Band, contains records of football games and other marching band performances – correspondence, routines, charts, formations, etc. – as well as songs and cheers, also arranged chronologically.

Series 4, Oversize, largely contains newspapers and clippings, many of them brittle and crumbling, and oversize inventory and field formation charts. The charts come first, followed by clippings and then newspapers in alphabetical order by title (all from 1937).

Related Resources

The following related resources are located in the Department of Special Collections:


University of Chicago. General Archival File

Music Relating to the University of Chicago. Records

Stagg, Amos Alonzo. Papers

A collection of Harold Bachman's papers is held by the University of Florida, and records related to his tenure at the University of Chicago band can be found there. http://web.uflib.ufl.edu/spec/archome/MS39.htm

Subject Headings


Series I: General Records

Box 1    Folder 1

Article in Support of Band, 1898

Box 1    Folder 2

Payroll and Voucher Lists, 1923-1927

Box 1    Folder 3

Insurance – Correspondence and Inventories, 1925-1939

Box 1    Folder 4

Other Inventories and Lending Records, 1926-1942, undated

Box 1    Folder 5

Correspondence, 1927-1928

Box 1    Folder 6

Budget, 1928

Box 1    Folder 7

Memos to Members and Prospective Members, 1936-1941

Box 1    Folder 8

Memoranda and Annual Reports, 1936-1942

Box 1    Folder 9

Tower Topics Newsletters, 1937-1940

Box 1    Folder 10

Menus, 1938

Box 1    Folder 11

Member Lists, 1941, undated

Box 1    Folder 12

Correspondence, 1941-1942

Box 1    Folder 13

Newsletters, 1941-1942, undated

Box 1    Folder 14

Budget Proposal, 1968

Box 1    Folder 15

Constitution and Amendment, undated

Box 1    Folder 16

Draft of Memo or Newsletter, undated

Series II: Concerts

Box 1    Folder 17

Concert Publicity –Tower Topics, 1936-1940

Box 1    Folder 18

Fortieth Anniversary Concert – Publicity and Mailing Lists, 1938

Box 1    Folder 19

Fortieth Anniversary Concert – Correspondence and Programs, 1938

Box 1    Folder 20

Miscellaneous Playing Engagements – Correspondence, 1938-1940

Box 1    Folder 21

Annual Concerts – Announcements, Programs, Correspondence, 1939-1957

Box 1    Folder 22

Clark High School Concert – Correspondence, Publicity, Program, 1940

Box 1    Folder 23

Concert Publicity – Mailing Lists, 1940

Box 1    Folder 24

Concert Publicity – Clippings, 1940, undated

Box 1    Folder 25

Correspondence – Concert Music, 1941

Box 1    Folder 26

Fiftieth Anniversary Concert – Correspondence, Program, 1941

Box 1    Folder 27

Wheaton Concert – Correspondence, Personnel Lists, Receipt, 1941-1942, undated

Box 1    Folder 28

Concert Fliers, 1955

Box 1    Folder 29

Concert Program, 1969

Box 1    Folder 30

Annual Concerts – Programs, Announcement, undated

Series III: Marching Band

Box 1    Folder 31

University Playing Engagements – Correspondence, 1927-1928

Box 1    Folder 32

Ohio State Games – Correspondence, Charts, 19257, 1932

Box 1    Folder 33

Jubilee Parade – Clipping, circa 1934

Box 1    Folder 34

Tower Topics – Ohio State Game, 1935

Box 1    Folder 35

Correspondence – Flag Formation, 1936

Box 1    Folder 36

University of Illinois Game – Routine and Charts, 1936

Box 1    Folder 37

Beloit Game – Charts, 1937

Box 1    Folder 38

Princeton Game – Charts, 1937

Box 1    Folder 39

University of Michigan Game – Charts, 1937

Box 1    Folder 40

Ohio State Game – Instructions, Memo, 1937

Box 1    Folder 41

Ohio State Game – Routines, Charts, 1938

Box 1    Folder 42

Harvard Game/All-Star Twirling Club – Correspondence, Instructions, Charts, Clipping – 1938-1939

Box 1    Folder 43

Ohio State Game – Charts, Instructions, Correspondence, 1939

Box 1    Folder 44

University of Michigan Game – Correspondence, Instructions, Charts, 1939

Box 1    Folder 45

University of Illinois Game – Correspondence, Charts, Routine, 1939

Box 1    Folder 46

Oberlin Game – Correspondence, Plans, Charts, 1939

Box 1    Folder 47

Vanderbilt Game – Routine with Chart, undated

Box 1    Folder 48

Various Football Games – Routines, and Charts, undated

Box 1    Folder 49

Songs and Partial Drill Routine, undated

Box 1    Folder 50

Marching Band – Charts, undated

Box 1    Folder 51

Description of Big Bertha, undated

Series IV: Oversize

Box 2   Folder 1

Check, 1927

Box 2   Folder 2

Marching Band – Charts, undated

Box 2   Folder 3

Clippings, 1937-1940

Box 2   Folder 4

Chicago Daily News – Concert Announcement, 1937

Box 2   Folder 5

Chicago Herald and Examiner – Concert Announcements, 1937

Box 2   Folder 6

Chicago Sunday Tribune – Concert Announcement, 1937

Box 2   Folder 7

Hyde Park Weekly – Concert Announcement, 1937

Box 2   Folder 8

Oakland-Kenwood Outlook – Concert Announcement, 1937

Box 2   Folder 9

Southeast Economist – Concert Announcement, 1937

Box 2   Folder 10

South Shore Newscaster – Concert Announcement, 1937

Box 2   Folder 11

Woodlawn Booster – Concert Announcement, 1937