History of the NEC Library

The Blumenthal Family Library opened in Fall 2017 and is comprised of the Spaulding and Firestone collections.

NEC has been collecting library materials to support the performance and study needs of its students and faculty since its very founding in 1867. The listening and circulating collections of the library were maintained for several generations on the 2nd floor of the Jordan Hall Building until 1960.

Spaulding Library

The dedication of the Spaulding Library and the Residence Hall at 33 Gainsborough St. took place on December 7, 1960. The construction of this building was made possible through a grant from the Spaulding-Potter Charitable Trusts. The library had the name of Harriet M. Spaulding (1876-1954), a former student of the Conservatory from Topeka, Kansas. Mrs. Spaulding née Mason attended NEC from 1898-1900, studying piano with Carl Baermann. After her graduation, she married Huntley Spaulding (1869-1955), former governor of New Hampshire (1927-1929). Mr. Spaulding gained prominence through his affiliation with the Spaulding Fiber Company of New Hampshire. Both he and Mrs. Spaulding, along with his sister, Marion Spaulding Potter (d. 1957), willed their estates to be used for charitable purposes. Subsequently, the Spaulding Charitable Trusts was established. By reason of Mrs. Spaulding's enthusiastic support for music and the arts, the trustees of this organization generously donated these funds to NEC.

Firestone Audio Library

The Voice of Firestone was an award-winning live show that began radio broadcasting weekly on NBC on December 3, 1928. It featured performances of both classical opera and popular music by key vocalists and musicians and also showcased dancers of the era. The show was sponsored by Firestone Tire and Rubber Company and the Firestone family was closely involved. Harvey S. Firestone and his son Harvey, Jr. both hosted the radio version. On September 5, 1949 the Voice of Firestone was simulcast and premiered on television. The show was aired on the radio until 1956, and remained on television until 1963. With its thirty-five year run, this show holds the distinction of being the most successful broadcast of its time.

In 1969 the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company generously gave to the Conservatory the entire Voice of Firestone collection of records, films and tapes spanning years of radio and television broadcasts. The Idabelle Firestone Audio Library, which was a gift of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, the Firestone Foundation, and the late Harvey S. Firestone Jr., was built to house the Voice of Firestone collection and to provide listening and viewing facilities for the Conservatory’s students.

In the fall of 1973, through the generous support of the Harvey S. Firestone, Jr. foundation, the audio and listening sections of the library became the Idabelle Firestone Audio Library at 290 Huntington Ave. The library was named in honor of Harvey S. Firestone Jr.’s mother, Idabelle Firestone, herself a composer. Idabelle Firestone composed the Voice of Firestone’s opening theme “If I Could Tell You” and the closing theme “In my Garden.” The Idabelle Firestone Audio Library was dedicated on November 10, 1973.