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Elinor Colby

Elinor Edmunds Colby was born in Springfield, New Hampshire in 1903.

She graduated from Stevens High School in Claremont, N.H. in 1920 and attended the New England Conservatory from 1920 to 1923. A piano student, she studied with Alfred DeVoto and Jesus Sanroma. 

She was also a student in vocal accompaniment under Richard Hageman. A lifelong resident of Claremont, N.H., she served as music supervisor of the Claremont Public Schools for two years, taught private piano lessons for 55 years, and was the organist for the Claremont First Congregational Church from 1927-1959 and the choir director for the church from 1948-1959. Colby served as chair for the Claremont Community Concert series, president of the Claremont Dramatic Club and originator of the Claremont Marionettes.

Archival Collection

Approximately one linear foot; 2 flip top document cases and one manuscript box. Records are primarily paper and include notebooks, photographs, a class ring, and a scrapbook.

This collection contains materials belonging to and created by Elinor Edmunds Colby, who graduated from the New England Conservatory in 1923. The collection was donated in November of 1982 and May of 1990 to the New England Conservatory by Elinor E. Colby during her retirement and by her niece Susan C. McKanna after Colby’s death. A folder of additional related materials from the Alumni Office was found in October 2008 and added to the collection.

Access to the Elinor E. Colby Papers is by appointment with the NEC Archivist. There are no restrictions pertaining to this collection.

All copyrights to these papers belong to the New England Conservatory. Permission to publish materials from this collection is granted by the Archivist. This collection should be cited as: NECA 18.8. Elinor E. Colby Papers, New England Conservatory Archives, Boston, MA.

Finding aid compiled by Maria Helena Serpa, Spring 2008

The bulk of the Elinor E. Colby Papers consists of New England Conservatory (NEC) related materials including notebooks, correspondence, examination records, receipts and bills for tuition, NEC concert programs, NEC Bulletins and other NEC memorabilia including a class ring. The collection also includes personal materials that Colby collected or created including letters, invitations, concert programs, photographs and newspaper clippings, and a scrapbook. The date range for the material is from 1917-1990 with the bulk of the material being from 1919-1923.

The Colby Papers are organized into the following five series

  1. Personal correspondence
  2. NEC Records
  3. Programs
  4. Newspaper Clippings and Photographs
  5. Scrapbook

The second series, NEC Records, is further divided into these sub-series:

  1. Examination records
  2. Notebooks
  3. Student Housing
  4. Receipts and Bills
  5. NEC Programs
  6. NEC Correspondence
  7. NEC Publications
  8. NEC Memorabilia
  9. Biographical sketches, Class of 1923

Series 1: Personal correspondence

Box 1 – Folder 1


  • Teas hosted by Old South Church parishioners (2)
  • Class of 1922, Annual Reception, February 11, 1922
  • Class of 1923, Annual Reception, May 8, 1922 
  • Alumni Association Musical Tea, November 12, 1922
  • Class of 1924, Reception, April 14, 1923
  • Senior Class Picnic to Provincetown, May 21, 1923
  • Conservatory Night at the Pops, June 4th,1923
  • Senior Class Reception, June 15
  • NEC Commencement, 1923 (addressed to Ethel L. Cowels)
  • NEC Commencement, 1924  
  • Informal meeting of the Beta Chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon, September 30
  • Conservatory YWCA Halloween Party, October 31

Box 1 – Folder 2


  • Letters to Marion Davison Duffie (2):
    • From Eloise Stoddard, April 7, 1919
    • From Brainerd Crist, undated
  • Letters to Elinor Colby (3):
    • From Ruth Austen, Worthy Matron-Elect of The Baystate Chapter N0. 160 Order of the Eastern Star, written on the inside of an invitation to an installation of officers of the organization, undated.
  • Confirmation for hotel accommodations in Boston on two occasions, June 23rd
    and March 31st, 1930, at the Pioneer, Stuart Street, Boston.

Series 2: NEC records

Box 1 – Folder 3

Examination Records

  • Result of Junior Examination, October 13, 1921
  • Result of Senior Examination, May 19, 1921
  • Result of Final Examination, June 16, 1921
  • Notice of appointment to perform at Recital Class, May 10, 1921
  • Notice of appointment to perform at Pupils’ Recital, March 20, 1922
  • Notice of appointment to perform at Pupils’ Recital, April 18, 1922
  • Examination in Musical History, April 26, 1921
  • Examination in Musical History, May 16, 1922
  • Exam schedule for seniors, dated May 2,1923
  • Notice of Junior examination, October 11
  • Notice of Senior examination, June 14
  • Notice of Final examination, May 15 
  • Notice that students must continue classes even after they’ve passed exams

Box 1 – Folder 4

  • Notebook: Vocal Normal Lessons

Box 1 – Folder 5

  • Notebook: English Literature and The Orchestra

Box 1 – Folder 6

  • Notebook: Theory, Book I

Box 1 –  Folder 7

  • Notebook: Theory, Book II and Second Year Student Orchestra Conducting (informal)

Box 1 – Folder 8

  • Notebook: Student Orchestra Conducting (includes photocopied newspaper clippings)

Box 1 – Folder 9

  • Notebook: Student Orchestra Conducting Second Year Notes

Box 1 – Folder 10

  • Notebook: Stage Development and Folk Dancing (includes photocopied newspaper clippings and one envelope with other written materials left inside notebook)

Box 1 – Folder 11

  • Notebook: Music History

Box 1 – Folder 12

Student Housing

  • Program for Student’s Club “Stunt Show” Benefit of the Scholarship Fund, 96 The Fenway, February 11, 1922
  • Program for Student’s Club “Stunt Show” Benefit of the Scholarship Fund, 96 The Fenway, February 10,1923 
  • Receipt for a two night stay at 96 The Fenway, The Student’s House, dated April 2nd, 1935
  • 96 The Fenway, The Students’ House Brochure
  • 96 The Fenway, The Students’ House Leaflet
  • The Students’ Club member ticket 
  • 96 The Fenway, The Students’ House list of regulations

Box 1 – Folder 13

Receipts and Bills

  • New England Conservatory Music Store: Receipt for “Fifty Studies,” Cramer
  • Tuition Bill, June 23, 1922 
  • Tuition Bill, September 20, 1922
  • Tuition Bill, September 19, 1923
  • Bill to NEC from Hotel Somerset, for use of ballroom and cost of 10 gallons of punch, May 12, 1922
  • Receipt for payment for diploma
  • Tuition Bill, March 6, 1924
  • Receipt for payment of tuition, November 1929
  • Receipt for payment of tuition, February 6, 1930
  • Receipt for payment of tuition, February 6, 1930
  • Receipt for payment of tution, February 6, 1930
  • Receipt for payment of tuition, Febrary 17, 1930
  • Tuition Bill, February 17, 1930

Box 1 – Folder 14

NEC Programs

  • The Conservatory Orchestra and Advanced Students, March 23, 1921, George Chadwick, Director, Symphony Hall
  • Pupils’ Recital, Saturday, October 29, 1921, NEC Recital Hall 
  • Pupils’ Recital, Saturday, December 17, 1921, NEC Recital Hall
  • Representation Dramatique, February 2, 1922, Emma Darmand and Samuel Endicott, Directors, NEC Recital Hall
  • Pupils’ Recital, Saturday, February 4, 1922, NEC Recital Hall  
  • “A Re-“Maqua”-ble Entertainment,” March 23, 1922, YWCA of NEC, NEC Recital Hall
  • Pupils’ Recital, March 25, 1922, NEC Recital Hall 
  • Pupils’ Recital, April 1, 1922, NEC Recital Hall
  • Pupils’ Recital, April 22, 1922, NEC Recital Hall
  • Concert by Mr. Adamowski’s Ensemble Classes Wednesday, May 17, 1922, NEC Recital Hall
  • Muriel La France Song Recital, Thursday, June 8, 1922, NEC Recital Hall
  • Pupils’ Recital November 11, 1922, NEC Recital Hall
  • Thursday Recital, December 7th 1922, NEC Recital Hall
  • Class Day Performances, June 18, 1923, Jordan Hall 
  • Pupils’ Recital, January 27, 1923, NEC Recital Hall
  • Thursday Recital, February 1, 1923, NEC Recital Hall
  • Concert by The Conservatory Orchestra, March 7, 1923; Wallace Goodrich Conductor, Jordan Hall 
  • The Conservatory Chorus and Advanced Students, April 26, 1923; George Chadwick, Director, Jordan Hall (Program includes newspaper clipping about concert)
  • Fourteenth Annual Mason and Hamlin Prize Competition, Wednesday, May 2, 1923, Jordan Hall
  • Concert by Members of the Graduating Class, June 13, 1923, Jordan Hall  
  • Thursday Recital, November 15, 1923, NEC Recital Hall 
  • Thursday Recital, December 20, 1923, NEC Recital Hall
  • Concert by the Conservatory Chorus and the Conservatory Orchestra, May 16, 1924, George Chadwick, Director, Jordan Hall
  • “Konservatory Klub Capers” Thursday March 27, 1924, NEC Recital Hall
  • Clair Wilson, April 10, 1925 NEC Recital Hall
  • Sixteenth Annual Mason and Hamlin Prize Competition, Wednesday April 29, 1925 Jordan Hall
  • Clair Wilson, April 23, 1926, NEC Recital Hall (autographed)
  • Apollo Club of Boston, Monday January 20, 1930, Thompson Stone, Conductor, Jordan Hall
  • Concert in Memory of George Whitefield Chadwick, Director Emeritus of NEC, Jordan Hall, May 19, 1931
  • Roland Hayes, Wednesday October 24, 1934, Jordan Hall 
  • Heinrich Gebhard and George Brown Sonata Recital, Wednesday November 13, Jordan Hall
  • Clair Wilson, Thursday April 5, Jordan Hall 
  • New England Conservatory of Music Production, Hansel und Gretel, Saturday April 25, Boston Opera House

Box 1 – Folder 15

NEC Correspondence

  • From the Entertainment Committee, letter to all seniors with details about the 1923 Senior Reception
  • From registrar, handwritten letter confirming lesson with her teacher, Alfred De Voto for April 7, 1930
  • From Alfred DeVoto, handwritten letter confirming lesson for April 7, 1930
  • From Francis Findley at the Conservatory, letter thanking Colby for notification of a supervisor position at Claremont, June 13, 1930
  • Letter from Colby to Joyce Bynum, NEC Director of Alumni, November 25, 1977 and 2 accompanying programs
  • Letter to Colby from Joyce Bynum, January 3, 1978
  • Letter from Colby to NEC offering NEC related materials to the Library, October 29, 1982 
  • Letter from Geraldine Ostrove, NEC Library Director to Colby accepting the offer of donations of NEC related materials, November 8, 1982
  • Letter from Geraldine Ostrove, NEC Library Director to Colby thanking her for donations to the Conservatory November 30, 1982
  • Letter from Susan C. McKanna, Colby’s niece, accompanying donation of Colby’s personal papers to NEC, May, 1990
  • Letter announcing the installation of Pi Kappa Lamda and Colby’s eligibility to join as an alumna

Box 1 – Folder 16

NEC Publications

  • Insert from NEC Magazine-photograph of Louis C. Elson 1917
  • NEC Year-Book (Course Catalogue) 1923-1924
  • NEC Bulletins: Volume IX, No. 6, July 1927, Volume IX, No. 11, December 1927, Volume XIII, No. 4, May 1931, Volume XVI, No. 7, August 1934, Volume XX, No. 5, December 1943
  • Alumni Quarterly, August 1940

Box 2 – Folder 17

NEC Memorabilia

  • Sketch of Arthur Foote
  • Dance Card, NEC Annual Senior Reception 1922
  • Wallet photograph holder containing two photos: one of Alfred De Voto and one of Jesus Sanroma
  • Four NEC Student ID cards
  • Pass card for NEC practice room 1922
  • Practice Hours Schedule
  • List of Junior Class Officers Class 1923
  • Nomination Form for Class Officers 1923
  • List of 1923 class members and their instruments
  • Score: “The House of the Lord: A Setting of the 23rd Psalm” by Anna Stovall Lothian, piano faculty at the conservatory, dated August 11, 1945 
  • Class ring (envelope)
  • Certificate of Life Membership to the NEC Alumni Association

Box 2 – Folder 18

  • Biographies of NEC class of 1923 (Prepared by Madeline Meredith for the Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration in June 2, 1973)

Series Three: Programs

Box 2 – Folder 19

Other programs

  • Madame Melba, Monday, Symphony Hall, January 17, 1916 
  • The Green Goddess by William Archer, with George Arliss, Schubert Plymouth Theatre, Monday March 13, 1922 
  • Boston Masonic Club Concert by pupils of Charles Dennee, April 2, 1922
  • Christmas Service, Appleton Chapel, Harvard, December 20 and 21, 1926
  • Boston University Christmas Convocation, Thursday December 18, 1941, Trinity Church 
  • The Mason Piano School 25th Anniversary Recital Program, April 10-May 22, 1924, Albany, New York 
  • Balieff’s Chauve-Souris, The Bat Theatre of Moscow, Schubert Theatre (no date)

Box 2 – Folder 20


  • Louise Homer, Sunday, October 16, Symphony Hall (1918-1919)
  • Clara Muriel Larson, Season 1919-1920
  • Mary Garden, Friday, October 28, Symphony Hall (1920-1921)
  • Hulda Lashanska, Sunday, October 30, 1921 Symphony Hall
  • Boston Civic Symphony Orchestra, Announcement of Tenth Season (1935-1936), Joseph Wagner, Director 
  • Berkshire Music Center, Announcement of the Third Season (July 5-August 16), 1942, Serge Koussevitzky, Director, Lenox MA 
  • John McCormack, Sunday, November 6 Symphony Hall

Series Four: Newspaper Clippings and Photographs

Box 2 – Folder 21


  • Richard Hageman, Colby’s teacher in accompaniment in New York
  • Jeanette Anderson, pianist
  • Madame Melba, singer
  • Erno Balogh (autographed, 1940)
  • Jesus Maria Sanroma (autographed, 1943)
  • Alfred DeVoto, with group from the Boston Symphony

Box 2 – Folder 2

  • Newspaper and Magazine Clippings, including obituaries for Elinor Colby

Series Five: Scrapbook

Box 3

Scrapbook: Music & Musicians in War & Peace 1918-1919

The Scrapbook consists of a collection of newspaper and magazine clippings related to music and musicians relevant to and concurrent with the end of World War I. Colby collected the material beginning in October 1918 and ending in May 1919. Also included are 14 catalogs of the offerings from Columbia Records and Victor Records from 1918-1919.

Articles are all music related. Some are directly related to the war, including articles on soldiers/musicians and concerts organized in honor of soldiers. There are articles dealing with the relationship of music to war, the appropriateness and dangers of performing German music, in particular. One such article declares the replacement of the Wagner wedding march with one by John Philip Sousa.

More generally, the articles include concert announcements, pieces on the composers, and musicians of the time.

Composers and Musicians included are:

  • Frederic Fradkin, violinist appointed Concert Master of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1918
  • Bruno Steindel, who was forced to resign as Principal Cellist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra after being accused of un-American sympathies.
  • Amelita M. Galli-Curci
  • Josef Hofmann
  • Henri Rabaud, Musical Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra until 1919 when Pierre Monteaux took over. 
  • Alma Gluck, Singer 
  • Geraldine Farrar 
  • Ignace Paderewski, who symbolically “closed his piano” when the United States entered the war and announced that he wouldn’t play again until Poland was free.