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Elson Club

The Elson Club was founded in 1920 by Miss Rosa Frutman for the purpose of perpetuating the name of the late Louis Elson, and to further the musical interests of its members who are all graduates of NEC.

A memorial in the form of a bronze bas-relief was presented to the Conservatory in February 1926 through the efforts of Ruth Bernard ’20, who, as president of the club originated the idea. The work was produced by the famous sculptor Henry Hudson Kitson.

Louis Elson’s History

Louis Elson had been a faculty member at New England Conservatory since 1880. In 1882, Elson was made head of NEC’s theory department. Known as a writer and a music critic, Elson worked for several of the top music journals of the time including Vox Humana and The Musical Herald, both of which he eventually edited. He was music editor of The Boston Courier and then The Boston Daily Advertiser from 1886 until his death. In addition, Elson was known as a lecturer, appearing before college and community groups throughout New England. In 1945, Elson’s widow established the Louis C. Elson memorial fund at the Library of Congress to sponsor the annual music lecture series.

Elson also published several books on music including The History of American Music, The National Music of America and its Sources, Elson’s Music Dictionary, and Shakespeare in Music.

Archival Collection

The Elson Club Records consist of one manuscript box containing one scrapbook and three folders.

This scrapbook was started by the members of the Elson Club in January 1959. There is no gift information regarding its transfer to the archives.

Access to the Elson Club Records is granted by the Archivist. Appointments must be scheduled in advance. There are no restrictions pertaining to this collection.

All copyrights to this collection 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 20.2. Elson Club Records, New England Conservatory Archives, Boston, MA.

The Elson Club scrapbook spans the years 1929 to 1964.  However a note accompanying the scrapbook states that compiling the scrapbook began in 1959. The scrapbook contains announcements of Elson Club meetings, events, and member events; clippings about club members (some with photos), photographs of members (including photos of Elson Club, May 1940; March 1946); programs of club events, concerts, or member recitals; correspondence; and wedding invitations of members. Contains photos of: Ruth Kratman; Adelaide Hubbard; Lucille Monaghan; Rose Piccione; Carole Blake; Judy Kirkwood; [Schofield?]; [Martha Plagg?]; Rand Smith (faculty); and [Takouhi?]. Also there are three group photos: Elson Club group photo from May 1940 (Sylvia Katz, Charlotte Rogers, Sylvia Rubin, Ruth Kratman, Libby Ellison, Esther Feingold, Rosalie Zollato, Edythe Salum Bloom, Adelaide Hubbard, Norma Frank, and May Cohen); Elson Club photo from The Neume, 1946 (Dorothy Elkind, Jeanette Kaufman, Estaire Kaplin, Natalie Kramer, Rebecca Shriberg, Eileen Cohen, Beth Goober, Toba Schwartz, Barbara Schwartzman): and an Elson Club photo from 1964 (Sandra Thidemann, Dorothy Allen, Sandra Bonner, Donna Harlow, Rae Palmer).

Folder 1 – Contains an introductory note to the scrapbook; handwritten biographical sketches about Elson written by members; and minutes of second meeting of the Elson Club.

Folder 2 – Loose items from scrapbook as described above. 

Folder 3 – Photographs including one of Louis C. Elson; Aristide Cavaille Coll; and two photos of Carole Blake, Judith Kirkwood, Sandra Thidemann, and Carol Powell dated February 1964.