Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Look Back: The Glee Club Conundrum

As an archive, the Special Collection takes great care in properly labeling our items, but sometimes we get it wrong. Recently, we came across a photo which was simply marked on the back “53-54” and appeared to be a group of male chorus members. Filed with several other photos of choruses and glee clubs, there wasn’t any reason to doubt the penciled dates or that it was the Men’s Chorus.

But when it was noticed that the director of the chorus was wearing the exact same outfit, down to the jewelry, as she wore in a photo of the Women’s Glee Club from 1946-1947, we got curious.  Could it be that this photo was actually a photo of the Men’s Glee Club from 1946-1947, rather than a photo of the Men’s Chorus from 1953-1954?

The first step to finding out was to find out who the women in the photo was. Fortunately, our Women’s Glee Club photo was labeled. She was Kathleen Martinson, a vocal instructor. Checking the Howard College Bulletin for the year 1946 informed us that she was the director of the Glee Clubs. The first mention of her in the bulletin was in 1939 and she appeared in every catalog as an instructor until 1964, which told us that this was her last year teaching.

Caption: Kathleen Martinson, the Glee Club director, appears in both photos and was the sign to the Special Collection that our Men’s Glee Club photo had the wrong dates written on it. She was a professor at Howard College (now Samford University) from 1939 until 1964. 
Since we were basing our assumption that this photo was from the 1940s on our Women’s Glee Club photo, we need to confirm that our Women’s Glee Club photo was actually from the 1946-1947 school year. Since it was labeled with the student’s names, we were able to check them against the student records, confirming that they had attended during the 1946-1947 school year. Knowing that photo was properly labeled, confirmed our suspicions that our Men’s Chorus Photo has was not from 1952-1953, but rather from 1946-1947.

 Caption: Ladies Glee Club of Howard College in 1946-1947. The photo is labeled on the front with the women's names. 1st row: Mya Gravlee, Maude Ellen Jordan, Loretta Rosebrough, Kathleen Martinson, Director, Majorie Sue Barcliff, Nancy Smith, Jimsy Murphree. 2nd Row: Miriam Cockrell, Martha Jean Harris, Anna Belle Counts, Mildred Hughes, Nell Gardner, Ann Breeden, Jane Frame, Evelyn Reed, Patricia Trent, Martha Ann Ingram. 3rd Row: Wilma Rosebrough, Sue Marion, Edith Van Keuren, Margie Perkinson, Iva Nell Hurt, Wilma Simmons, Patricia Parker, Billie Joe Butterworth.

Caption: Men’s Glee Club 1946-1947. Originally labeled with the years 1952-1953

A new label was penciled onto the back of the photograph and our records were corrected. All in the days work when tracking the history of Samford University. 

All text and photographs provided by Rachel Cohen of the Special Collection.

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