Ruth Crawford at Elmhurst College


A Photo Documentary


Created by Dr. Mark Harbold

from The 1927 Elms
Elmhurst, Ill.: Elmhurst College, 1927

Crawford at Elmhurst
Elmhurst College Catalog
The College Campus
Contact Information

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Ruth Crawford at Elmhurst College

Elmhurst College is proud to call Ruth Crawford Seeger “one of our own.” After completing her studies at the American Conservatory, she taught in the Elmhurst College School of Music for three years, from its inception in 1926 until 1929. The college catalogs from those years list her as “Professor of Piano, Harmony, Counterpoint, and Orchestration,” and her portrait (see above) appears with photos of other Conservatory faculty in college yearbooks from 1927, 1928, and 1929. In spite of her elevated rank, she was essentially an adjunct faculty member. Nonetheless, working in Elmhurst provided steady work and enhanced access to her good friend Carl Sandburg, an Elmhurst resident in those years. As an aside, theologian H. Richard Niebuhr served as Elmhurst College’s President during the years Ruth Crawford taught at Elmhurst College.

The School of Music itself, forerunner to our current Music Department Preparatory Program, was intertwined with the college’s music department in various ways, but was geared more toward community members than to students enrolled at Elmhurst College. In the words of The Elmhurst College Bulletin: Annal Catalogue from 1927—

    The Elmhurst College School of Music was opened September 1, 1926. The teaching of music at Elmhurst College is not a new departure, since a department of music has been included in the college since the inception of the school.
    The School of Music was founded, however, in order that instruction in music might be made available for students who are not registered primarily in the academy or college of liberal arts, and to provide instruction in all the departments of music.
    The home of the School of Music is in Irion Hall, where offices and studios are provided. . .

    ...Courses are offered in the following instruments, or departments: Piano, violin, violoncello, organ, wood wind instruments, percussion instruments, brass instruments, voice, harmony, counterpoint, public speaking and dramatic art.
    A course in the appreciation of music is offered to students in the college of liberal arts and is also available for students in the school of music who are not otherwise enrolled in the college.

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Photo Documentary—Elmhurst College Bulletin: Annual Catalogue

May 1927
May 1928
May 1929

The college catalogs from 1927, 1928, and 1929 each provide three references to Ruth Crawford. She is named once near the beginning of each catalog in a complete list of officers of instruction at Elmhurst College. This listing indicates her rank, areas of expertise, education, teaching experience, and years of service at Elmhurst College. Later in each catalog, in the School of Music pages, her name appears twice. First mention comes in the listing of School of Music faculty, which indicates her rank and areas of specialization; second mention comes where tuition rates are listed for each instructor in the School of Music. The 1927 Catalog identifies Crawford as “Professor of Piano, Harmony and Counterpoint,” while the 1928 and 1929 Catalogs list her as “Professor of Piano, Harmony, Counterpoint and Orchestration.” In 1927, Crawford’s fee for an 18-week semester in Piano was $45.00, while in 1928 and 1929 she charged $2.50 per lesson in the areas of Piano, Harmony, Counterpoint. Follow the links above to view pertinent pages from the 1927, 1928, and 1929 catalogs.

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Photo Documentary—The Elmhurst College Campus

Irion Hall
School of Music
College Chapel
Old Main

The Elmhurst College Archive contains no photographs of Ruth Crawford. The only image of her is Carl Bohnen’s “drawing from life” (see above), found in several college yearbooks, including The 1927 Elms and The 1928 Elms. Nonetheless, these two yearbooks contain various photographs of the Elmhurst College campus. To see the corner of campus where Crawford taught as it looked in 1927 and 1928, follow the links above. You can view photos of Irion Hall, which housed the School of Music and the College Chapel, and Old Main, directly across the quad from Irion Hall’s main entrance.

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Thanks to—

Vincent Rock, former Elmhurst College student, who discovered many of these documents in his research for a paper on Ruth Crawford Seeger for Music 344—History & Literature of Music II.

  Page created by Mark Harbold 6/28/01—last updated 6/28/01.