Edgar B. Gordon Papers, 1906-1961

Summary Information
Title: Edgar B. Gordon Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1906-1961

  • Gordon, Edgar B., 1875-1963
Call Number: Mss 159

Quantity: 1.2 c.f. (2 archives boxes and 1 flat box)

Archival Locations:
Wisconsin Historical Society (Map)

Papers of Edgar B. Gordon, a music professor at the University of Wisconsin and pioneer in radio education, consisting of correspondence, articles and addresses, books, reminiscences, and biographical material. Pertaining to the program Journeys in Music Land which Gordon developed and directed for WHA, 1931-1955, are news releases, clippings, programs, and reports.

Language: English

URL to cite for this finding aid: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/wiarchives.uw-whs-mss00159
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Professor of Music at the University of Wisconsin from 1918 until his retirement from active service on July 1, 1944, Edgar B. Gordon was long associated with music education programs and with activities for the development of musical interest among the youth of the state of Wisconsin. Gordon was born on March 22, 1875, in Frankfurt, Indiana. His father was a piano tuner, instrument instructor, and organizer and director of singing schools in the community. After graduating from high school in 1893, Gordon studied music in Chicago and for several years taught violin in a private studio. Influenced by Jane Addams, he began to express interest in social work and community development programs. Gordon felt that underprivileged people--both young and old--would find enjoyment and benefit in music. From 1901 to 1906, he directed musical activities in the “Chicago Commons,” an active settlement project. For a year he was director of the Los Angeles College Settlement House. From that position, Gordon went to Southwestern College at Winfield, Kansas. Gordon came to the University of Wisconsin Extension Division in 1916 and became a professor in the School of Music several years later.

Professor Gordon's most extraordinary work was in the field of radio education. In 1921-1922, he presented a series of weekly music appreciation broadcasts--the first educational broadcasts to be given by an American radio station. In 1931, Gordon organized Journeys in Music Land--weekly music appreciation/participation broadcasts for the school children of Wisconsin--over Wisconsin School of the Air, WHA. Although retiring from the faculty of the University of Wisconsin in 1944, Professor Gordon continued to direct Journeys in Music Land until 1955. Between 1937 and 1955, he reached more than one million Wisconsin school children.

Scope and Content Note

The Edgar B. Gordon Papers consist of incoming letters, typewritten articles and addresses, handwritten and typewritten manuscripts, instructional books, reminiscences, biographical data, and scrapbooks. The letters which Gordon received are of two types. A number deal with his activities in music education. The remainder, sent to Gordon upon his retirement from the University of Wisconsin Faculty in 1944, are congratulatory. Several letters are also included in his scrapbooks. The typewritten articles and addresses and the handwritten and typewritten manuscripts are comprised primarily of Gordon's comments on and proposals for music and music appreciation and education. Three manuscript instructional manuals are in the collection--The Technique of Violin Playing (incomplete), Fundamentals of Musicianship, both written by Gordon, and Periodical Reference Material for Music Appreciation Course, compiled by Gordon. A series of news releases, programs, clippings, typescript comments and reports regarding Journeys in Music Land are included in Gordon's papers. The reminiscences describe his childhood, his activities in Chicago, Los Angeles, Kansas, and at the University of Wisconsin, and his work in radio music education. The remainder of the collection consists of biographical material, Gordon's religious observations, two scrapbooks containing newspaper clippings, programs, and several letters, and a number of periodical articles written by or about Gordon.

Administrative/Restriction Information
Acquisition Information

Presented by Mrs. Edgar Gordon, Madison, Wisconsin, March 3, 1965. Accession Number: M65-75, M65-359

Processing Information

Processed by SG, March 30, 1971.

Contents List
Box   1
Folder   1
Incoming letters, 1931-1958
Box   1
Folder   2-3
Letters written to Gordon upon his retirement from the faculty of the University of Wisconsin, 1944
Box   1
Folder   4-5
Addresses and Articles
Box   1
Folder   6-7
Music and Music Education
Box   1
Folder   8
The Technique of Violin Playing
Box   1
Folder   9
Periodical Reference Material for Music Appreciation Course
Box   1
Folder   10
Fundamentals of Musicianship
Box   1
Folder   11
re: Journeys in Music Land
Box   1
Folder   12
Religious Observations
Box   1
Folder   13
Box   2
Folder   1-2
Reminiscences, continued
Box   2
Folder   3
Periodical articles and bulletins
Box   2
Folder   4
Box   2
Folder   5
Biographical materials
Box   3
Folder   1