Sousa Archives Acquires the American School Band Directors’ Association Records

A photograph of five men wearing tuxedos, facing the camera.
From left to right: Dale C. Harris, Edwin Franko Goldman, William D. Revelli, Earl V. Moore, and Philip J. Lang.

The Sousa Archives has been enjoying the processing of the newly acquired American School Band Directors’ Association Records. Founded in 1953, the American School Band Directors’ Association (ASBDA) is a professional association of band directors teaching at the public-school level. The organization strives to represent and support school band directors and band programs, serving as a forum to exchange ideas, advance the standard of school bands performance practice, and promote the importance of these student ensembles in public school curriculum.

While the collection extensively documents much of the ASBDA’s important work, something we have particularly enjoyed finding are instances when its content intersects with the Center’s Sousa collections that we already hold. One fun discovery was that during the 1960s and again in 1989, the ASBDA recorded some of John Philip Sousa’s marches as part of an educational project. The initial recording project was done with Dr. Frank Simon, one of the Sousa Band’s cornetist soloists, who recorded high school students’ performing a selection of Sousa’s marches for the 1965 ASBDA convention. In 1989, the ASBDA returned to the project, working with The United States Army Band, directed by Colonel Eugene W. Allen, and released a new recording of these same marches that were included in ASBDA’s original 1960 recording. This project illustrates the continued importance of Sousa’s marches in public school band education in the United States.

Another fascinating connection to broader American band history is the correspondence between the first ASBDA president, Dale Harris, and Edwin Franko Goldman. Goldman was one of the most influential band directors of the early 20th century, and he features in many of the collections at the Sousa Archives. Harris wrote to Goldman when he decided to establish the ASBDA, and kept Goldman’s response congratulating him on the effort. Harris also met Goldman when the latter guest conducted the Pontiac High School Band in 1952, as shown in the photograph above.

As we continue processing this collection, we look forward to encountering more interesting history about America’s unique school band movement, as well as providing researchers with the opportunity to explore the records of this important organization. To learn more about the American School Band Directors Association Records, check out the finding aid here.

Updated on