The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Salem Oratorio Society (Salem, Mass.)
Salem Oratorio Society
2 linear feet (4 boxes, 1 volume)
The Salem Oratorio Society
Records include minutes, bylaws, treasurer's reports, membership lists,
announcements, programs, tickets, and photographs.
SERIES I. Administrative Records SERIES II. Financial Records SERIES III. Membership Records SERIES IV. Publicity and Programs SERIES V. Miscellaneous
Scope and Content Note
The Salem Oratorio Society Records include minutes, bylaws, treasurer's reports,
membership lists, announcements, programs, tickets, and photographs. The collection
has been divided into five series.
Series I. Administrative Records includes two record
books containing minutes of meetings from 1870 to 1909; the President's report for
the year 1893, the 20th anniversary of the Society's incorporation; and bylaws from
1872 to 1929.
Series II. Financial Records consists of treasurer's
reports from 1878 through 1907; an account book, and a book of checkbook stubs.
Series III. Membership Records includes lists of
members for the years 1868 through 1909.
Series IV. Publicity and Programs includes a
scrapbook containing newspaper clippings, reports, programs, tickets, etc.;
announcements and programs; and one envelope containing tickets.
Series V. Miscellaneous contains correspondence;
testimonials to Carl Zerrahn; two programs for the 70th anniversary in 1938;
miscellaneous related material such as publicity on guest artists; music for an Old
Folks Concert; programs for other Essex County Choral Societies such as the Newton
Musical Association, the Handel and Haydn Society, the Boston Symphony Players, the
Newburyport Choral Union, the Gloucester Choral Association, the Lynn Oratorio
Society, and the Marblehead Vocal Society; two rolled photos of the 70th anniversary
celebration on March 24, 1938 and a list of people appearing in the photo. It also
includes a leather book cover stamped "Salem Oratorio Society."
The Salem Oratorio Society was formed on November 17, 1868
and was incorporated on July 7, 1873. Francis H. Lee was the most active in
organizing the society and Professor D. B. Hagar was the first president. The
purpose of the organization was to promote education in the higher departments of
the science and practice of music. It had about 300 members at its inception.
The first concert, a performance of Haydn's Creation, was given on February 11, 1869, and the second was a
repetition of this same work on March 17, 1869. The first season closed with a
miscellaneous concert on April 23rd.
Most concerts were presented at Mechanic Hall at the corner of Essex and Crombie
Streets in Salem, until it was destroyed by fire in 1905. Concerts were given under
the auspices of the Society in Salem by the Boston Symphony Orchestra during the
seasons of 1883-1884, 1884-1885, and 1892-1893; by the Cecelia Society of Boston,
season of 1892-1893; and by the Walter Damrosch Orchestra, season of 1892-1893.
The most recent item in the collection is a program dated 1943, the 75th Diamond
Jubilee season. It is not known when the society disbanded.
This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons,
or places should search the catalog using these headings.
Zerrahn, Carl, 1826-1909
Restrictions on Access
This collection is open for research use.
Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in
writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex
Salem Oratorio Society Records, MSS 250, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum,
The provenance of this collection is unknown. The 70th Anniversary programs (B4 F4)
were a 1938 gift of Willis H. Ropes. A Joshua Phippen concert program was removed to
Collection processed by Marion Clark, July 1990. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, November
Osgood, Charles S., and H. M. Batchelder. Historical Sketch of
Salem 1626-1879. Salem: Essex Institute, 1879.
Whipple, George M. "A Sketch of the Musical Societies of Salem." Essex Institute Historical Collections. Salem: Essex
Institute, Vol. 23, 1886.