This is a finding aid (or, description) of materials available in the La Crosse Public Library Archives.  At this time, none of the materials listed below are accessible over the internet.

Contact the Archives to learn more about using these materials.

Guide to the Music Study Club (La Crosse, Wisconsin) Collection, 1919-1983 MSS 091

Guide to the Music Study Club (La Crosse, Wisconsin) Collection, 1919-1983

MSS 091

Summary Information

The Music Study Club in La Crosse, Wisconsin, began in 1911 as a married women’s group. Soon after, single women were allowed to join. The Club promoted study and appreciation of musical art among its members and encourages the cultivation of music in the community. Men were allowed to join in 1972. It is thought that the group disbanded sometime after 1983. This collection includes yearbooks or membership booklets from 1921-1983, as well as programs, 1919-1950 and many undated, and newspaper articles. While the club members performed musical numbers and programs themselves, they also brought in nationally known talent up through the 1920s. As a result, many performers’ promotional photographs (1920s) and contracts from the 1920s are included that were arranged by Elise (Lovold) Cilley (Mrs. Percy L. Cilley). Some performances were sponsored by the La Crosse Music Club and some were underwritten by Mrs. Cilley herself.
Collection Title
Music Study Club (La Crosse, Wisconsin) Collection
Date of Materials
Music Study Club (La Crosse, Wis.).
Call Number
MSS 091
0.4 cubic feet
Physical Description
1 archives box
Language of Materials
La Crosse Public Library Archives

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Music Study Club (La Crosse, Wisconsin) Collection, MSS 091, La Crosse Public Library Archives, La Crosse, WI

Return to Table of Contents »

Historical Note

The Music Study Club began in La Crosse, Wisconsin, in 1911 as a women’s group. Members had to be married and be able to perform. During the first year, the members studied classical music and the second year began to sponsor a concert. That first concert netted $12 in proceeds and the Club began to contract with high caliber musical artists to come to La Crosse to perform.

Some of the more notable performers were George Truc, pianist and Alexander Debruille, violinist; Rudolph Reuter and Edward Collins in a two-piano recital; Olive Nevin, soprano; Edna Gunnar Peterson-Thompson, pianist; the Pavley-Oukrainsky ballet; Cecil Burleigh, composer-violinist; Allen McQuahe, tenor; Pablo Casals, cellist; Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Charles Norman Granville, baritone; New York String Quartet; Percy Grainger, composer and pianist; and Luella Melius, soprano. Most of the concerts were held at the La Crosse Theater and the State Normal School (University of Wisconsin-La Crosse).

According to an article in 1961 celebrating the Club’s golden anniversary, “One year we faced a budget of $5,200. We got scared and stopped. Changing economic conditions made it increasingly hard for us and besides, fine music was made available on radio.” It was then that Club member Elise (Lovold) Cilley (Mrs. Percy L. Cilley) launched into the concert field on her own and arranged to bring the best talent available to La Crosse by herself until her death in 1932. This idea of the public concert series eventually gave birth to the Community Concert Association.

In 1928, the group became affiliated with the Wisconsin Federation of Music Clubs. Members also performed musical selections themselves, many of them vocal selections, though violin and piano were also popular instruments as well. In 1972, the group allowed men to join. It is thought that the group disbanded sometime after 1983.

Return to Table of Contents »

Scope and Contents

Materials from two estates and the Archives’ ephemera file were combined to create this collection of material of the La Crosse Music Study Club.

From Mrs. Lucille Knothe’s estate came the membership booklets or yearbooks, some newspaper articles and some programs. From Mrs. Elise (Lovold) Cilley came all the performers’ contracts, photographs and many sample programs. From the ephemera file already in the Archives came some more printed programs of past concerts.

While the majority of the material is program based, there is a two page history and several newspaper clippings about the Club. Also, a nice collection of membership booklets (or yearbooks, as they were called) is included from 1921-1983.

Program committee files begin with general files which include sample programs and “stray” contracts as well as agent booklets advertising different talent on the concert tour circuit. Performers files may or may not include promotional photographs, program, contract and correspondence. The file on Charles Norman Granville is the most personnel, with several hand written letters from him to Mrs. Cilley. Other notable performers who have files include Geraldine Farrier, Frieda Hempel, Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra, Sistine Chapel Choir, and the Marriage of Figaro (Hinshaw).

Return to Table of Contents »

Administrative Information

Publication Information

La Crosse Public Library Archives 2005 July

800 Main St.
La Crosse, Wisconsin, 54601
(608) 789-7136

Access to Materials

Materials in this collection are available for patron use.

Acquisitions Information

(Accession no. 2003.039) Purchased at auction June 2003 from the Ken Jenkerson Estate by La Crosse Public Library (thought to be from the estate of Mrs. Elise (Lovold) Cilley)—includes program materials

(Accession nos. 1984.018, 2005.044) Donated by the La Crosse County Historical Society, May 2005 (LCHS acc. P.997.188.05; and 1984-1658 thought to be from Mrs. Lucille Knothe)—includes some programs, newspaper articles and membership booklets

Processing Information

Processed by Anita Taylor Doering and Margaret Donndelinger, July 2005

Return to Table of Contents »

Related Materials

Related Materials

(Clipping file)
 Organizations--La Crosse Music Study Club
(Ephemera file)
 Organizations--La Crosse Music Study Club

Return to Table of Contents »

Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Music Study Club (La Crosse, Wis.).

Geographic Name(s)

  • La Crosse (Wis.)--Societies, etc.--Women


  • Music--Wisconsin--La Crosse--Societies, etc.

Return to Table of Contents »

Collection Inventory

Box Folder

History and newspaper clippings 

1 1

Membership booklets, 1921-1983 

1 2

Program Committee 

Box Folder

General files 

1 3


Box Folder

Burmester, Willy 

1 4

Denishawn Dancers 

1 5

Doris Niles Ballet 

1 6

Farrar, Geraldine 

1 7

Granville, Charles Norman 

1 8

Hempel, Frieda 

1 9

Kreisler, Fritz 

1 10

Marriage of Figaro (Hinshaw) 

1 11

Melius, Luella 

1 12

Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra 

1 13

New York String Quartet 

1 14

Nielson, Alice 

1 15

Schlusnus, Heinrich 

1 16

Schumann-Heink, Ernestine 

1 17

Sistine Chapel Choir 

1 18

Spalding, Albert 

1 19

Ted Shawn Dancers 

1 20


1 21

Whiteman, Paul and his Orchestra 

1 22
Box Folder

Programs, 1919-1950 

1 23-24