Handel Oratorio Society Records

MSS 231
approximately 3.5 linear feet




English, Swedish


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection. Audiovisual materials may be inaccessible pending reformatting. Contact Special Collections for more information.

Access points:

Handel Oratorio Society.
Choral Societies -- Illinois -- Rock Island -- History.
Wuorinen, Charles.
Augustana College (Rock Island, Ill.)--Choral organizations.

Finding aid prepared by:

Allison James, 2007. Revised by Kelsey O'Connell, 2010. Updated by Caroline McPherson, January 2015.


Augustana College Special Collections
Thomas Tredway Library
639 38th Street
Rock Island, Illinois 61201

Acquisition Information
Historical Note
Scope and Content
System of Arrangement
Container List
Related Collections


Some items related to the "The Celestial Sphere" and the 100th anniversary were received from Dennis Lofton in 1981. The Sacred Performance newspaper clippings from 1966, the Augustana Bulletin Winter 1966, and a photograph of the Handel Oratorio Society from ca. 1966 were received from Donald Morrison, former professor of music and choral director at Augustana College, 1966-1993. He donated these materials in 1994 and they were processed in September 2010.


The Handel Oratorio Society is a choral society comprised of Quad City community members and local college students. It began in 1880 under the name Augustana Handel Oratorio Society and was founded by former professor of theology, Olof Olsson. The Society is most famous for its Christmas season performance of George Frederic Handel's "Messiah," which was first performed April 12th, 1881, and made into an annual event by the early 1900s. Other notable performances vary from year to year and include Haydn's "Creation," Mendelssohn's "Elijah," Bach's "St. Matthew Passion," Brahms's "Requiem" and Durufle's "Requiem." Charles Wuorinen's piece, "The Celestial Sphere," was specially commissioned by the Society in celebration of its 100th anniversary and premiered April 25th, 1981, at Augustana College.

Over a dozen directors have conducted performances over the years, most notably: Edla Lund (1908-1912), the only female director; Arvid Samuelson (1918-1922), credited with the first major influx of society membership; Henry Veld (1931-1966), who brought the Handel Oratorio Society to national attention and procured internationally known soloists; Donald Morrison (1966-1992) and Daniel Culver (1992-present), the two most recent directors.



The Handel Oratorio Society records contain early membership records, minutes, musical scores, performance programs, and news reviews and announcements for The Messiah performances and other Sacred Performacnes. The collection includes programs, posters, and articles about the Handel Oratorio Society's 100th Anniversary. This collection also contains miscellaneous items including photographs, essays and recordings.


The Handel Oratorio Society records have been arranged chronologically into the six following series:

Series I. Administration, 1881-1981 contains copies of the Handel Oratorio Society constitution, as well as record books of their treasury, membership roll, and minutes. The series also contains detailed lists of expenditures, past directors and soloists, possible donors and publishers, and new committee members all selected for the anniversary season (1980-1981). Various notes between committee members and a public memorandum regarding event dates and article publications is included.

Series II. Handel's Messiah, 1881-1994 contains publicity for the annual performance of Handel's Messiah, a score owned by John A. Godehn, a member of the original choir, and four copies of the program from the first Messiah performance (1881), two in English and two in Swedish. It also contains programs for the yearly performance, various articles reviewing the shows, and advertising posters.

Series III. 100th Anniversary, 1980-1981 contains programs, posters and articles reviewing both the celebratory 100th anniversary performance of Handel's "Messiah" and the commissioned work by Charles Wuorinen, "The Celestial Sphere." Also included is Dennis Loftin's ACUCAA Graphic Competition award for the graphic design of the anniversary program, as well as press information released for articles published that year. In addition, copies of the conductor's original manuscripts and score, a tape recording (on Bell Laboratory synthesizer) of the performance's interlude, and a braille edition of the program are included. It contains one subseries: 100th Anniversary Photographs (1980-1981) comprised of black and white and color photographs from both performances.

Series IV. Sacred Performances, circa 1892-1999 and undated contains programs, articles and flyers advertising any sacred performance excluding "Messiah" and "The Celestial Sphere." These include a 25th anniversary celebration of the Society and other more frequent performances like Haydn's "Creation," Mendelssohn's "Elijah," and Brahms' "Requiem" and other various performances which alternate annually.

Series V. Miscellaneous, 1880-1980 contains general news articles about Society members and essays about the Society by both students and Augustana staff, such as Ann Boaden. It also includes information for press releases during the centennial year as well as black and white photographs of the original orchestra and earlier directors.

Series VI. Sound Recordings, 1946-1961 and undated contains several recordings of Handel's "Messiah" from various years as well as recordings from "Creation" and "The Passion According to St. Matthew".


Box 1

Series I. Administration, 1881-1981

Constitution, undated
Treasury Book, 1881-1892
Roll and Minutes, 1881-1944, scattered [7 folders]

Box 2

Roll and Minutes, 1945-1953
Finances, 1980-1981
Membership and Committees, 1980-1981
Donors and Publicity, 1980-1981
Correspondence, 1906, 1974-1981

Series II. Handel's Messiah, 1881-1994

Messiah Score, 1881
Framed Program from First Performance, 1881
Programs from First Performance, English and Swedish, 1881
Messiah Programs, 1897-1969, scattered [2 folders]

Box 3

Programs, 1970-2003 [2 folders]
Newspaper Clippings, 1962-1967
Newspaper Clippings, 1968-1993
Posters/Fliers and Tickets, 1948-1994

Series III. 100th Anniversary, 1980-1981

Commemorative book by Conrad Bergendoff, 1981
Souvenir Programs, 1981
Messiah Programs, 1980
Messiah News Clippings, 1980
Celestial Sphere Programs, 1981
Celestial Sphere Newspaper Clippings, 1981
Celestial Sphere Articles, 1981
Celestial Sphere Press Kit, 1981
Messiah and Celestial Sphere Posters/Fliers and tickets, 1981

Box 4

Photocopy of Wuorinen's Original Manuscript, 1981
2 sets of Conductor's Scores, 1981

Oversize Box 1

Printer's Galleys of Celestial Sphere Score, 1981
Tape of Celestial Sphere: Interlude of Movement 3, 1981
Braille Edition of Celestial Sphere Program, 1981

Box 6

Subseries 1. 100th Anniversary Photographs, 1980-1981

Photographs of Messiah Ensemble, 1980
Photographs of Messiah Rehearsal and Performance, 1980
Photographs of Celestial Sphere Ensemble, 1981
Photographs of Celestial Sphere Rehearsal and Performance, black and white, 1981
Photographs of Celestial Sphere Rehearsal and Performance, color, 1981
Photographs of Wuorinen, Morrison and Culver, 1981
Slides of the Celestial Sphere Performance, 1981
Proofs of the Celestial Sphere Performance, 1981

Box 7
Series IV. Other Sacred Performances, circa 1892-1999

Sheet of selected Oratorio music, undated, circa 1892
25th Anniversary Program, 1906
Sacred Performance Programs, 1885-2004 [5 folders]
Augustana College Alumni Bulletin, article on page 10, Winter 1966
Sacred Performance Newspaper Clippings, 1966-1993 and undated
Sacred Performance Posters and Fliers, 1969-1999

Series V. Miscellaneous, 1880-1980

Society Essays and Articles, 1977-1982
General Newspaper Articles, 1941-1980
Source material from press releases, 1980
Early Photographs, 1880, 1912, 1964, ca. 1966

AV Box 1
        Series VI. Sound Recordings, 1958-1961

C-0231/1: Handel's Messiah, 1958 [audiocassette]
R-0231/1: Handel's Messiah, Tape 1, 1961 [tape]
R-0231/2: Handel's Messiah, Tape 2, 1961 [tape]
R-0231/3: Handel's Messiah, Tape 3, 1961 [tape]
R-0231/4: Handel's Messiah, Tape 4, 1961 [tape]
R-0231/5: Handel's Messiah, Tape 5, 1961 [tape]
R-0231/6: Messiah, 1958 [tape]

AV Box 2
        Series VI. Sound Recordings, 1956-1960 and undated

LP-0231/1: The Messiah by George Frederick Handel, 1956 [vinyl record]
LP-0231/2: The Passion According to St. Matthew, Produced by Lura Stover, undated [vinyl record]
LP-0231/3: The Creation by Franz Joseph Hayden, 1960 [vinyl record]
LP-0231/4: The Messiah, Henry Veld, undated [vinyl record]



MSS 30 Collection on Henry Veld
MSS 230 Conservatory of Music, 1886-1992
MSS 234 Augustana College Choir records
MSS 266 Cultrual Events (1980-1981)


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