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(1.0 cubic feet: 2 F/O; 1(.5) DB; 1 O/S folder)

by: Erma Jean Loveland and Robert S. Harding, 1987


Helen May Butler, woman bandmaster, directed an all-women traveling military band from 1898 to 1913. "Music for the American people, by American composers, played by American girls" was one of the band's mottoes. Born in New Hamphire in 1873, she pursued a variety of musical studies and became an accomplished performer in both violin and cornet. She announced candidacy for a U.S. Senate seat in 1936.

Scope and Content

The materials cover the career of a woman bandmaster with an all women's traveling military band from 1898-1913, with the bulk of the material ca. 1902. Contents include clippings, photographs, programs, sheet music, hand noted music, posters, post cards, advertising fliers, letters, telegram, biographical article announcing candidacy for U.S. Senate seat in 1936, and "The Flood of 1937" section of the Cincinnati Post, February 13, 1937. Bands included Helen May Butler's Ladies Military Band, Talma Ladies Orchestra, U.S. Talma Ladies Military Band.


The collection was presented to the Smithsonian in June, 1962 by Helen May Butler Young of Covington, Kentucky. It was transferred to the Archives Center by the Division of Musical Instruments May 26, 1987.

Container list

Box Folder
1 1 Scrapbook with photographs, newspaper clippings, programs, sheet music, post cards, advertising fliers. (18" x 11.5")
2 1 Five photoprints & photomechanical portraits, unmounted
2 Photoprints, portraits, mounted twelve including portraits of HMB
3 Music, hand notation - two manuscripts by "Smith"
4 Correspondence, including letter from John Philip Sousa and telegram from C.G. Conn. Six items, plus 1962 presentation statement on Butler band stationery.
5 News clippings, including U.S. Senate candidacy announcement (5 items)
6 Miscellaneous printed items, including The Billboard, May 1, 1915, clipped advertisement, clipping about Cleveland concerts, n.d., & patriotic leaflet with satirical anti-German poems (ca. 1914).
3 1 Sheet music for "Cosmopolitan America," by Helen May Butler, ca. 1904 (10.5" x 13.75").
2-3 Programs, ca. 1902-1904.
4 News clippings and program, ca. 1910-1916.
5 Scrapbook, ca. 1904-1911 (Green-bound, 14.5" x 11").
O/S Fldr 
Copy of poster with march, "Cosmopolitan America", by Helen May Butler, 42 x 28 1/8".
Broadside for HMB's Ladies Military Band, 29 x 20"
Broadside for U.S. Talma Ladies Military Band, 28 x 21"
Copy of Cincinnati Post souvenir magazine "The Flood of 1937".

Erma Jean Loveland and Robert S. Harding, May 26, 1987


Revised: January 18, 2001