Jamestown’s Music Study Club Anniversary By Victoria Parker, Fenton History Center Collections Assistant
October 30th marks the anniversary of the creation of the Music Study Club here in Jamestown. Founded in 1908, this club was created for, according to their bylaws, “the study of music in all it’s branches and for the mutual improvement of its members.”
Pictured is an assortment of Annual Booklets from the Music Study Club of Jamestown. These booklets hold the meeting schedule for the year, annual membership list for the organization, and the bylaws of the club. At the time of their dissolution at the end of their 97th season in 2005, records were brought here to the Fenton History Center. Along with the yearly booklets we also received a wooden gavel, used at meetings, a ballot box and white and black voting balls used in the selection of new members, and an audio recording of a performance done for the Music Study Club.
Founders Mrs. John M. Cushman and Miss Adelia G. Underwood created this all female group. Meetings were held monthly at various locations. In the mid 1950’s meetings were held at either in homes of members, or in the YWCA auditorium. By 2005, when the group disbanded, meetings were being held at the Marvin Community House. The Music Study Club took membership very seriously. According to the bylaws existing members could nominate new members for consideration. Voting was then held to select the new members. No one was invited to join until all members of the club approved. The earlier version of the bylaws also limited membership to 200 total members.
The second Wednesday, and later the second Tuesday, of each month members of the Music Study Club came together to learn about a different composer or musical style. A paper was written on each topic and presented at the meeting, followed by a discussion. Records indicate concerts were held frequently to experience more types of music.
The Music Study Club was also active in the community. Each year they awarded scholarships to students who were planning to study music from any south or central county school. Students were nominated for consideration for these funds by their music teachers. A committee formed by members of the club awarded scholarships, including the funds for the Mollie McKee Scholarship, named for a former club member. This scholarship lives on past the life of the Music Study Club and is now awarded yearly to a Jamestown High School graduate by the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation.