Katherine K. Davis Papers, 1908–1981

Vault A20, Unit B5a


Katherine K. DavisExtent: One record carton

Organization: Organized into two series: Series I. Personal and biographical information, 1908–1981; Series II. Compositions and professional materials, [undated]–1981.

Biographical Note: Katherine K. Davis was a prolific composer and music teacher. Born Katherine Kennicott Davis in St. Joseph, Missouri on June 25, 1892, she graduated from Wellesley College in 1914, where she received the Billings Prize for Musical Composition. Wellesley College was one of several institutions where she later taught music, including the Shady Hill Country Day School in Philadelphia and Concord Academy in Concord, Massachusetts. She was also a founder of the Concord Chorus. Davis studied at the New England Conservatory of Music, in France with Nadia Boulanger, and at Thomas Whitney Surette’s Summer School for music teachers. In 1941 she published “Carol of the Drum,” later known as “The Little Drummer Boy.” Other works included numerous original sacred and secular compositions, arrangements, and musical dramas such as The Road to Galilee. She lived for many years on Bow Street in Concord before moving to a nursing home in Littleton, Massachusetts towards the end of her life. Davis died on April 20, 1980 and was buried in Concord’s Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

Scope and Content: The Katherine K. Davis Papers contain materials focusing on Davis’s life and work, and include personal writings, mementos, and correspondence, as well as many catalogs of her musical compositions and other music-related materials. The collection contains personal records, including her 1909 prize-winning high school essay “The Literature of the Revolution,” the 1914 commencement program from Wellesley College, a handwritten autobiographical sketch, and her short biography “Thomas Whitney Surette: A Biographical View.” There are many black and white and color photographs, identified and unidentified, including several of Davis. Collection also includes contents of Davis’s black spiral notebook, which contains a handwritten copy of “The Infinite Variety of Music” by Leonard Bernstein and annotated sheet music. Other materials include genealogical research, passport, materials about Concord life, obituaries, and tributes. Collection contains numerous catalogs of sheet music by Davis, including multiple versions of “Carol of the Drum,” lists of songs and publications, and publicity and performance materials related to her musical works. There are also lists and catalogs of works by other composers.

Associated Materials: Katherine K. Davis Papers [192-]–1980; Thomas Whitney Surette and Concord Summer School of Music Collection, 1846–1981.

Source of Acquisition: Most of the collection presented by Winifred B. Bush.

Processed By: Casey Stirling; finding aid prepared December 2014. Preliminary processing by Gretchen O’Connor, January 2007.


Container List


Series I. Personal and biographical information, 1909–1981:

Folder 1. Correspondence, personal writings, and mementos, 1909–1981 (arranged chronologically):
Two (2) copies of Missouri Society Prize Medal Essay Contest by the High School Scholars and Schools of Equal Grade of the State of Missouri, 1909. Includes Davis’s Second Prize winning essay “The Literature of the Revolution.”

Wellesley College Thirty-sixth Annual Commencement program, June 16, 1914. Bachelor of Arts and Billings Prize for conspicuous excellence in musical composition.

“About Agnes,” [ca. 1953]. Autobiographical sketch handwritten on back of Concord Academy Exeter-Concord Concert programs dated February 28, 1953. Includes transcription.

Order of Confirmation program at Trinity Church, Concord, May 27, 1956. Includes “Obligations of Confirmation” and certification cards signed by Reverend William H. Clark and Bishop Norman B. Nash.

Letter from Aunt Eunice, January 15. [Year undated, likely 1955-1975].

Letter from Davis to Miss Repp of Elmhurst College, September 30, 1961. Includes brief autobiography, description of current living situation and recent trips, and story of watching a Temple University concert on TV.

Letter from Ellen Henshaw at G. Schirmer, Inc. to Davis confirming composition copyright renewal, January 29, 1965. Handwritten notes: “This was sold outright at the start,” “The Lord is my Shepherd copyrt Dec 31, 1937, Oct Feb 25, 1938,” “Copyrt. renewed Jan. 4, 1965”.

“The Dove,” April 1968. Poem with handwritten note in top right corner “Nancy Loring April 1968”.

Copy of Boughton Family Christmas letter, Christmas 1973. Letter to family friends from Bud, Pat, Monica, Stephanie, and Michael Boughton. Handwritten “Kay & Nancy” above “Dear Family and Friends” on top left corner. Letter mentions Bud’s dissertation and research on Davis, and meeting Davis in Concord in October 1973. Original on photograph album page in Folder 2.

Letter from Curator Marcia E. Moss at Concord Free Public Library to Davis, April 11, 1980. Acknowledges receipt of check and biography of Thomas Whitney Surette.

“Thomas Whitney Surette: A Biographical View.” Short biography of Surette’s life and work, including childhood in Concord, his summer school for music teachers, work with Dr. Archibald T. Davison, interactions with students and colleagues, death and memorial service, and lasting impact of his book Music and Life. Includes brief biographical details of Davis’s life as they relate to Surette. Mentions Edward Yeomans, Louis Surette, Jacques Barzun, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jackson Garrett, Ada Elizabeth Miles (Mrs. Surette), Sir Edward Elgar, Dr. Archibald T. Davison, Augustus Zanzig, Mott Shaw, Bob Delaney, Randall Thompson, Aaron Copland, Nadia Boulanger, Catherine Morris Wright, Dudley Carpenter, Wallace Woodworth, Henry Drinker, Kit Adams, John Holt, Arthur Landers. Includes quotations from Edward Yeomans in September 1926 Survey Graphic; Jacques Barzun, Teacher in America; Surette in Atlantic Monthly articles.

Wellesley College 1914 Class Record Report for 1979, February 1980. Update from Davis about living at Littleton House (pages 5-6) and note of change of address (page 32).

Wellesley College 1914 Class Record Report for 1980, January 1981. Note of Davis’s passing (page 16). Tributes from Frances William Burr and Winifred B. Bush (page 18).


Folder 2. Photographs, [ca. 1900]–1977:
Black and white and color photographs of or likely of Davis:
Young girl, “K.”
Portrait, “1908”.
Young woman standing in front of house.
Woman lying on tree trunk, “Colorado Springs 1923 Summer”.
Portrait, “38 or 39”.
Portrait, [ca. 1970s].

Identified black and white and color photographs of Davis with friends, 1954–1977.

Unidentified black and white and color photographs of Davis with others, including Nancy Loring; at home and at piano; with group of schoolchildren; outside a house. Includes photographs pasted to album pages.

Black and white and color photographs identified with dates, 1947-1975. Includes photographs of house in winter, children, women, and families; April 11, 1947 concert program for Nancy Loring pasted onto photo album page with house interior photographs on other side; Boughton Family Christmas 1973 letter referencing Davis pasted onto photo album page.

Black and white and color photographs identified with names. Includes photographs of children, families, group of nurses; Mo. Town 1855 Program for Women’s Club; Christmas card from Don and Carey and family; unidentified photograph likely of Nancy Loring.

Unidentified black and white and color photographs of people, houses, buildings, outdoors.


Folder 3. Genealogical and biographical information, [undated]–1981 (bulk 1976–1981) (arranged chronologically):
Folder of genealogical research by Elizabeth Maxfield-Miller, February 1976. Contains folder for mother’s side and folder for father’s side. Note on front: “Genealogical notes for Katherine Kennicott Davis of Concord, Massachusetts as a present from her friend Elizabeth Maxfield-Miller, Ph.D., Genealogist, February 1976”.


Obituary in Concord Journal, April 24, 1980.

Obituary in The Boston Globe, May 17, 1980.

In memoriam concert program, American Guild of Organists, Brockton Chapter at Cole Memorial Chapel, Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, May 18, 1980.

Acton Monument Company Memorial Contract, September 15, 1980.

Katherine K. Davis: A Memorial Retrospective published by Galaxy Music Corporation. Includes note “From the Desk of Robert C. Pomeroy” noting its recent release, September 4, 1981.


Folder 4. Concord life, 1950–1980 (arranged chronologically):
Articles about Concord, Massachusetts; May 25, 1950 review of Concord Chorus concert conducted by Nancy Loring; 1973 Concord Free Public Library list of Concord authors; Concord Police Relief Association Bicentennial Concert & Ball Directory; Concord Academy Spring 1980 issue.


Series II. Compositions and professional materials, [undated]-1981:

Folder 5. Original songs by Katherine K. Davis, 1952–1978 (arranged alphabetically by title):
“All in the Morning,” two (2) copies ©1955-1956
“All Ye Saints Be Joyful,” ©1959
“Boundless Love,” ©1978, three (3) copies
“Carol of the Drum,” six (6) copies ©1957-1960
“Choristers of Light,” ©1971
“The Church of God,” ©1967
“Come Along, Sweet Liza Jane,” ©1975
“The Day for Bells to Ring,” ©1972
“Hi-Ho the Sycamore Tree,” ©1962
“I Got a Gal,” ©1972
“If Ye Love Me, Keep My Commandments,” ©1964
“Listen in Your Heart,” ©1980, five (5) copies
“Love is Born,” ©1972
“Praise and Glory,” ©1979, six (6) copies
“Sing Gloria,” ©1952
“Stand Up and Sing,” ©1973
“Sweet Nightingale,” ©1952
“To the King of Glory,” ©1978
“The Wonders of Earth,” ©1970
“Who Was the Man,” ©1971


Folder 6. Arrangements by Katherine K. Davis, 1938–1978 (arranged alphabetically by title):
“Amazing Grace,” ©1974, includes handwritten note on top left corner “Pres. Carter’s favorite song, sung at his inauguration Lincoln Memorial”

“Awake, Awake to Love and Work,” ©1977

The Green Hill Junior Choir and Duet Book, compiled and arranged by Katherine K. Davis, with handwritten notes, ©1938. Contains:
“All glory, laud, and honor”
“Almighty God, Who hast me brought”
“Angels o’er the fields were flying”
“Awake, thou wintry earth”
“Bow down Thine ear, O Lord”
“Break forth, O beauteous heav’nly light”
“Christ, when a child, a garden made”
“Comfort, O Lord, the soul of Thy servant”
“Glory and worship are before Him”
“Glory to God”
“God is a Spirit”
“God our Father, Lord of Heaven”
“Hear Thou my prayer, O Lord”
“Hide not Thou Thy face from us”
“I would we lived as angels do”
“If with all your hearts”
“In Thee, O Lord, have I trusted”
“Jesu, Holy Spirit”
“Lo, a voice to heaven sounding”
“Lullay, Thou little tiny Child”
“Now all the woods are sleeping”
“O Father, all creating”
“O God, Thy goodness reacheth far”
“O Jesu, so sweet”
“O Lord, most merciful”
“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”
“Praise we our God”
“Sing we Noel”
“Take my life, and let it be”
“Teach me, O Lord”
“To God on high be thanks and praise”
“Triumph! Thanksgiving”
“We gather together (Prayer of Thanksgiving)”
“When to the temple Mary went”
“Ye watchers and ye holy ones”

“Have you seen but the white lily grow?” ©1941

“O Praise to the Lord,” ©1978

“The Twenty-Third Psalm,” ©1953

“Wondrous Love,” ©1973


Folder 7. Cantatas and musical dramas by Katherine K. Davis, 1953–1973 (arranged alphabetically by title):
The Children of Bethlehem: A Christmas Cantata for Children’s Voices, ©1973
The Road to Galilee: An Easter Musical Drama, ©1964
This is Noel: A Carol Cantata, Mixed Voices, ©1953
The Unmusical Impresario: A Musical Comedy in One Act, ©1956


Folder 8. Lists of works by Katherine K. Davis, 1921–1978:
Includes three (3) copies of About Katherine K. Davis and her publications, Warner Bros. Publications; two (2) copies of About Katherine K. Davis and her publications with additions, Warner Bros.-Seven Arts Music; list of publishers and publications, including typed and handwritten lists of songs, handwritten list of music publishers, and “Catalog of Works of Katherine K. Davis.”


Folder 9. Katherine K. Davis notebook, [undated]–1980:
Handwritten and pasted to inside cover of black spiral notebook, “The Infinite Variety of Music, Leonard Bernstein, p. 283,” copied by Davis, March 4, 1980.

Handwritten notes and lyrics, some written on calendar pages from June and July 1970; handwritten pages of sheet music.


Folder 10. Publicity, 1974–1979 (arranged alphabetically by author):
Garrelick, Renee. “A Concord Gift, Pa-rum-pa-pum-pum: The story behind ‘The Little Drummer Boy,’” in Supplement to Lexington Minute-man, Concord Journal, Lincoln Edition, December 6, 1979 (pages 4-5).

“Music Journal’s Gallery of Living Composers: Katherine K. Davis,” in Music Journal, March 1974 (page 41).

Three (3) copies: Wilder, Bonnie. “Katherine K. Davis: Modern Pioneer In Music For Young People” in Choristers Guild Letters, volume XXXI, number 3, November 1979 (pages 47-50).


Folder 11. Performances, [undated]–1979 (arranged chronologically):
The Unmusical Impresario presented by 9th and 10th Grade Theatre Arts and Music Appreciation Classes at Beaver School, [undated].

Under the Greenwood Tree: A Play of Robin Hood at Shady Hill Country Day School, May 1929. Includes handwritten notes.

The Road to Galilee presented by Glorieta Baptist Assembly at the Thirteenth Annual Southern Baptist Music Leadership Conference, July 18, 1965.

“Shepherds, Awake, The Angels Sing, Oh hear the joyful news they bring” performed at St. Louis Bach Festival Chorus and Orchestra’s Candlelight Christmas Festival Concert at Kiel Auditorium Opera House, December 9, 1966. Includes handwritten notes.

The Road to Galilee presented by the Chancel Choir at First Church of Christ, Congregational in Bedford, Massachusetts, March 19, 1972.

Broadcasts of “The Drum” and “A Christmas Songfest” on South Carolina ETV Christmas Specials 1977, December 13–23, 1977.

“The Little Drummer Boy” at Center School’s Celebration of Seasons Holiday Concert, December 11, 1979. Program includes note “A.V. Slide – Tape of ‘The Little Drummer Boy,’ our gift to the composer, Miss Katherine K. Davis.”


Folder 12. Other music-related materials, 1947–1981 (arranged chronologically):
Note “Republish Galaxy Junior Chorus Book” written on back of checking page.

Copy of Nancy Loring with Felix Wolfes on piano at Jordan Hall, April 11, 1947. Original in Folder 2.

The Bulletin, National Association of Teachers of Singing, Inc., September 1954.

Testimonial Concert to honor Henry Sandwith Drinker and Dedication of the Henry S. Drinker Music Center at Haverford College, January 7, 1962.

Sacred Music Press press release, spring 1980.

Sacred Music Press New Church Music soundsheet and music sampler, 1981.


Folder 13. Music composed by others, 1976–1981 (arranged alphabetically by composer):
Sheet music catalogs by other composers. Includes list of catalogs at beginning of folder.



Mounted 3 December 2014.    rcwh.

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