Scope and arrangement
The papers of David Blakely encompass the years 1880-1931. The bulk of the David Blakely Papers fall within the years 1892-1896, the height of Blakely's career as manager of Sousa's Band. The collection is arranged by the inherent corporate structure of the syndicate so as to reflect the syndicate's mode of operation. It begins with the general correspondence of the Blakely Syndicate followed by the specialized subject correspondence and letterbooks concerning the Gilmore, Strauss and Thomas orchestras as well as that of the Austro-Hungarian Juvenile Band tours. The Financial Papers and account books of the Blakely Syndicate express the internal office financial operations as well as the concert and touring expenses of the groups managed by Blakely.
In addition, the collection contains series concerning the workings of the Blakely Printing Company and the personal papers, letters and bills of David Blakely himself. Finally there are the John Philip Sousa printed ephemera as well as a collection of calling cards, concert programs and opera and theatre house seating diagrams from the period.
The David Blakely papers are arranged in five series:
These papers are primarily incoming and internal correspondence. They portray David Blakely as concert artist manager, booking agent and businessman. The correspondence reflects Blakely's primary concern of acquiring, organizing and managing concert artists and performing groups of high caliber.
In the early years the correspondence shows Blakely managing Theodore Thomas and his Orchestra as well as managing and booking engagements for numerous singers and instrumentalists. During these years Blakely received many requests from performing artists seeking concert management. In addition there is considerable correspondence from managers in other U.S. cities looking to book one of Blakely's groups.
By early 1891 the correspondence reflects Blakely's interest in John Philip Sousa. Blakely's plans to free Sousa from his responsibilities with the Marine Band in Washington in order to form the New Marine Band based in Chicago begin to take shape. By June of 1892 there is a flood of incoming letters from musicians nation-wide seeking entry into the new band. Some letters are written directly to Sousa, others to Business Manager Frank Christianer or to Blakely himself. In addition letters to the Blakely management come from prominent musicians seeking work or to recommend other musicians for positions with the new Sousa Band. This type of correspondence is soon followed by letters of acceptance from those musicians who have been signed by Sousa along with copies of some of the contracts that Blakely had kept for his own files. By December of 1892 there appears a handwritten list of band members and their salaries.
Beginning in 1893 copies of outgoing Blakely correspondence appear sporadically. The remainder of the correspondence concerns bookings and tour preparations for the Sousa Band. These include the semi-annual tours, the Mid-Winter Exposition of 1894 and the Trans-continental tour of May-December of 1896. After Blakely's death on November 7, 1896, the correspondence is taken over by Frank Christianer. The volume of papers sloly diminishes and finally ceases in January of 1897.
The sub-series of this correspondence reflect other interests of the Blakely Syndicate. These include management of Eduard Strauss, the Austro-Hungarian Juvenile band and other European groups as well as Blakely's ill-fated “Ladies Orchestra” Projectof 1891-92. Regarding Blakely's management of Eduard Strauss there are the two sub-series titled Strauss/Blakely Correspondence 1889-90, and the Eduard Strauss Tours 1890-92. This contains Blakely's correspondence with Senator Washburn concerning violation of the Musicians League agreements prohibiting foreign musicians from performing on U.S. soil and “competing” with American musicians. (See also; Blakely, Personal Papers, Letterbook 1890-92). In addition Blakely is in continuous negotiations with Eduard Strauss to satisfy Strauss' artistic requirements regarding his orchestra tours in the U.S. Finally there is contained here a letter to Blakely from officials of the Madison Square Garden Company asking Blakely to postpone the first Strauss U.S. concert which was to open the new Garden until construction on the site can be completed.
The letterbooks within this series of Blakely Syndicate correspondence contain Blakely's own correspondence regarding each of his concert group operations. These include Theodore Thomas, Eduard Strauss and Sousa.
These papers describe the day to day workings of syndicate operations. This includes legal financial statements and expense reports for printing costs, telegrams, moving of musical equipment (including band trunks), press and photo advertising and office supplies. From the largest tax receipt to the smallest cancelled check, these records show exactly how Blakely financed and operated his concert management offices.
In 1889 Blakely managed the Gilmore Band Anniversary Jubilee. The financial papers of this sub-series show the expense accounts as prepared by Blakely's agent J.H. Lainethrough bills, invoices and brief financial correspondence.
Also contained in the syndicates financial papers are daily cash books and ledger books of all orchestra accounts and band reciepts. Included here are the Thomas Tour of 1889, general office cash books as well as daily expense account books from some of the Sousa tours.
Miscellaneous Business and Financial Papers of the Syndicate show other aspects of Blakely's operations as entrepreneur and business manager that were important in forming both his concert artist activities as well as the business itself. Among these are his early festival concert activities in Minnesota and the minutes of the first meeting of the Blakely Syndicate in 1892.
The Blakely Printing Company came under the umbrella of the Blakely Syndicate. This company handled most of Blakely's office printing needs. This included the printing of flyers and concert programs promoting his own clientele. In addition Blakely sold advertising space in his concert brochures and programs to publishers, dealers of music as well as instrument makers such as C.G. Conn, founder of the Conn Instrument Corp. of Elkhart, Indiana.
Blakely also contracted with other printers as well as with lithographers and engravers to do large scale work to suit his band and concert promotional needs. This fact is reflected in the sub-series of papers, Printers, Engravers, Lithographers: General Business Correspondence 1889-1896. Here is a wealth of correspondence that combines evidential and artistic value in a rich archival sampling of commercial artwork of the last quarter of the nineteenth century by way of the general business letterheads from the major printers and engravers of the period.
Two letterbooks, 1890-1896 contain material ranging from the legal matters concerning the Eduard Strauss Orchestra(See Blakely Syndicate Correspondence; Eduard Strauss Tours) to internal office routines. Primarily though, these books contain letters of a more personal nature such as regarding the maintainence of the Blakely house in Bradford, Vermont and Personal letters to Mrs. Blakely.
His personal bills also concern the maintainence of the Bradford house and the purchase and repairing of such things as bicycles and his daughter's violin. Ada Blakely's papers contain a small grouping of insurance and personal bills.
Contained here are printed ephemera of J.P. Sousa. There is an inventory song list of repertoire belonging to the Sousa Band, program drafts, and news clippings. In addition, this series includes a scrapbook of clippings compiled by Mrs. Sousa, various certificates and a fragment from a palm reading.
The sub-series, Blakely vs. Sousa 1887-1898, contains clippings and legal documents pertaining to the case brought against Sousa by Ada Blakely.
Also in this series is a small collection of music and music catalogs as well as music business cards and biographical sketches of musicians collected by Blakely for his office reference.
Concert programs/Notes is a collection of programs by Sousa and other artists. Many of them were sent to Blakely by artists seeking either Blakely's management or employment with Sousa's band.
News releases/Advertisements contains mostly notices of Blakely-sponsored events. These include transparencies of flyers for Sousa concerts.
Opera/Theatre House Diagrams and Specifications are an alphabetical assortment (by city/town) of seating plans for some of the major theatre and opera houses in the country.