From the Archives: Collecting signatures

Welcome to the first installment of an occasional offering on the GCNA blog to highlight those interesting and unique items that tell the story of the Guild. If you don’t know, I am Joy Banks, the Librarian at Bok Tower Gardens where the GCNA Archives are currently housed. We’re excited to start a CLIR sponsored Hidden Collections grant to process the unprocessed carillon related holdings in the Anton Brees Carillon Library (read more about our grant project here). This project will also include the GCNA archives in its scope, so we should have plenty of interesting things to share with readers as we progress.

As the GCNA approaches its 72nd Congress this June, I’ve been busy digging away in the GCNA archives and Anton Brees Carillon Library collections at Bok Tower Gardens to discover the more personal history of this annual tradition. Sure, we’ve all seen the wonderful collection of the group pictures (started as a more regular Congress happening at the 6th Congress in 1948), but what about documentation about what really happens at the Congress? You know, when everyone wasn’t dressed their best and posing for the picture? Or perhaps they were dressed their best but perhaps weren’t expecting anyone to take a picture at that particular moment?

I’ve put a call out to the membership to fill this photographic gap in the GCNA archives, and several of you have stepped forward with some wonderful submissions. I’m still looking specifically for any photographs from the earliest Congresses (including the 1934 pre-GCNA carillon meeting and up through the 1960’s), but really any candid pictures from any year help to strengthen the archives. If you have any, send them my way (either print copies or digitally). I also promise that I will use my professional judgement when including photographs in the slide show for the Denver Congress.

As a special treat for readers, I wanted to share this gem from the 1936 Ottawa Congress, what came to be the 1st official meeting of the GCNA (for a time, records included the 1934 meeting as the first meeting, but that was changed later). You can click to view larger images.

The outside of the luncheon menu from the first Congress of the GCNA, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 1936

Showing the autographs of many (if not all) the attendees at the first Congress of the GCNA, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 1936

Some names you may recognize from the list include R. J. Donnell, Frank L. Johnson, M.C. Corbett, W. G. Rice, and Ira Schroeder. The tradition of collecting signatures from GCNA Congress attendees or performers has carried on through the years, though not consistently. Do you make a habit of collecting signatures at events? You never know when someone will be famous!

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