This website celebrates the late 19th- and early 20th-century town band tradition in Iowa as recorded in the many photographs that were made of these bands. Most of the images in this site are drawn from my collection of photographs and postcards. Mixed in amongst these, however, you will occasionally find additional images that have been generously shared with me, as acknowledged in the caption.
Once one begins to collect something, the categorical boundaries that initially define the collection invariably begin to expand. This has certainly been my fate. Thus, my collection of Iowa town band images has expanded to include:
- • Fraternal bands
- • Regimental bands;
- • High school and college bands;
- • Portraits of individual band directors and musicians;
- • Bandstands;
- • Opera houses and armories.
I have even included in this site, my collections of portraits of trombonists and of pianos in Iowa. Admittedly these have nothing to do with Iowa town bands, but… what the hey!
The images are arranged into thematic series in the hope that the groupings – along with the introductory commentary – will afford insights and context. In many instances, I have also been able to provide additional information and/or images which is accessible by clicking a link beneath the primary image. A listing of the various series (with links) can be seen in the navigation menu found in the upper left of each web page.
Within each series, images are organized alphabetically by town. You can search for a specific town by typing its name in the search field in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. You can also browse a list of all towns represented in this site in the City & Town Index . Similarly, a Date Index allows you to browse the images by year (when a specific year can be associated with an image).
One fun feature of the site are the “retakes.” In instances where I have been able to determine where the original photo was taken, I have attempted to retake the photo to see how the location looks today. I can’t always match the original perspective exactly because many photos were probably taken from second floor balconies and windows. But it is still interesting to see the results. By clicking on a “retake” link beneath the photo, you can toggle between the old and new views. Click the button to the right to see how Osage's Cleveland Hotel looks today.
Finally, I must note that this web site is very much a work in progress. I am continually adding new content as time allows. However, I am also in the process of a rolling redesign of the site that has been necessitated by the fact that my original design concept of a separate page for each band has proven to be too cumbersome. Given the limited amount of time I have to devote to this hobby, any revisions to the design of this web site must be rolled out incrementally if they are to happen at all. The new design concept can be seen in the very first series – presentation of images in a vertical table with links out to additional pages with additional images and information when such are available.
Collecting and curating these images has been a rewarding hobby for me. I hope that you will enjoy looking through these windows to the past and contemplating the view as much as have I.
- John Benoit
- Professor of Music
- Simpson College
- Indianola, Iowa
January 20, 2017