The Austin High School Girls’ Band of Chicago, Illinois: 1925–1956
Journal of Research in Music Education
The purpose of this study was to examine the history of the Austin High School (AHS)
Girls’ Band (AHSGB) of Chicago, Illinois, which existed from 1925 to 1956. This
research focused on the band’s (a) organization and leadership, (b) activities within
the school and community, (c) relationship to the AHS Boys Band, and (d) efforts to
challenge and support traditional gender roles of the early and mid-twentieth century.
I also considered how the history of this group might provide historical context
to lingering attitudes regarding female band musicians and conductors today. H. E.
Nutt organized the AHSGB in fall 1925 at the request of female students and school
administration. The ensemble operated similarly to the boys’ band in that it functioned
on a military basis, performed as both a concert and marching unit, and competed
among the boys at city band and solo contests. The AHSGB gradually moved away
from the all-military approach beginning in the early 1940s and eventually assumed a
more feminine image that aligned with society’s efforts to restore traditional gender
roles following World War II. The AHSGB combined with the boys in the fall of 1956,
which resulted in a steep decline in female participation.
Hash, Phillip, "The Austin High School Girls’ Band of Chicago, Illinois: 1925–1956" (2018). Faculty Publications - Music. 34.