New Hampton History: The Academy’s First Musical Society

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Please enjoy the following article presented by alumnus and Bicentennial History Committee member Kent Bicknell ’65. In recognition of our upcoming Bicentennial, this feature in the history series highlights a student-driven petition for a music program.

Petitioning for a new program

In the fourth year of New Hampton School’s existence (Nov 1824), about two dozen students, “desirous of improving our selves in the Art or Science of Musick,” submitted a petition to establish a singing school at the Academy. Two of the signers, brothers William and Nathan Mallon, were boarding students from Boston. What is remarkable about this almost two-hundred-year-old document is how it captures the importance of student voices right from the beginning. The students were obviously effective, as the following year (1825) NHS hired a new faculty member: Mr. Jeremiah Putney, Teacher of Vocal Musick.



We the subscribers being desirous of improving our selves in the Art or Science of Musick do agree for our selves and with each other to house a singing school at the New Hampton Academy the ensuing winter, at least three months – two evenings in a week – to commence on Monday evening the Sixth day of Dec next at Six o’clock and end at Nine. And we further agree to have it one month longer if two thirds of the Scholars should be in favor of it. And we further agree to pay severally our equal proportions and defraying the expenses of the same. We also appoint Ira Gordon and Thomas Sanborn our Agents to agree with some suitable person to instruct the School and see him paid. Any Scholar may be dismissed by making a request the first night of the School.

Nov 19th 1824

Men’s Names                                                  Ladies Names

William Mallon                                              Hannah H. Sanborn
Nathaniel R. Mallon                                      Lavinia Sanborn
James G. Flanders                                         Hannah Smith
Abraham Harper                                            Sophronia Harper
Noah W                                                            Lydia Ward
Joseph                                                              Mary Smith
Joseph Dolloff                                                Charlotte Smith
Daniel Fifield [?]                                            Abigail Dolloff
Joshua L. Woodman                                     Elizabeth Kimball
Simeon D. Kelley                                            Nancy Webster
Willis T. Chase                                                Sally Hannaford
Abraham Harper                                            Betsy Harper

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