We had a great time at Festival ISU! So many of you came by Milner Library’s table and held some of the oldest pieces of the University’s history: our first president’s Civil War swords. You had lots of great questions (and sword selfie poses!) that you made it a spectacular day!

Our time at Festival ISU got us thinking about student groups and all the registered student organizations (RSOs) that have been on campus through the decades. Many of them formed out of larger student groups, as did the Men’s Glee Club. The Men’s Glee Club has been part of the University since the early 1900s. Along with the Girl’s Glee Club, these groups were originally part of the student-run Philadelphian and Wrightonian literary societies. Over time, the singing groups branched out on their own forming individual clubs. This week we’re focusing on the work and legacy of the director of the Men’s Glee Club, Lloyd Farlee.

Lloyd Farlee was born in Belleville, Kansas, in 1922. When he was a teenager, he moved with his family back to his father’s home state of Nebraska. Like many men his age, Farlee joined the Army and fought in World War II. His experiences in the war would shape many of his later compositions.

After he returned from the war, Farlee began his educational career, earning his bachelor’s from Wayne State University, his master’s from Drake University, and eventually his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. While in Iowa, Farlee taught in public schools—and met his future wife, Catherine. In 1962, Farlee accepted a teaching position at Illinois State Normal University as a professor of music. It was during his tenure at Illinois State that Farlee became the director of the Men’s Glee Club, a position he loved and held for 15 years. Farlee was also active in community groups including the New Covenant Church and the Prairie Fire Theatre. Farlee passed away on December 1, 2007, at his home in Bloomington.

Many of Farlee’s original works and compositions are held here at the Archives. The Lloyd Farlee Papers contains many of the works he wrote throughout his career, including pieces he wrote for the Men’s Glee Club and other university performance groups. The collection is full of Farlee’s original lyrics, classroom exercises, and music manuscripts. Many of his pieces are patriotic or focus on war themes, drawing largely from his experiences during World War II. Because Farlee did not date a majority of his materials, it is hard for us to determine what pieces were for what performances, groups, and events. However, we do have titles for his music as well as vocal arrangements for each work which is largely how the collection is arranged.

Farlee left a lasting musical legacy at Illinois State which can be seen in is many lyrics and scores. If you would like to see Farlee’s work or any other collections from the College of Fine Artsemail us or give us a call at (309) 438-3546.