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Alois Havrilla papers

 Collection 0174-MMC

Alois Havrilla (1891-1952) began his radio career as a baritone singer but went on to have a long career as a leading announcer, narrator, and commentator on radio and in film. An immigrant, Havrilla did not learn to speak English until he was 12 but ultimately won the 1935 gold medal for diction award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

This collection consists of correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, sheet music, scripts, newspaper clippings, and scrapbooks covering his singing and announcing career. The collection ranges in date from 1893 to 1965, with the bulk of the material dating from the 1920s to the 1930s.


  • 1893-1965
  • Majority of material found within 1920s-1930s

Use and Access to Collection

There are no restricted files in this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


5.75 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Alois Havrilla Papers is a collection of correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, sheet music, scripts, newspaper clippings, and scrapbooks covering the singing and announcing career of Alois Havrilla. The collection ranges in date from 1893 to 1965, with the bulk of the material dating from the 1920s to 1930s.


Alois Havrilla was born in PreŇ°ov, Slovakia (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) in 1891. He and his family came to America in the middle 1890s and settled in the Slovak community in Bridgeport, Connecticut. In 1898, he began learning English by singing in the choir in the Trinity Episcopal Church and from then to 1927, he had a very active singing career.

It was as a singer that Havrilla made his first appearances on radio in 1924. His first appearance on radio was as a baritone during a performance of the Bridgeport Oratorio Society at Carnegie Hall that was broadcast over WEAF on April 30. Havrilla broadcast over WEAF in his own solo concert two months later. His first work as an announcer came when he announced the audition show for May Singhi Breen and Peter DeRose for WJZ. His radio career almost began with this audition show; he was offered a more permanent announcing job at WJZ. However, he turned down the offer because it would have required him to go to WRC in Washington for training, taking him away from his commitments in the New York City area.

Havrilla's radio career truly began in 1927 and continued until his death in 1952. Over that 25 year period, he announced and sang on more than 100 programs for NBC. The types of programs he announced ranged from comedy programs like Jack Benny (1933-1934) and Amos 'n' Andy (1933-1934) to dramas like the Coward Comfort Hour (1927), the Biblical Dramas (1928), and Dangerous Paradise (1933-1935) to informational programs like Laws that Safeguard Society (1932), Town Meeting on the Air (1935), and Strange as it Seems (1939-1940) to quiz shows like Double or Nothing (1940).

But Havrilla's greatest love was still music, and the majority of the programs he announced reflected this interest. He announced such sophisticated musical programs as the National Grand Opera (1927, 1933), Puccini Operas (1929-1930), Atwater Kent (1931), and the Voice of Firestone (1931-1936). He put his experience as a music teacher to use on Music in the Air (1931) and Keys to Happiness (1931-1932), two programs designed to teach music over the air. He even announced for many of the popular singers and musicians of the time, including the Pickens Sisters (1932), Fred Waring (1935-1936), Paul Whiteman (1936), and Frank Parker (1937).

The highlight of Havrilla's radio career came in 1935 when he was awarded a Diction Medal by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Havrilla died December 7, 1952.


This collection is arranged in twelve series:

Series 1
Biographical Material
Series 2
Series 3
Series 4
Manuscripts-"Radio's Age of Adventure"
Series 5
Series 6
Promotional Material
Series 7
Series 8
Series 9
Series 10
Series 11
Series 12
Instructional Materials

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Alois Havrilla papers were given to the Library of American Broadcasting by Constance Havrilla of New York City. Constance Havrilla is the daughter of Alois and Marion M. Havrilla. The collection was donated sporadically, beginning in 1973 and ending with the final items in 1988.

Processing Information

Materials were placed into acid-free folders and put into acid-free boxes.

Guide to the Alois Havrilla papers
Processed by Michael Henry
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Revision Statements

  • 2019-01-16: Minor updates and revisions made post ArchivesSpace migration by Joanne Archer
  • 2021-08-13: Jim Baxter re-wrote the collection abstract.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742