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Chester E. Whiting collection

 Collection 0333-SCPA-ABA

The Chester E. Whiting collection contains material relating to Whiting's career with the U.S. Army, including his role in creating and leading the U.S. Army Field Band. Materials in it date from 1919 to 2015, but the bulk dates are 1946-1960. The collection has a varied provenance, which is reflected in its arrangement and description. The first box of material is from Frank Whiting, Jr., Chester’s nephew. Frank Whiting, Sr. was a member of the Americal Division Band and the Army Field Band. These materials were collected by that branch of the family. They include photographs, pages of Frank’s scrapbook, band publicity materials, and information specific to Chester. The second box contains material collected by Susan Robinson, Chester’s daughter. It includes pages from her mother Helen’s scrapbook, as well as publicity photos, recordings, letters, and personal photos. Most of the remaining materials were gathered from various sources by Richard W. Taylor in preparation for articles about Whiting and the Field Band (also included in the collection). They include books, programs, promotional material, photographs, and copies of material pulled from collections at the National Archives. Additional materials of unknown provenance include two swords and a hat presumably used for parades and high-profile performances. The collection is strongest at documenting Whiting’s career with various Army bands, including the Field Band. There is especially useful photographic evidence conveying the life of a military musician during and after WWII. Although there is very little about Whiting’s activities as a School Board Member in this collection, much of that activity is documented in the Ruth S. Wolf Papers and Prince George’s County Council of Parent-Teachers’ Associations records held in UMD’s Special Collections and University Archives.


  • 1919-2015
  • Majority of material found within 1945-1960

Condition Description

Excellent condition. Some photographic items are fragile and slightly faded.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use. Materials from this collection must be used in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library's Irving and Margery Morgan Lowens Special Collections Room during SCPA’s operating hours. Please contact the curator for an appointment or if you have questions related to digital access of the materials.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Copyright was not transferred to the University of Maryland with the gift of any copyrighted materials. All rights remain with the creators and rights holders. The University of Maryland Libraries is granted permission for the use in scholarly research by the Libraries’ patrons under fair use in Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act.

To inquire about duplication of materials for research or for publication, please contact SCPA’s curator.


1.75 Linear Feet (Mixed materials, photographs, slides, score, and paper. Document Whiting's career in the U.S. Army Field Band. )


Chester E. Whiting (1901-1985) was a soldier, conductor, and public servant. He is best-known as the founder of the U.S. Army Field Band, where he served as conductor for fourteen years, between 1946 and 1960. Under his leadership, the U.S. Army Field Band became the organization now nicknamed "The Million Dollar Band." Although based out of Fort Meade, the Field Band had an active role in post-war musical diplomacy, traveling throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia. That period coincided with Whiting’s participation in the American Bandmasters Association; he was elected to membership in 1948 and subsequently served on the Board of Directors (1955, 1965), as Vice-President (1963), and as President (1964). As a young professional Whiting was a band director and administrator in Malden, Massachusetts and a member of the Massachusetts National Guard, serving as the director of the 110th Cavalry Band between 1924 and 1940. After World War II began, the 110th was redesignated the 180th Field Artillery Band, and Whiting went on active duty. Over the course of the next several years, Whiting became director of the newly-formed Americal Division Band. Upon the conclusion of the war, Whiting was awarded the Bronze star and became one of the founding members of the 1st Combat Infantry Band, which eventually became the Army Field Band ("The Million Dollar Band"). After retirement from the U.S. military, Whiting returned to teaching and administration, eventually serving on the Prince George's County School Board from 1967 to 1980. During those years, the post-war government economy boomed, and P.G. County became less rural and more suburban with an explosion of African-American residents. Court ordered school desegregation began in 1973, and, although he had formerly voted against it, Whiting ushered in the new system, continuing to serve for seven more years.


The materials are arranged in four series:

  1. Frank B. Whiting, Jr. and George Whiting files
  2. Susan Robinson files
  3. Richard Taylor research materials
  4. Media

Custodial History

Richard Taylor donated these materials in 2018. He had been collecting them as part of his work documenting the history of the U.S. Army Field Band. As indicated by the series titles, many items came from Susan Robinson, Chester Whiting's daughter, other material was given to Taylor by George Whiting, Chester Whiting's nephew, and had been originally collected by Frank Whiting, Chester's brother. Additional material relates to Taylor's own research and publications about Chester Whiting and his career.

Related Materials

Material related to Whiting's career as a band director are also found in the following collections:

Kenneth Slater papers, 11.37.7. Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library. (link)

American Bandmasters Association records, Special Collections in Performing Arts, University of Maryland Libraries. (finding aid)

Material related to Whiting's tenure on the Prince George's County School Board can be found in these collections:

Prince George's County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations (PGCCPTA) records, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries. (finding aid)

Prince George's County Board of Education, 1955-1976. Ruth S. Wolf papers, 1. Special Collections and University Archives. (link)

Condition Description

Excellent condition. Some photographic items are fragile and slightly faded.

Chester E. Whiting collection
Christina Taylor Gibson
July 2019
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Library Details

Part of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library

University of Maryland Libraries
8270 Alumni Drive
College Park MD 20742 United States