Alert: Your Libraries are here for you. Learn more about library services during the pandemic.
Skip to main content
Use the right side menu to identify relevant boxes and place requests.

Ernest S. Williams papers

 Collection 0042-SCPA
Ernest S. Williams (1881-1947) was associated with many ensembles during his career as a cornetist, educator, and bandmaster. As a cornetist, he performed with the Sousa and Goldman bands and the Philadelphia Symphony under the baton of Leopold Stokowski. He founded the Ernest Williams School of Music in Brooklyn, New York in the 1920s and a summer music camp in Saugerties, New York in 1930. The Ernest S. Williams Collection consists of professional papers including photographs; published and unpublished scores; newspaper clippings; programs; correspondence; memorabilia; and sound recordings related to the Ernest Williams School of Music, the Ernest Williams Band and Orchestra Camp, and other ensembles that Williams worked with in his career as a music educator and performer. Also included in the collection are files associated with the Ernest Williams Alumni Association.


  • 1917-2002
  • Majority of material found within 1925-1948

Use and Access to Collection

The collection is open for research use.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Materials from this collection must be used in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library's Irving and Margery Morgan Lowens Special Collections Room, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Contact the curator for an appointment:


12.50 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Ernest S. Williams papers cover the period from 1917 to 2002; the bulk of materials date from 1925-1948. The papers consist of professional papers including photographs, published and unpublished scores, newspaper clippings, programs, correspondence, memorabilia, and sound recordings related to the Ernest Williams School of Music and Band and Orchestra Camp and other ensembles that Williams worked with during his career as a music educator and performer. Also included in the collection are files associated with the Ernest Williams Alumni Association.


Ernest Samuel Williams was born on 27 September, 1881, in Washington, Indiana. He began playing the cornet at a very early age under the tutelage of his father. With the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Williams joined the Army and at the age of 18 became the bandmaster of the 161st Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Williams left the military in 1899 to pursue a performance career.

During his performance career, Williams performed with the John Philip Sousa Band in 1902 and 1903; as a soloist with the bands of Alessandro Liberati, Mace Gay, Frederick Innes, and Patrick Conway in the years that followed; as principal trumpet player with the Philadelphia Symphony under Leopold Stokowski from 1917 to 1923; and as a soloist with the Goldman Band from 1918 to 1922 during its summer series at Columbia University. Williams also found success as a conductor and led the Boston Cadet Band from 1907 through 1909.

In 1922, Williams began teaching students at his home in Brooklyn, founding the Ernest Williams School of Music. In June of 1929, following the death of Patrick Conway, Williams was appointed Dean of the Conway Military Band School, affiliated with the Ithaca Conservatory of Music. In 1931, he returned to the Ernest Williams School of Music, which lasted until 1943 when World War II took away much of the student body. He established the companion Ernest Williams Band and Orchestra Camp in 1930, located in Saugerties, New York. Faculty members at the camp include Arthur Pryor, Arthur Brandenburg, Mayhew Lake, Erik Leidzen, Percy Grainger, Morton Gould, and Henry Cowell. The camp operated until Williams's death in 1947. In 1948, the camp's main building and many of the camp's records were destroyed by fire.


This collection is organized into twelve series.
  1. Series 1: Correspondence
  2. Series 2: Music Schools and Summer Music Camp
  3. Series 3: Programs
  4. Series 4: Summer Camp Newspapers
  5. Series 5: Publications
  6. Series 6: Biographical Materials
  7. Series 7: News Clippings
  8. Series 8: Photographs
  9. Series 9: Memorabilia
  10. Series 10: Ernest Williams Alumni Association
  11. Series 11: Sound Recordings
  12. Series 12: Oral History

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Gift of John E. "Ned" Mahoney, Ernest Williams Alumni Association, 1995. The collection comprises donations from members of the Ernest Williams Alumni Association. One postcard was donated by Joanne Fate, 2014.

Related Material

  1. Keith Winking: "Ernest Williams, Virtuoso and Educator: A Biographical Survey of his philosophies and techniques." Dissertation. [SCPA Research Paper Collection (RP 1645)]
  2. Lake, Mayhew "Mike." Great Guys: Laughs and Gripes of Fifty years of Show-Music Business. Grosse Point Woods, Michigan: Bovaco Press, 1983. [Lowens Special Collections Room - ML410.L2433A3 1983]
  3. Williams, Ernest S. Modern Method for Cornet or Trumpet. New York: Charles Colin, 1936. [Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library - Folio MT 442.W5]
  4. The Arthur Brandenburg Papers, Special Collection in Performing Arts, University of Maryland Libraries; contain information about Brandenburg's time as a teacher with the Ernest Williams School of Music and the Band and Orchestra Camp.
  5. Additional photographs of Williams may be found in the Mabel Rosenthal Collection on Edwin Franko Goldman and in the ABA Personnel Photograph file (CRII 5-2 and CRII 6-1)
For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.
Ernest S. Williams papers
Vin Novara and Laura Drake, June 1995. Revised by Patrick Warfield, May 2002; Bradley Mariska, January 2004; and David Travis, August 2010.
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

Library Details

Part of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library

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