Research and Publications Committee
MONOGRAPH NO. 1
DICKINSON TRIBUTARIES IN THE WATERSHED OF
CLARENCE DICKINSON (1873-1969)
ELIZABETH HAYDON KEITHCART
Copyright Elizabeth Haydon Keithcart, 2008
Printed with permission of the author
The watershed of music education in the United States originated with
tributaries from Puritan families, churches, and communities. Elizabeth
Haydon Keithcart traced one branch of the Dickinson family to the well-
spring of music education in the Connecticut River Valley through her
doctoral dissertation, Dickinson Tributaries in the Watershed of Music
Education: Martha Dickinson Bond (1856-1936) and Clarence Dickinson
The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of music educators
on students’ life-long learning and musicianship, through the life stories and
family history of Martha and Clarence. Recommendations were made, based
on the findings, for music educators, music therapists, and teacher educators.
Martha taught music to her children and grandchildren. She also taught
Elizabeth’s piano teacher, Robert L. Fife, who told her in her first lesson and
later during doctoral interviews that her great-grandmother, Mrs. Bond, was
Martha introduced her younger brother, Clarence, to music from his
infancy. Clarence’s contributions are documented in numerous music
reference books as composer, organist, author, and educator, notably in a
1993 dissertation by David Weadon.
Archival research was conducted in libraries, churches, and historical
societies in several states, including the Clarence Dickinson Collection of
Sacred Music, William Carey College, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Martha’s
collection was reassembled as Elizabeth’s mother and aunts gave her Martha’s
sheet music, books on teaching music, photograph albums, and journals.
Elizabeth found that the Dickinsons were involved in the early stages of
music education in the United States through Psalm singing, singing schools,
and musical societies. She discovered that Baxter Dickinson (1795-1875), the
grandfather of Martha and Clarence, was associated closely with leaders in
music education as it was introduced into the public schools in the 1830s in
Boston and Cincinnati. Further, as Clarence taught ministers and church
musicians at Union Theological Seminary in New York, Martha successfully
introduced music into the schools attended by her children and grandchildren.
This in-depth inquiry into the musical development of Martha and Clarence
was placed in the context of the Dickinson family. Their father, William
Cowper Dickinson (1827-1899), was a graduate of Amherst College (1848),
a minister and professor. Martha’s aunts, who were educated at Amherst
Academy, were Martha’s first teachers. Through family and community
connections, Martha and Clarence were influenced by the same, inspiring
music educators as their sixth cousin, the poet and pianist Emily Dickinson
Copies of the dissertation may be reviewed at the American Antiquarian Society,
Amherst College Library, The Jones Library, the Forbes Library, and the Historic
Deerfield Library in Massachusetts; Lake Forest University, Illinois; William Carey
College, Hattiesburg, Mississippi; and the Butte County Library in Gridley,
California. The document may be accessed online by typing in “Dickinson
Tributaries” at the following link for ProQuest:
Martha Bush Dickinson Bond, c. 1915.
Photo courtesy of Dorothy Bond Fry.
Clarence Dickinson leading a choir, c. 1945.
Photograph from Clarence Dickinson Collection of
Sacred Music, William Carey College.
North Amherst birthplace of Baxter Dickinson.
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Haydon Keithcart
John Haydon and Elizabeth Haydon Keithcart,
on behalf of their mother, Sara Bond Haydon,
donated an autographed copy of Helen A. and
Clarence Dickinson’s 1917 Excursions in Musical
History to Dr. Gene Winters William Carey College,
Dr. Winters’ parents, as Deans of the School of Music
at William Carey College, accepted the Clarence
Dickinson Collection of Sacred Music with the
agreement to keep the collection of books, art,
manuscripts, and furniture intact.