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Carl A. "Pappy" Fehr Papers

Identifier: UA 6.017

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The collection contains materials related to Dr. Carl A. Fehr's music professorship as well as his direction of the College of William and Mary's choral program and those of The Common Glory and The Founders summer pageants and the Williamsburg Baptist Church choir. In addition to his reflections on choral direction and discipline, the collection includes extensive materials on Dr. Fehr's professional management of the College's choral program, a series of published choral programs, a collection of choral music, his teaching notes and curricula, correspondence, professional awards and memberships, as well as his dissertation and other academic credentials. The choral program is also extensively represented in Choir and Chorus communications, activities, group photographs, scrapbooks and publicity during the years of Dr. Fehr's directorship. In addition to the regular academic year choral program, the Choir's annual spring tours, special guest appearances and national broadcast performances are documented in correspondence, news clippings, photographs, scrapbooks, and audio recordings. The audio recordings were reformatted from their original reel-to-reel audiotape and LP formats and CDs are available for purchase. Contact the Special Collections Research Center (, 757-221-3090) to request a list of available recordings.

Among the artifacts contained in the collection are Dr. Fehr's formal concert attire and other textiles as well as a miniature stage and figures used to arrange choral groupings. Personal memorabilia include Williamsburg items as well as some material from Austin, Texas, where Dr. Fehr served as choral director in the Austin public school system before coming to the College of William and Mary. However, the collection contains very little material on the Austin phase of his choral career, his directorship of the Common Glory, The Founders and the Williamsburg Baptist Church programs or of his free lance activities as a wedding events organist or as a judicator and director of choral workshops and concert programs.


  • Creation: 1907-2012
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1945-1974


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access:

The collection is open to all researchers. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, such as the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia. § 42.1-76-91); and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia § 2.2-3705.5). Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. If sensitive material is found in this collection, please contact a staff member immediately. The disclosure of personally identifiable information pertaining to a living individual may have legal consequences for which the College of William and Mary assumes no responsibility.

Conditions Governing Use:

Before reproducing or quoting from any materials, in whole or in part, permission must be obtained from the Special Collections Research Center, and the holder of the copyright, if not Swem Library.

Biographical Information:

Dr. Carl A. Fehr earned degrees from the University of Texas including a Bachelor of Arts in German and French (1928) and a Masters in Psychology and Sociology (1930). In 1942, he received a Masters in Music and Music Education from the University of Michigan and in 1950, a Doctorate in Music and Music Education from Columbia University. He joined the College of William and Mary faculty as an Assistant Professor of Music in 1945, becoming Associate Professor in 1951, rising to Chancellor Professor in 1971, and receiving emeritus status upon retirement in 1974. Integral to Dr. Fehr's faculty duties was his directorship of the College's choir and chorus. Under Dr. Fehr's professional management the choral program gained many new student members and achieved national recognition through such media programs as radio and television broadcasts and phonograph recordings. In 1970, the Choir received the George Washington Honor Medal of the Freedom Foundation of Valley Forge. The Choir also appeared at such national events as the 1965 World's Fair's Virginia Day. Under Dr. Fehr's directorship Choir members selected for the Spring Tour program made a total of 27 tours over the years to such cites as New York, Boston, and Atlanta.

Prior to joining the College of William and Mary faculty, Dr. Fehr held several teaching posts in his native Austin, Texas. He served as teacher and organist at the St. Paul's Lutheran Church School (1931-1933) and as music instructor in the Austin public schools (1933-1945). In 1933, Dr. Fehr married fellow Texan Alice Theresa Knippa, who was later employed for many years as a secretary in the College's Physics Department. Although the Fehrs had no children, Dr. Fehr became a surrogate father figure to many of his students, who addressed him as "Pappy." Dr. Fehr set high choral performance standards, often enhancing performances with such visual effects as aesthetically arranged choral groupings. Members of the William and Mary Choir and Chorus took pride in memorized, polished performances of varied, often complex, musical programs. Their fellowship, alumni groups, reunions and special celebrations for Dr. and Mrs. Fehr attest to their esprit de corps. For some students, however, the rigors of academic achievement conflicted with the choral program's demanding rehearsal and performance schedules. As the student culture changed during the mid-1960s, heightened social awareness also elicited some criticism of such stock folk songs as those in the Stephen Foster repertoire. Further information about this individual or organization may be available in the Special Collections Research Center Wiki: A. Fehr.


66.00 Linear Feet

Arrangement of Materials:

The collection is arranged into the following series: Series 1: Concert Programs, 1943-1977; Series 2: Choral Program Statements, circa 1955-1974; Series 3: Choral Program Management, 1946-1974; Series 4: Spring Choir, 1964-1974; Series 5: Choir Activities, 1945-1991; Series 6: Publicity Materials, 1947-1991; Series 7: Department of Music, circa 1950-1974; Series 8: Biographical and Professional Material, 1907-1993; Series 9: News Clippings, 1940-1983; Series 10: Sheet Music, circa 1884-1970; Series 11: Publications, circa 1960-1974; Series 12: Correspondence, 1945-1993; Series 13: Photographs, 1925-1985; Series 14: Audio Recordings, 1946-1983; Series 15: Artifacts, circa 1950-1996; Series 16: Scrapbooks, 1945-1983.

Acquisition Information:

Acc. 2003.1 received 2/20/2003 from Thomas Terry (class of 1974); Acc. 2007.010, 7 cubic feet, received 5/31/2007 from Thomas Terry; Acc. 2007.65, 1 box of music scores, received from G. Lindsey Florence (class of 1967) 9/7/2007; Acc. 2008.08 received 1/18/2008 from Mark '77 and Ann (Spielman) '75 Woolley. Acquisition information for material received after 7/13/2009 is available by consulting a Special Collections Research Center staff member.

Related Materials:

Processing Information:

Collection processed by Donna Dodenhoff in 2006-2007. The 2007 accessions of sheet music were processed by Fred Gibbs from July-October 2007. Acc. 2011.479-482 accessioned and minimally processed by Steven Bookman, University Archives Specialist, in July 2011. Acc. 2012.298 accessioned and minimally processed by Steven Bookman, University Archives Specialist, in August 2012.

Guide to the Carl A. "Pappy" Fehr Papers
Finding Aid Authors: Donna Dodenhoff, Fred Gibbs, and Staying Connected Volunteers.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
The collection description/finding aid is written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository