Town Hall, Inc.

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The Town Hall, Inc. sponsored a full series of lectures, adult education courses, and musical performances in its auditorium in New York City. It also presented the popular weekly radio program, "America's Town Meeting of the Air."

From the description of Mental health lecture series sound recordings, 1949. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 144651938

In the 1890's a group of suffragists (The League for Political Education) raised the money to build their own meeting space to host lectures and debates. They eliminated box seats and any seat whose view of the stage was obstructed, which led to the phrase "Not a bad seat in the house". After the passage of the 19th Amendment the superb acoustics of the hall were discovered and it became touted as an ideal place to host musical performances. The theater grew into a non-profit center for the arts whose mission still continues today. Morning performances are free of charge to all children in grades 3 through 8. (from The Town Hall website)

From the description of Belknap Collection, Theatre and theatre groups ca. 1928-1964 : Town Hall. (University of Florida). WorldCat record id: 60562518

Town Hall was founded in 1894 by six prominent suffragists under the name League for Political Education to continue the struggle for women's rights by raising political consciousness. Robert Ely was director of the League from 1907 to 1937. The Town Hall building, erected with funds raised by public subscription, was opened in 1921 as "a meeting place, clearing house for ideas, forum, lyceum, concert hall, school, and college." In 1935 George Denny, associate director of the League and later president, created America's Town Meeting of the Air, a radio program to foster discussion of political, social and economic concerns. The name of the institution was changed in 1938 to The Town Hall, Inc. and in 1956 it became affiliated with New York University.

From the description of Town Hall, Inc. records, 1895-1955, bulk (1940-1955). (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 86164306

From the guide to the Town Hall, Inc. records, 1895-1955, 1940-1955, (The New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division.)

The Town Hall, Inc. sponsored a full series of lectures, adult education courses, and musical performances in its auditorium in New York City. It also presented the popular weekly radio program, "America's Town Meeting of the Air.".

From the guide to the Mental health lecture series sound recordings, 1949, (The New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division.)

The Town Hall Inc. was organized as the League for Political Education in 1894 by six prominent New York women after a suffrage measure was defeated in the New York State Legislature. The purpose of the league was to educate the public about the issue by holding educational programs and lectures. The events were held at small rented venues. The League for Political Education gave birth to offshoot groups such as the Economic Club and Civic Forum. In 1904 the League became incorporated and changed its name to the Board of Trustees of the League for Political Education.

The building of an auditorium for the League for Political Education began in 1919 as the organization outgrew its small venues and sought a permanent home. The structure, which also included office space, was designed by architecture firm McKim, Mead and White. It opened January 1921 at 123 W. 43rd Street. It was dubbed the Town Meeting Hall.

Soon after the doors opened to lecturers and audiences, it was realized the auditorium had exceptional acoustics. And so the Town Meeting Hall became a venue for musical performance as well as political expression. Independent groups such as the New York University Club also rented space from the organization.

In 1930 the League for Political Education purchased the adjacent the building at 125 W. 43rd Street for its Town Hall Annex for more space. It subsequently sold the building in 1959. The league began hosting and broadcasting its "America's Town Meeting of the Air" radio lecture series in 1935. The series ran until 1956 and provided a forum for political and cultural experts to discuss current events issues.

The organization changed its name to The Town Hall, Inc. in 1937 to reflect its expanding programming. In the late 1950s Town Hall experienced a decline. It merged with New York University in 1958 and came under the jurisdiction of the Division of General Education (now the School of Continuing Education) until 1978 when the university divested itself from the organization.

Town Hall remains primarily a musical venue focusing on jazz and arts education.

From the guide to the Records of Town Hall, Bulk, 1930-1978, 1900-1985, (New York University Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Records of the Office of the Vice President and Secretary (Harold O. Voorhis), 1925-1965 New York University. Archives
creatorOf Town Hall, Inc. Town Hall, Inc. records, 1895-1955, bulk (1940-1955). New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Town Hall archives, 1921-1978 (bulk 1960-1978). New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Town Hall, Inc. [Minor publications]. Yale University Library
referencedIn Hocking, William Ernest, 1873-1966. William Ernest Hocking Papers, 1860-1979 Houghton Library
referencedIn New York Times Company records. Arthur Hays Sulzberger papers, 1823-1999 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn New York University. Office of the Vice President and Secretary. Vice President and Secretary administrative records, 1925-1965. Churchill County Museum
creatorOf Town Hall, Inc. Correspondence, 1940, from Lewis Mumford. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Town Hall Club (New York, N.Y.). [A collection of printed material pertaining to the Town Hall Club, New York, New York]. © 2011 New-York Historical Society
creatorOf Town Hall, Inc. Letters, 1940-1945, to Lewis Mumford. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Records of the Vice President and Secretary Administrative Records, 1925-1965 New York University. Archives
creatorOf Town Hall, Inc. [A collection of programs for events at Town Hall, New York, New York]. © 2011 New-York Historical Society
creatorOf Town Hall, Inc. Belknap Collection, Theatre and theatre groups ca. 1928-1964 : Town Hall. University of Florida
referencedIn Powell, Paulus P. Papers, 1892-1963. Operational Archive Branch, Naval History Center
creatorOf Town Hall, Inc. Mental health lecture series sound recordings, 1949. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf East and West Association (U.S.). [A collection of pamphlets and brochures pertaining to the East and West Association, New York]. © 2011 New-York Historical Society
referencedIn Downes, Irene. Irene Downes papers, 1926-1964. Georgia Newspaper Project
creatorOf Mental health lecture series sound recordings, 1949 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Town Hall Club (New York, N.Y.). [A collection of invitations to Town Hall Club and Town Hall, Inc. events, New York, New York]. © 2011 New-York Historical Society
referencedIn Earl Browder Papers, 1879-1990 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
creatorOf Records of Town Hall, Bulk, 1930-1978, 1900-1985 New York University. Archives
creatorOf Town Hall, Inc. records, 1895-1955, 1940-1955 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Vera Zorina papers, 1910-2001 (inclusive), 1933-2001 (bulk). Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Allen, Frederick Harold, 1890-. person
associatedWith Appel, Kenneth E. b. 1896. person
associatedWith Appel, Kenneth E. (Kenneth Ellmaker), b. 1896 person
associatedWith Baldwin, James, 1924-1987 person
associatedWith Bartemeier, Leo H. 1895-1982. person
associatedWith Belknap Collection for the Performing Arts. corporateBody
associatedWith Binger, Carl 1889-1976. person
associatedWith Binger, Carl (Carl Alfred Lanning), 1889-1976 person
associatedWith Browder, Earl, 1891-1973 person
associatedWith Denny, George V., 1899-1959. person
associatedWith Downes, Irene. person
associatedWith East and West Association (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Ely, Robert Erskine, b. 1861. person
associatedWith Fielde, Adele M., (Adele Marion) person
associatedWith Fromm, Erich, 1900-1980. person
associatedWith George A. Smathers Libraries. Dept. of Special and Area Studies Collections. corporateBody
associatedWith Gregory, Dick person
associatedWith Hatfield, Mark O., 1922- person
correspondedWith Hocking, William Ernest, 1873-1966 person
associatedWith Jacobi, Mary Putnam, 1842-1906 person
associatedWith Knight, Robert P., 1902-. person
associatedWith Kubie, Lawrence S. 1896-1973. person
associatedWith League for Political Education (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Mead, Margaret, 1901-1978. person
associatedWith Nader, Ralph person
associatedWith New York Times Company corporateBody
associatedWith New York University. Division of General Education. corporateBody
associatedWith New York University. Office of the Vice President and Secretary. corporateBody
associatedWith New York University. Office of Vice President and Secretary. corporateBody
associatedWith New York University. School of Continuing Education. corporateBody
associatedWith Overstreet, H. A. 1875-1970. person
associatedWith Powell, Paulus P. person
associatedWith Rennie, Thomas A. C. 1904-1956. person
associatedWith Rusk, Howard A., 1901-. person
associatedWith Senn, Milton J. E., 1902-. person
associatedWith Sheats, Paul Henry, 1907- person
associatedWith Strecker, Edward Adam, 1886-. person
associatedWith Town Hall Club (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Town Hall Club (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Town Hall Club (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Voznesenskii, Andrei, 1933-2010 person
associatedWith Zorina, Vera. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York (State)--New York
United States
New York (N.Y.)
New York (State)--New York
United States
New York (State)--New York
Subject
Women--Suffrage
Musicians--Archives
America's town meeting of the air (Radio program)
Singers--Archives
Social problems
Centers for the performing arts--Archives
Lectures and lecturing
Political activists
People with disabilities--Psychology
Male singers--Archives
Auditoriums
World politics--1945-1955
Entertainers
World politics--1900-1945
Mental health
Radio broadcasting
Concerts
Auditoriums--New York (State)--New York
Civics
Radio addresses, debates, etc
Civic improvement
Psychiatry
Television broadcasting
Adult education
Opera--Archives
Interpersonal relations
Women singers--Archives
Music-halls
Women political activists
Alcoholism
Concerts--New York (State)--New York
Musical performance
Music archives
Occupation
Function

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