Fadettes of Boston

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The Fadettes, ca. 1897

The Fadettes of Boston (1888-ca.1920) was an all-women orchestra based in Boston, Massachusetts, and directed by Caroline B. Nichols. "The original group of six expanded to twenty by 1898"[1] with "a first violin and director, four additional first violins, four second violins, two violas, two violincellos, two contrabassos, kettle-drums and a bass, two flutes and piccolo, two clarinets, two cornets, two French horns, three trombones, snare-drum and 'traps,' and piano-forte."[2] The group incorporated in 1895 as "the Fadettes of Boston."[3]

In 1898 "vaudeville manager B.F. Keith booked them into his theatres all over the United States. Between 1890 and 1920 Nichols claimed that the Fadettes gave over 6,000 concerts, half of them as headliners in first-class vaudeville theatres."[1] At a concert in Pittsburgh in 1902, for instance, the Fadettes played marches, waltzes, songs and arias by Frederic Field Bullard, Daniel Auber, Karl Michael Ziehrer, George M. Rosey, and others.[4] The group also performed at the Los Angeles Orpheum.[5]

The performers "wore shimmery gowns."[6] Among the musicians were Annie Andros Hawley[7] and Mildred Rogers.[4] Nichols "conducted the orchestra for thirty years and trained over six hundred women for professional careers as orchestral musicians."[8]


Variant names[edit]


  1. ^ a b Judith Tick. "Women as Professional Musicians in the United States, 1870-1900." Anuario Interamericano de Investigacion Musical, Vol. 9 (1973), pp. 95-133
  2. ^ Frances E. Willard (1897), Occupations for women: A book of practical suggestions, for the material advancement, the mental and physical development, and the moral and spiritual uplift of women, New York: The Success Company, OCLC 2665928 
  3. ^ University of Iowa Libraries. The Fadettes Womans Orchestra of Boston brochure, ca.1910
  4. ^ a b "Fadettes win approbation: women's orchestra delights admirers of good music at exposition." The Pittsburgh Press - Sep 20, 1902
  5. ^ Stan Singer. "Vaudeville in Los Angeles, 1910-1926: Theaters, Management, and the Orpheum." Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 61, No. 1 (Feb., 1992), pp. 103-113
  6. ^ Beth Abelson Macleod. "'Whence Comes the Lady Tympanist?' Gender and Instrumental Musicians in America, 1853- 1990." Journal of Social History, Vol. 27, No. 2 (Winter, 1993), pp. 291-308
  7. ^ Sketches of representative women of New England, Boston: New England Historical Pub. Co., 1904, OCLC 123500907 
  8. ^ Mary Brown Hinely. "The Uphill Climb of Women in American Music: Performers and Teachers." Music Educators Journal, Vol. 70, No. 8 (Apr., 1984), pp. 31-35
  9. ^ WorldCat. Boston Fadettes Ladies Brass Quartette. Morning Serenade, recorded on Aug. 10, 1897.
  10. ^ Fadette Ladies' Orchestra, no.25 Winter Street. Boston Almanac, 1894
  11. ^ "Fadette Ladies' Orchestra ... Mrs. Carrie B. Nichols as leader and Miss Ethel Atwood business manager." cf. Public Opinion v.14, no.1, Oct. 8, 1892

Further reading[edit]

  • "Fadettes took name from a Sands novel." The Pittsburgh Press - Jun 16, 1907
  • Blanche Naylor, The Anthology of the Fadettes. Boston, 1937.

External links[edit]

  • Johns Hopkins University, Levy Sheet Music Collection. Marie Louka (composer). The Fadettes; March & Two-Step. Philadelphia: World Publishing Co., 1904. "Dedicated to Mrs. Caroline B. Nichols, Director of the Fadettes of Boston, The Famous Ladies' Orchestra."