The Beginnings of Music in the Boston Public Schools: Decisions of the Boston School Committee in 1837 and 1845 in Light of Religious and Moral Concerns of the Time
Description: The research problems of this dissertation were: 1) A description of the perceived value of music in light of political undercurrents in Boston prior to and during the years under investigation, and 2) the profile of the constituency of the Boston School Committee and Committee on Music in 1837 and 1845. Questions addressed the effect of religious and moral concerns of the day on the decision by the School Committee in 1837 to try music in the curriculum, and the possible effect of religious politics on Lowell Mason's dismissal from the schools in 1845. In the minds of mid-nineteenth century Bostonians, religious and moral values were intrinsic to the very nature of music. Key members on the School Committee portrayed music as being spiritual yet nonsectarian in its influence. Therefore, the findings suggest that music was believed to provide common ground between opposing and diverse religious sects. Reasons given for Mason's dismissal by John Sargent, a member of the Committee on Music, showed parallels to H. W. Day's accusations in the press a year earlier that Mason had managed his position in a sectarian manner. Sargent's background supports the theory that religious politics were at work in Mason's dismissal. Although members of the School Committee of 1845 were religious, only isolated cases support the proposition that any of them would have opposed Mason strictly on the basis of religious issues. Evidence suggests that their passivity to the action by the Committee on Music was probably due to concurrent public criticism of attempts at school reform within the Committee. While under such scrutiny, Committee members' inaction regarding Mason's dismissal may have reflected a desire not to jeopardize their own positions as a political body.
Date: August 1989
Creator: Miller, David Michael, 1951-