The Thursday Music Club was organized on August 4, 1898 in order "to promote the knowledge and enjoyment of good music." The first members of the Club included Mrs. C. T. Kittredge, President, Mrs. W. A. Gordon, Vice-President, and Miss Florence Bosard, Secretary-Treasurer. Other original members included Mrs. J. E. Cooley, Mrs. W. A. Currie, and Mrs. R. D. Campbell. The Club was formed at the home of Mrs. W.A. Gordon, 411 Reeves Drive in Grand Forks.
Initially, membership was by audition only and included only performing musicians who were residents of Grand Forks. Membership was soon available to anyone "interested in music and extending it to the community" and able to pay club dues. No invitations were sent out. New members were traditionally enrolled at the October Tea, the first Thursday in October. The outstanding musician new to the community also performed at this tea. The Thursday Music Club Chorus began in 1904. In 1919, the Club affiliated with the National Federation of Music Clubs and was the prime mover in organizing the North Dakota branch. This branch had its first annual state convention in Grand Forks, in 1920. The Club maintained a library of music and owned a Steinway piano until 1970 when it was donated to Tufte Manor, Grand Forks. The piano had been purchased in 1904 with money from a $600 piano fund and a gift donation from John J. Murphy, father of Mrs. J. Nelson Kelley, active member of the Club.
The club encouraged the formation of Junior Federated Music Clubs in the high schools beginning in the 1920's and initiated a Rural School Music Project. The Project sponsored spring Rural School Music Contests and purchased portable victrolas, records, and songbooks for a circulating music library. The Club's participation ended in 1948 because the program operated on its own momentum. The 1920s also witnessed the creation of the Club’s annual Christmas Musicale, which began in 1923.
The Club did not escape the trials of the Depression and WWII. Annual dues were lowered twice in 1933 from $3.00 to $2.00. They were raised in 1945 to $2.50, in 1956 to $3.50, and in 1969 to $4.00. During the Depression, the Club dispensed with the expense of printed programs, substituting mimeographed ones, although again in 1936 the annual programs were printed. During WWII gas rationing often canceled chorus rehearsals, while in 1943 caused the cancellation of the Rural School Music Playday. Bas-relief plaques of composers were substituted as prizes instead of pennants in 1942 as felt was scarce. The War affected publicity and the newspaper carried shorter articles of Club activities with fewer pictures. The Club also followed the program suggestion made by the National Federation, to stress Americanism "in these times of European conflict and turmoil".
During WWII, the Club also began a radio program which broadcast fifteen minute monthly radio programs of members' performances and encouraged the communication with radio stations regarding the quality of the station's programing. The Club also bought several phonographs for use by servicemen on hospital ships and trains. The Club sponsored Young Artists Contests and its scholarship fund awarded scholarships to the Peace Garden Music Camp, to UND music students, and sent money to the State and National Federation of Music Clubs for scholarships.
The post-war years saw the Thursday Music Club continue to grow. Membership was steady, and the group continued to sponsor musical events and scholarships. The Club was also responsible for numerous concerts held by musicians from around the world. In 1995, the Club created the Gold Note Award, designed to honor those who promoted the enjoyment and appreciation of music in the Grand Forks area. The 1997 Red River Flood also effected the Thursday Music Club. Musical scores used by the Thursday Music Club Chorus were lost, and the location for the traditional Christmas Musicale was moved. In 1998, the Club celebrated its 100th Anniversary in the same home were the Club was initially formed in 1898.
Additional material was deposited by:
Irene Fletcher, Grand Forks, North Dakota, on November 19, 1987 (Acc.#87-1575)
Eleanor Johnson, Grand Forks, North Dakota, on October 8, 1999 (Acc.#99-2392)
Donation; Acc. 81-711