Charles A. Fullerton Papers, 1900-1956

Collection Overview

Title: Charles A. Fullerton Papers, 1900-1956

Record Series: 14/09/02/02

Record Group:

14/09/02 Faculty & Staff Papers

Creator: Fullerton, Charles A.

Date: 1900-1956

Extent: 4 boxes (2.29 linear feet)

Repository: Special Collections and University Archives, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa.

Language: Materials entirely in English.

Information for Users

Accessing the Collection:

No restrictions. Materials are open for research.

Technical Access: The recorded media in Series 5 was recorded on phonograph records and requires special playback equipment for access and use.

Sensitive Materials Statement: Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy or similar laws, and the Iowa Open Records Law (see Iowa Code § 22.7). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of Northern Iowa assumes no responsibility.

Preferred Citation: [Identification of item], in the [Series Title] #[series number], [folder number or title when applicable], [Collection Name], Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa.

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Historical Note

Professor Charles Alexander Fullerton was a member of the Iowa State Normal School and Iowa State Teachers College (later UNI) faculty from 1897-1934 before continuing as an emeritus faculty member until his death in 1945. He had a national reputation in the area of music education with special recognition for his work with rural schoolchildren.

He attended Iowa State Teachers College (ISTC) where he received a bachelor's degree in music in 1890. He later was awarded an honorary master's degree by the Chicago Musical College and did post-graduate work at both the University of Chicago and Harvard University.

Fullerton taught in rural schools and served as principal of schools in Norway, Parkersburg, and Manson, Iowa, before returning to ISTC in 1897 to begin work in the music department.

Recognizing that many rural school teachers lacked the musical skills necessary to teach the subject, Fullerton worked to bring better musical training to students in 8,600 one-room schools in Iowa. He created what became the "Fullerton choir plan," which used specially selected phonograph records to teach rural school students.

Additionally, Professor Fullerton was the author of several textbooks that have since been widely used in public schools, including Choir Songs and Practical Instruction in Public School Music (1900), New Song Book and Music Reader (1910), and New Elementary Music (1938).

Fullerton was also involved in music education at the state and national level, serving as chairman of the National Education Association music section; president of the National Music Supervisor's Conference; chairman of the National Association of Music Teachers' public school section; president of the Society of Music Teachers in Iowa; and chairman of the Iowa State Teachers Association music section.


  • Series 1: Books
  • Series 2: Biographical Information
  • Series 3: Correspondence
  • Series 4: Rural School program
  • Series 5: Media

Scope and Content

The collection is arranged into five series. The first, Books, contains seven titles and is a selection of Fullerton's music education textbooks. See the collection inventory for individual titles. The second series, Biographical Information, is comprised of print obituaries, tributes, and news clippings about Fullerton and his career. Also included are three items related to other aspects of Fullerton's career, such as a list of his publications, a Society of Music Teachers of Iowa annual convention booklet, and a program for the "9th Annual May Music Festival." Series 3, Correspondence, dates from 1928-1936 and is arranged chronologically. The bulk of the letters were written between Fullerton and President O.R. Latham. Topics include discussions regarding music department course offerings, staffing recommendations and considerations, department budget information, and memos to departmental staff.

An item of particular note is a letter to Latham dated November 22, 1933, in which Fullerton discusses "the Board's" decision "in severing my connection with this institution" and his hope to continue his work and research regarding rural school music classes.

The fourth series, Rural School Program, provides details about Fullerton's work in that area, including instructions to implement his "Choir Plan." Dates range from 1929-1950, with a number of undated items. Materials range from those written by and about Fullerton and consist of articles, pamphlets, booklets, correspondence, speeches, and both blank and completed charts and reports related to rural schools. Also included is one photograph of a 1930 Clark County rural school choir and an image of the 1931 Tri-State Choir. The series is arranged chronologically.

The fifth series, Media, is comprised of three undated phonographic albums incorporating Fullerton's teaching method, including "Together We Sing" Album 1, consisting of four phonographic records and "Together We Sing" Album 13, also consisting of four phonographic records. The third album is the cover of "Together We Sing" Album 3, but contains phonographic records not associated with that album. The albums were compiled under the musical direction of Irving Wolfe, former member of the Iowa State Teachers College faculty, and Margaret Fullerton, also a member of the Iowa State College faculty and Charles Fullerton's daughter. Also included in this series are scrapbook pages relating to the rural school chorus as well as photographs of Professor Fullerton.

The scrapbook pages date primarily from the early 1920s-1930, with a few items from 1914. The various news clippings and pieces of correspondence all relate to the rural school program. Also included are excerpts from "A One Book Course in Elementary Music and Selected Songs for Schools" by Fullerton. The photographs are largely undated, with a few from the 1930s and 1940s.


Box 1

  • Folder 1: Choice Songs and Practical Instruction in Public School Music (abridged edition, June 1900)
  • Choice Songs and Practical Instruction in Public School Music (C.A. Fullerton Co., Cedar Falls, IA, 1900) (3 copies)
  • Choice Songs and Practical Instruction in Public School Music (Fullerton & Gray, Cedar Falls, IA, 1900)
  • The New Song Book and Music Reader (Fullerton & Gray, Cedar Falls, IA, 1910)
  • The New Song Book and Music Reader (abridged edition, Fullerton & Gray, Cedar Falls, IA, 1920) (2 copies)
  • A One Book Course in Elementary Music and Selected Songs for Schools (Wallace Publishing Company, Des Moines, IA, 1931)
  • A One Book Course in Elementary Music and Selected Songs for Schools (Follett Publishing Company, Chicago, 1933) (2 copies)
  • New Elementary Music: A One Book Course by Charles Fullerton (Follett Publishing Company, Chicago, 1936) (2 copies)
  • Together We Sing: Based on the Original Work of Charles A. Fullerton (Follet Publishing Company, Chicago, 1950)
  • Glee Club Songs (Fullerton & Gray, Cedar Falls, Iowa, 1906)


Box 2:

  • Folder 1: Biographical Information [Series 2]

  • Folder 2: Correspondence, 1928-1936 [Series 3]

  • Folder 3: Rural School Program, 1929-1941 [Series 4]

  • Folder 4: Rural School Program, 1942-1950; Undated [Series 4]


Box 3:

  • Rural school chorus scrapbook pages [Series 5]

  • Photographs of Professor Fullerton [Series 5]


Box 4:

  • “Together We Sing,” Album 1 [Series 5]

  • “Together We Sing,” Album 3 cover [Series 5]

  • “Together We Sing,” Album 13 [Series 5)


  • Waterloo Courier, December 14, 1945.

Processing Information

Processed by University Archivist Gerald L. Peterson, late 1970s; reprocessed by Gerald L. Peterson, January 2010; updated April 12, 2011 (GP); updated September 24, 2015 (GP). Updated by Library Associate Dave Hoing, January 2018 and April 2018. Finding aid updated by Tessa Wakefield, December 2018. Linear feet updated September 2017.