Nantucket Atheneum Podcast

Tonight In Atheneum Hall: Family Singing Groups

June 13, 2023 Nantucket Atheneum Season 5 Episode 1
Nantucket Atheneum Podcast
Tonight In Atheneum Hall: Family Singing Groups
Show Notes

James tells Janet about the family singing groups that dazzled the Atheneum audiences will their close harmonies and impressive musical talents. These 19th century "rock stars" toured the country sharing their music and their political messages. Find out what made them such an attraction and what were the values they were promoting through song.

References and Resources:

Videos of Harp Singing/Shape Singing

"Sacred Harp Singing," the musical background for American music

"The Old Granite State," anthem of the Hutchinsons

Photo of the Hutchinson Family Singers. c. 1845

Announcement for the Aeolians Performance, which appears in the Inquirer and Mirror on June 24, 1843

Billed as the “Cumbrian (Welsh) Infants,” an engraving from the September 18, 1841 edition of the Inquirer and Mirror shows the three younger siblings playing violin, concertina, and harp. Margaret and John Arthur are standing on tables, while their older brother David Edward stands in the center looking directly at the viewer.


Hutchinson Family founds Hutchinson, MN:

Judson, John, and Asa continued touring as a trio after their sister married, venturing into the midwestern states. In November 1855, the three brothers founded the town of Hutchinson, MN. It forbade liquor, bowling alleys, and gambling of all types, and granted that women “shall enjoy equal rights with men and shall have the privilege of voting in all matters not restricted by law.”

In 1942, muralist Elsa Jemne completed an egg tempera on plaster mural, The Hutchinson Singers, in the town's post office. Still there, post office murals were a thing and part of the New Deal. (That’s for another podcast…)


This has been a production of the Nantucket Atheneum.

It was hosted and edited by Janet Forest. Special thanks to Reference Library Associate James Greider for his knowledge and research. Newspaper announcement voiced by Andrew Cromartie. 

If you have an idea for what we should talk about next, send us an email at

The Nantucket Atheneum is located at 1 India Street in Nantucket, MA.

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