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Melody Maids Collection

 Collection
Identifier: AC-633

Scope and Content Note

The centerpiece of the collection consists of almost 200 scrapbooks which document the history of the Melody Maids. The earliest scrapbooks were Eloise Milam's personal memory books from the 1930's. After the formation of the Melody Maids, typically there are scrapbooks that were made for every year which include a yearly trips scrapbook and a yearly special trip scrapbook. In addition, there are scrapbooks for special events that include Ms. Milam’s birthdays, Christmas celebrations, and Melody Maids’ reunions. There are also miscellaneous scrapbooks that highlight other activities that involved Ms. Milam and the Melody Maids. Many of these scrapbooks fill more than one volume.

Generally the Ms. Milam and the Melody Maids' scrapbooks document the performances and trips taken by the Melody Maids. They are filled with newspaper clippings announcing and reviewing performances; letters requesting a visit from the Melody Maids; letters of appreciation for their performances; photographs; and other memorabilia. Although scrapbooks usually cover just one year, files in the books may not be in perfect chronological order. Other scrapbooks also include programs related to events occurring after the Melody Maids disbanded in 1972 and particular events related to Ms. Milam’s life which continued until her death in 2008.

Other files in the collection include the many certificates of appreciation and awards given to Ms. Milam and the Melody Maids. There are also dolls, gowns, quilts, audiovisual tapes, magazines articles, and other sundry files that document the group’s existence. The Maids even made doll-sized replicas of many of their costumes, all of which are kept in the Rose Room at the Julie Rogers Theater.

Dates

  • 1930-2013

Creator

Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Access Restrictions

Some restrictions may apply.

Copyright

The Tyrrell Historical Library does not hold copyright, which is retained by The Melody Maids Foundation. The researcher must secure permission to publish. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to the Tyrrell Historical Library. The researcher assumes full responsibility for complying with copyright, literary property rights, and libel laws.

Historical Note

The Melody Maids of Beaumont, Texas, was an all-girls choral group that performed from 1942 to 1972. It traveled around the world to military bases in order to entertain the troops. The group was directed by Eloise Rush Milam (1908-2008), who had studied music her entire life, and taught music at Dick Dowling Junior High School in Beaumont. Additionally, she gave private voice lessons, and some of her students became the first group of Melody Maids in 1942.

The Melody Maids first appeared at a bond rally given at the Jefferson Theater on July 4, 1942. The group had not officially formed at that time, and in fact did not even have a name. "Melody Maids" was chosen on a whim, with no member of the group suspecting that it would continue past that particular performance. The group was well-received, however, and so it began performing at more events around Beaumont. They sang frequently for the Lions' Club, who sponsored the group and helped them raise money for their tours for years to come.

A turning point for the group came in December of 1942, when the Melody Maids sang for the first time for a military camp. The Maids traveled to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and performed a show for the men stationed there. Overwhelmed by the enthusiasm with which they were received, the Maids accepted more invitations to sing at other bases, thus beginning their decades of service to the military. Their trips began to extend across the United States – they visited San Francisco, New York City, and Chicago, singing for Lions' Club conventions, and always making time to sing for veterans' hospitals and other military bases.

In 1952, the Melody Maids took their first international trip, traveling to England to sing for soldiers there. The Maids funded this trip on their own, putting on ticket sales, benefit dances, and silver teas. Their shows were so popular with the troops, however, that the soldiers requested them most frequently of all entertainers. In light of this popularity, all Melody Maids tours after 1956 were paid for by the Department of Defense Entertainment Branch. The Maids toured Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Greenland, and Iceland. All in all, they made four tours of Europe, several to England, three to Asia, seven to the far North, four to the Caribbean, five to Mexico, and seven to Hawaii ("Melody Maids," Texas State Historical Association).

The Melody Maids were all junior high and high school aged girls. As such, Eloise sought to teach them more than just music. She explained that she taught them all "music, morals, and manners," with music being the least important of the three. In later years, the women considered this training one of the best results of being a Melody Maid.

In 1972, when her husband, Mason, retired from Mobil Oil, Eloise decided to end the Melody Maids. Former Maids continued to gather at annual reunions and to celebrate Eloise's birthday. They also formed the Melody Maid Foundation, which sponsored a $10,000 scholarship fund to Lamar University. The Foundation opened an exhibit room, called the Melody Maid Rose Room, for its scrapbooks and memorabilia in the Julie Rogers Theater. Eloise passed away in 2008, but the Melody Maids continue to reunite every year to remember their life-changing experiences as part of the group.

Extent

360 Cubic Feet (360 cubic feet, materials are unboxed and on display shelves in museum)

Abstract

The Melody Maids were a girls' choir which traveled the United States and the world to perform for military bases from 1942 to 1972. Led by Eloise Rush Milam, the Melody Maids learned not just music, but also decorum and manners. This collection holds almost 200 scrapbooks made by Ms. Milam and the Maids during the group's thirty years of existence and the decades of celebrations and reunions that followed..

Organization of Collection

This collection is organized into six series that include Scrapbooks and Other Materials:

  1. Series 1: Eloise Milam Scrapbooks, 1930-2004
  2. Series 2: Special Yearly Trip Scrapbooks, 1945-1967
  3. Series 3: All Trips Yearly Scrapbooks, 1942-2001
  4. Series 4: Special Events Scrapbooks, 1942-2013
  5. Series 5: Miscellaneous Scrapbooks, 1942-2001
  6. Series 6: Other Materials, 1930-2013

Acquisition Information

In 2013 September the Melody Maids gave permission to the Tyrrell Historical Library to begin to scan and digitize all materials in their collection.

Accruals

Further accruals are expected.

Related Material

Eloise Milam Papers, AC-087

Lena Milam Papers, AC-018

Single Scanned files from Donors to the Beaumont 175 : 175 years of Beaumont history through the eyes of the Beaumont Enterprise and its readers Collection, AC-661.

Separated Material

The majority of the Melody Maids collection remains in the Rose Room at the Julie Rogers Theater.

Bibliography

"Melody Maids." Texas State Historical Association.

Processing Information

Finding aid encoded by Tyrrell Historical Library staff in 2013 October and revised in 2015 April.

Title
Finding Aid for the Melody Maids Collection, 1930-2013
Author
Tyrrell Historical Library Staff
Date
2015 April 20
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Tyrrell Historical Library Archives Repository

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