Frances Elliott Clark



Bibliography of Sources on This Member


Frances Elliott Clark was born on May 27th, 1860. She married John Clark at the age of fourteen, but yellow fever took her husband's life leaving her pregnant and a widow by the time she was twenty years old. She accepted her first position as a music supervisor at Pleasant Lake school where she taught both elementary and high school levels from 1888-1890.

In 1891 she accepted a position as music supervisor at Monmouth, Illinois. This position lasted for five years when she accepted a new position as music teacher in Ottumwa, Iowa. It was here in Ottumwa that she began giving a series of ten minute lectures before her choir rehearsals on topics such as the Rise of Opera, J.S.Bach, Chopin, and living composers. These were some of the first efforts of teaching music appreciation.

In 1903 Ms. Clark left Iowa for Milwaukee to become the Supervisor of Music in the schools. While in Milwaukee she organized children's music programs at the elementary level to teach children how to sing and read music. She also pioneered a plan to encourage ear-training at the kindergarten level.

Frances Elliott Clark was vice-president of the music section of the National Educators Association when the first meeting of music supervisors was held Keokuk, Iowa in 1907. Ms. Clark presided over the meeting and was instrumental in advocating the formation of the organizatin and future meetings.

Ms. Clark was very interested in technology and formed a strong relationship with the Victor Talking Machine company. She pioneered the use of using recordings in the classroom to teach music. She thought the phonograph was a great educational tool, allowing students to hear music they were singing performed by professional musicians. Under her leadership music of the world as well as American folk songs were recorded for use in the classroom.

By 1910 Frances Elliott Clark was enjoying a national reputation for having one of the most organized and highest quality music programs in the country. Her work with the Victor record company led to the Victor Company publishing its first educational catalog in 1911 and she endorsed one of the first music appreciation books, What We Hear in Music, by Anne Faulkner, a member of the Victor staff.

Ms. Clark retired to Salt Lake City, Utah, and continued to be an active force in music education. As a guest speaker at the 1952 meeting of the conference Ms. Clark was paid tribute as the only one of the founders who had attended all of the national meetings.

Frances Elliott Clark passed away in June of 1958. She left her mark as one of the most influential music educators of the twentieth century.


Birge, Edward Bailey. History of Public School Music in the United States. Reston: Music Educators National Conference, 1966.

Gray, Charles and Mark, Michael A History of American Music Education. New York: Schirmer Books, 1992.

Keene, James A. A History of Music Education in The United States. Hanover: University Press of New England, 1982.

Stoddard, Eugene M. Frances Elliott Clark: Her Life and Contributions to Music Education. Brigham Young University. 1968. Dissertation.



This information was compiled by Andrew Goodrich

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