Music School
Hormel Girls


Danelle Keck, doctoral student, music education & Jill Sullivan, associate professor, music education


The Hormel Girls Drum and Bugle Corps

Attend the musical Hormel Girls at the History Theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota

November 24 - December 23, 2007


Abstract from: The Hormel Girls, American Music, 2007, 25(3), 283–311

This study investigated the evolution of the Hormel Girls, a musical-sales organization created to employ World War II veterans to market food products produced by the George A. Hormel Company.  Organized initially as a competitive drum and bugle corps, over a seven-year period, 1946–1953, this group evolved into a traveling caravan that implemented an assortment of sales strategies and musical performances (stage show and radio broadcast) to sell products. Primary sources studied—interviews, videotapes, newspaper articles, recordings, diaries, programs, and letters—revealed the answers to the following research questions: Why did the Hormel Company decide to hire women veterans when most of America was focusing on employing male-military personnel?  What types of performance and sales responsibilities did the women have?  Musically, what differentiated their ensembles from others of the era?  The findings revealed that the Hormel Girls hold a unique place in American history for they were the first women’s drum and bugle corps to compete in the American Legion senior competition, as well as earn a prestigious place in the finals of those competitions. Also, the performance quality of their radio orchestra and stage show was on par with other professional groups of that era.  This sole industry performance opportunity for women veterans provided excellent pay and benefits creating a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all those involved. This research augments previous literature written on industry ensembles, drum and bugle corps, professional-performance opportunities for women musicians, and military women’s postwar employment.