Guide to the Charles S. Benson Papers circa 1930s-1960s
Cage 871

Summary Information

Repository
Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries
Title
Charles S. Benson Papers
ID
Cage 871
Date [inclusive]
1930s-1960s
Extent
3.0 boxes
General Physical Description note
3.25 linear feet of shelf space
Language
English
Abstract
This collection contains materials related to piano teacher Charles Stanton Benson. It includes personal diaries, photographs, and estate papers, as well as music-related items, such as compositions, recital programs, student ledgers, and newspaper clippings on his studio.

Preferred Citation note

[Item Description] Charles S. Benson papers, circa 1930s-1960s

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.

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Biographical/Historical note

Charles Stanton Benson (1874-1959) was a piano teacher who lived a reclusive lifestyle in northern Idaho. Benson hailed from a pioneering Northwest family, who settled in Walla Walla, Washington during the nineteenth century. According to the Fort Walla Walla Historical Society, Benson was the first white child born in eastern Oregon Territory. Instead of following the family business of farming, Benson studied at the Whitman College Conservatory of Music, where he graduated circa 1897. By 1912, he led the Benson Orchestra, but with the arrival and popularity of jazz in the subsequent decades, the group disbanded. Benson worked at a piano store in Walla Walla, where he traveled around Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, before settling down in Idaho. He opened a studio in Wallace before moving to Kellogg in 1918.

Little is known about his first marriage, other than he had a daughter who died in early adulthood, named Paloma Zuerita Benson Spenier (1902-1930), and his marriage did not last. In 1929, he married Pearl Wilson, a woman twenty years his junior. Both partners studied and were devout Christian Scientists. According to the donor of this collection, Larry Persons, Pearl destroyed Benson's diaries dating prior to 1934, as well as some other documents that dealt with Benson's working with other women. He also observed that Charles' and Pearl's marriage was not a happy one.

Benson owned the studio in Kellogg until 1932, when he started teaching out of his home. He lived in a cabin owned by the U.S. Forest Service in Two Mile Creek, outside of Osburn, Idaho, at first during the summers, and eventually full time. In 1955, he gave up the cabin for good, as it was falling into disrepair. In the same year, he also suffered a stroke. He died in 1959 and was buried in Walla Walla with his pioneering family members.

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Scope and Contents note

This collection contains materials related to piano teacher Charles Stanton Benson. It includes personal diaries, photographs, and estate papers, as well as music-related items, such as compositions, recital programs, student ledgers, and newspaper clippings on his studio.

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Arrangement note

This collection is arranged in two series:

Series 1: Personal papers, circa 1800s-1970s. This series consists of Benson's personal diaries from 1934 until his death in 1959. Also in this series are his probate and estate records, letters to family and friends, photographs taken by Benson, and professional photographs of family.

Series 2: Music papers, circa 1800s-1940s. This series consists of Benson's papers related to his time teaching piano. The bulk of the series are hand-written compositions by Benson, likely dating from the early twentieth century, but most are undated. There are also items from teaching, such as recital programs from the 1920s, professional letterhead, paid receipts by students, and ledgers of students' lessons. There is also a metal sign that was outside of Benson's studio.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries © 2017

http://www.libraries.wsu.edu/masc
Terrell Library
P.O. Box 645610
Pullman, WA, 99164-5610
509-335-6691
mascref@wsu.edu

Conditions Governing Access note

This collection is open and available for research use.

Conditions Governing Use note

Copyright restrictions may apply.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Larry Gene Persons donated this collection to the Washington State University Libraries in 1997 (MS.1997.15).

Processing Information note

Megan Ockerman processed this collection in May of 2017.

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Controlled Access Headings

Subject(s)

  • Idaho.
  • Music teachers -- Archives
  • Music teachers -- Idaho -- History -- Sources
  • Music.

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Collection Inventory

Series 1: Personal papers circa 1800s-1970s 

Box Folder

Diaries (26 items) and day planners (3 items). 1934-1959 

1

Biographical sketch of Charles Benson by Larry Persons. circa 1997 

2 1

Legal and estate documents. 1954-1972 

2 2

Letters and sketches. 1930s-1950s 

2 3

Miscellaneous items. circa 1950s 

2 4

Photographs: family. 1800s-1960s 

2 5

Photographs: Lolo Hot Springs. undated 

2 6

Photographs: landscapes. undated 

2 7

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Series 2: Music papers 

Box Folder

Miscellaneous items. 1800s-1940s 

2 8

Student recital programs. circa 1920s 

2 9

Compositions: lyrics undated 

3 1

Compositions: "A Soldier's Sweetheart." undated 

3 2

Compositions: "Rose Carnival March." circa 1904 

3 3

Compositions: "Midwinter Carnival March." undated 

3 4

Benson compositions. undated 

3 5-8

Realia: metal Chas. S. Benson studio sign. undated 

3

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