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Hubbard Harpsichord Records

Frank Hubbard  Search this
Hubbard Harpischords, Inc.  Search this
30 Cubic feet (76 boxes)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Business records
Project files
Financial records
Legal documents
Account books
Design drawings
Framingham (Mass.)
bulk 1949-2003
The collection documents approximately fifty years of the Hubbard Harpsichord business. The records include correspondence, financial and accounting materials, sales and promotional materials, records, newsletters, dealer files, project files, photographs, research files on European instruments, kit manuals, and design drawings.
Scope and Contents:
The collection documents the approximately fifty years of the Hubbard Harpsichord business. The records include correspondence, financial and accounting materials, sales and promotional materials, records, newsletters, dealer files, project files, photographs, research files on European instruments, kit manuals, and design drawings.

Series 1, Correspondence, 1949-2003, consists of letters among representatives of the company, individuals, churches, seminary schools, musical societies, companies, universities, harpsichord owners and enthusiasts. The correspondence is rich with information about historical issues, construction techniques, ownership genealogy, the early music movement, and Hubbard's importance to the historical building movement. The correspondence is handwritten and typed. There are some loose papers, notes, and postcards. Requests for information on the harpsichord manual kit, harpsichord purchases, and questions/answers pertaining to the building of harpsichords comprise the majority of the series. There are also invoices, checks, and publications such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Review, and Saturday Review. Correspondents include the Smithsonian Institution, Harvard University, Yale University, a number of professional harpsichordists, and dealers of the company. The series is arranged in chronological order, then alphabetically by correspondent's last name or business name.

Series 2, Business Files, 1965-2000, is divided into three subseries: Subseries 1, Annual Meetings and Reports, 1965-2000; Subseries 2, Corporate Affairs, 1960-1997, and Subseries 3, Employee Files, 1967-1997.

This series documents both the development of Frank Hubbard Harpsichords Kit, Inc., the company created to sell "do-it-yourself" kits, and Frank T. Hubbard Harpsichords, the finished instruments company. Hubbard headed the finished instruments company, officially established in 1973, until his death, while Lawrence C. Erdmann headed the kits company. The issue of what role the two separate companies should take was a prominent question before and after Hubbard's death. Diane Hubbard, Hubbard's wife, began running the company after Hubbard's death in 1976 until her retirement in 2000. This series is arranged topically, then in chronological order.

Subseries 1, Annual Meetings and Reports, 1965-2000, documents many of the issues the company faced at the corporate level. Minutes, corporate resolutions, and correspondence highlight yearly financial and operational activities, financial and operations projections, consolidation of the two companies, review of leadership positions, proposed investments, incoming stockholders and activities of the board of directors, and acquired leases.

Subseries 2, Corporate Affairs, 1960-1997, includes property leases the company held from its founding at Moody Street in 1959, until the 1980's. This subseries documents stockholder, stock purchases by Phil Cooper, a major shareholder in the company in the 1990's. Other items include the Hubbard Memorial Committee which documents a memorial concert, the establishment of the Historical Harpsichord Monograph essays, and some of Hubbard's publications. Dr. Howard Schott, author of the Historical Harpsichords series, and Dr. John D. Montgomery, chairman of the Frank Hubbard Memorial Committee are frequent correspondents. A finished instruments schedule documents (Box 21/folder 9), through notes and correspondence, the length of time it took to complete building the harpsichord. The same box holds records of the company's acquisition of a clavichord business (Box 21/folder 10), and a 1997 business plan (Box 21/folder 11).

Subseries 3, Employee Files, 1967-1996, consists of correspondence among representatives of the company, college students searching for internships, and job applicants seeking positions. The materials document the continually changing structure and hierarchy of the company through notes and correspondence. There are materials relating to the employment of Michel Van Hecke, an apprentice craftsman in the late 1960's, and Robert A. Murphy, a piano craftsman, in 1984, which document the company's hiring process over time.

Series 3, Frank Hubbard Harpsichords Kit, Inc., 1964-1997, is divided into three subseries: Subseries 1, Kit Instructions, 1964-1989, undated, Subseries 2, Price Lists and Costs, 1974-1999, undated, and Subseries 3, Catalogues of Hubbard Harpsichords, 1984-1997.

Determined to offer instruments of authenticity and perfection, Hubbard initially created a finished instruments company. In 1963, Hubbard also developed a kit manual which anyone with basic woodworking skills could follow in order to build their own harpsichord. This series is arranged topically, then chronologically.

Subseries 1, Kit Instructions, 1964-1989, undated, consists of the pioneering kit manuals Hubbard promoted while waiting for finished instrument orders. The earliest manual, 1964, is a general purpose harpsichord manual that is most likely an early kit for a French harpsichord. Others include the Flemish harpsichord, fortepiano by Johann Andreas Stein, a German maker of keyboard instruments, English bentside spinet, 17th century Flemish Ottavino, Flemish virginal-museler spinet, and Flentrop chamber organ.

Subseries 2, Price Lists and Costs, 1974-1999, undated, consists of the costs, price, and inventories related to the production of kit manuals.

Subseries 3, Catalogues of Hubbard Harpsichords, 1984-1997, contains Hubbard harpsichord catalogues and price list booklets. Orders for kits are with the packing lists under sales and promotional materials.

Series 4, Research, 1930-1973, is divided into eight subseries: Subseries 1, Notebooks, 1932-1973, undated; Subseries 2, Correspondence and Notes, 1955-1956, undated; Subseries 3 Drawings, 1950-1959; Subseries 4, Publications and Manuscripts, 1930-1974, undated; Subseries 5, Photographs, undated; Subseries 6, Card Files, undated; Subseries 7, Samples, undated; and Subseries 8, Miscellaneous, 1934-1960, undated.

Research files document Hubbard's efforts to perfect his skills building harpsichords in the 1940's and 1950's. Hubbard journeyed to archives in small towns and gathered information there. He also worked as an apprentice at Arnold Dolmetsch's workshop and later with Hugh Gough in England. This research eventually resulted in instruments that had all the qualities of their older models. This series is arranged topically, then chronologically.

Subseries 1, Notebooks, 1932-1973, includes Work and Ideas of Arnold Dolmestch, which paved the way for building harpsichords based on historical principles. Other notebooks include the Ruckers Taskin (an eighteenth century Flemish harpsichord) and Hubbard's notebook on the alteration of a Hemsch Harpsichord in 1972. There are some notebooks titled by volume that relate to the Hubbard and Dowd Company.

Subseries 2, Correspondence and Notes, 1955-1961, undated, consists of letters and technical notes such as workshop methods, the Ruckers Taskin, and notes from the Harding Museum. The majority of correspondence and notes are unidentified.

Subseries 3, Drawings, 1950-1959, undated, consists of tracings, rubbings, templates, and Hubbard and Dowd drawings of harpsichord designs and harpsichord parts. Some drawings depict the construction of harpsichords by earlier builders. The drawings are unprocessed.

Subseries 4, Publications and Manuscripts, 1930-1974, undated, includes loose pages of an "Ars Organi sketch," articles by Edwin W. Ripin, and loose pages of the French Encyclopedia. There are publications in French, such as a biographical note on the "Blanchet" describing Parisian harpsichord makers. Illustrated London News, Le Soir Illustre, Christian Science Monitor, and Cincinnati Enquirer magazine articles are also included.

Subseries 5, Photographs, undated, consists of unidentified photographs of harpsichords.

Subseries 6, Card Files, undated, consists of index cards documenting instruments examined and instrument makers. There is an index for the cards.

Subseries 7, Samples, undated contains DeQuoco harpsichord iron strings, wood samples, DeQuoco harpsichord wire, and soft iron wire samples.

Subseries 8, Miscellaneous Items, 1934-1960, undated, includes a map of Central Europe, sheet music, museum procedure forms, concert programs, Successor Brocco Instruments, a 1950's instrument maker of the fortepiano, and promotional material for instrument makers.

Series 5, Sales and Promotional Materials, 1961-2000, is divided into six subseries: Series 1, Sales Journals, 1983-1998, Series 2, Instruments on order, 1968-1987, Series 3, Dealer files, 1975-1990, Series 4, Packing lists, 1970-2000, Series 5, Promotional files, 1961-2001, and Series 6, Catalogs of Other Instruments. It is arranged topically then chronologically.

Subseries 1, Sales Journals, 1983-1998, consists of loose pages of expenses and receipts for the instruments produced by the company in the 1980's and 1990's. These include the French harpsichord, the English Bentside Spinet, fortepiano, virginal, ottavino, and organ.

Subseries 2, Instruments on Order, 1968-1987, includes correspondence between representatives of the company and individuals, companies, musical societies, and colleges relating primarily to orders for finished instruments. Requests for kit orders and replacement parts are included. There are also instrument-on-order tracking sheets, invoices, and shipping orders and forms that document the orders that were placed.

Subseries 3, Dealer Files, 1975-1990, contains correspondence between Hubbard representatives and dealers, both domestic and international, who promoted Hubbard harpsichords. The customs broker company, T.D. Downing, is also represented. Other materials include tracking sheets, shipping forms invoices, bills, checks, inventory lists, mail, telegrams, and certificates of insurance between the Hubbard Harpsichords Company and dealers. Dealers include Japanese companies like Arai and Company and German individuals like Klevers. Dealers from Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and United States are also represented.

Subseries 4, Packing Lists, 1970-2000, consists of the kit orders placed for the French harpsichord, English bentside spinet, fortepiano, virginal, ottavino, and organ the company produced. Some packing lists indicate the number of kits the company packed each year. The numbers on the folders indicate the number of kits produced by the company.

Subseries 5, Promotional Files, 1961-2001, includes correspondence and catalogs from festivals, exhibitions, workshops, and projects that helped the company reach out to the wider public. The Boston Early Music Festival, for which Diane Hubbard was a board member, is well represented. Workshops in skills such as voicing, tuning, repair, and general woodworking classes helped amateur craftsman receive instructions for harpsichord-related activities. The special projects document other activities and venues, such as high school projects, and other activities by the Hubbard's to share their knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, harpsichords.

Subseries 6, Catalogs of Other Instruments, undated, consists of competitors' catalogs for early instruments. Hubbard's notable competitors include Wallace Zuckerman (Zuckerman harpsichords), and Hubbard's former business partner, William Dowd. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by competitor name.

Series 6, Financial Records, 1976-2000, consists of general financial documents, balance sheets, tax information, and payrolls.

Materials include account receivables, kits work in progress, monthly expense budgets, accounts payable, cash disbursements, write-offs and cancellations, bad debts, finished instrument orders and sales, miscellaneous income, monthly totals from sales journals, cash disbursements petty cash statements, kits ordered and shipped, restorations and fixed assets. Balance sheets, tax information, payroll documents, and related income statements complement the general financial documents to document the company's finances. The materials are arranged chronologically, then topically.

Series 7, Legal Records, 1959-1987, undated, consists of memoranda, notes, correspondence, and financial materials relating to legal cases and commercial acquisitions for the Hubbard Harpsichord Company from the 1970's to 1980's. The series is divided into five subseries: Subseries 1, Notes of John Ashby, 1968-1977; Subseries 2, Notes of Henry S. Healy, 1973-1978; Subseries 3, Belt v. Hubbard, 1963-1977; Subseries 4, Correspondence, 1963-1979; and Subseries 5, Acquisitions and Mergers, 1959-1987.

Subseries 1, Notes of John Ashby, 1968-1977, consists of notes of the company's lead attorney John H. Ashby pertaining to legal agreements between Hubbard and Erdmann, Hubbard's estate, Belt v. Hubbard, and general financial matters.

Subseries 2, Notes of Henry S. Healy, 1973-1978, consists of the notes of Henry S. Healy regarding the company's acquisition of commercial real estate and leases.

Subseries 3, Belt v. Hubbard, 1963-1977, consists of correspondence, memos, notes, affidavits, pleading matters, and pending matters used in the Belt v. Hubbard case.

Subseries 4, Correspondence, 1963-1979, consists of general correspondence. Wallets five through nine deal with merger acquisitions and sublease agreements during the 1970's and 1980's. Reviews of the company's financial operations are included in accountant reports, tax returns, and documents for the board of directors meetings.

Series 8, Soundboard Newsletters, 1979-1999, consists of a yearly newsletter with information about the company's activities for harpsichord enthusiasts.

Series 9, Photographs, 1968-1993, undated, consists of two albums of harpsichord photos and slides at events and concert halls.

Series 10, Drawings, undated (unprocessed)
The collection is arranged into nine series.

Series 1: Correspondence, 1949-2003

Series 2: Business Files, 1965-2000

Subseries 2.1: Annual meetings and reports, 1965-2000

Subseries 2.2: Corporate Affairs, 1960-1997

Subseries 2.3: Employee Files, 1967-1996

Series 3, Frank Hubbard Harpsichord Kits, Inc., 1964-1997, undated

Subseries 3.1: Kit Instructions, 1964-1989, undated

Subseries 3.2: Price lists and costs, 1974-1999, undated

Subseries 3.3: Instruments on order, 1968-1987

Subseries 3.4: Catalogues of Hubbard Harpsichords, 1984-1997

Series 4: Research, 1930-1974

Subseries 4.1: Notebooks, 1932-1973, undated

Subseries 4.2: Correspondence and Notes, 1955-1961, undated

Subseries 4.3: Drawings, 1950-1959, undated (partially processed)

Subseries 4.4: Publications and Manuscripts, 1930-1974, undated

Subseries 4.5: Photographs, undated

Subseries 4.6: Card Files, undated

Subseries 4.7: Samples, undated

Subseries 4.8: Miscellaneous, 1934-1960, undated

Series 5: Sales and Promotional Materials, 1961-2001, undated

Subseries 5.1: Sales Journals, 1983-1998

Subseries 5.2: Dealer Files, 1975-1990

Subseries 5.3: Instruments on Order, 1968-1987

Subseries 5.4: Packing Lists, 1970-2000

Subseries 5.5: Promotional Files, 1961-2001

Subseries 5.6: Catalogs of Other Instruments, undated

Series 6: Financial Records, 1976-2000

Series 7: Legal Records, 1959-1987, undated

Subseries 7.1: Notes of John Ashby, 1968-1977

Subseries 7.2: Notes of Henry S. Healy, 1973-1978

Subseries 7.3: Belt v. Hubbard Materials, 1963-1977

Subseries 7.4: Correspondence, 1963-1979

Subseries 7.5: Acquisitions and Mergers, 1959-1987

Series 8: Soundboard Newsletters, 1979-1999

Series 9: Photographs, 1968-1993, undated
Biographical / Historical:
Frank Twombly Hubbard (1920-1976) was an American early instruments maker who with William R. Dowd (1922-2008) and the German harpsichord maker Martin Skowroneck, resurrected historical methods of harpsichord building. Many harpsichord makers in the United States are in debt to Frank Hubbard, his research, and his work with Dowd which became central to the twentieth century revival of harpsichord building in the United States.

Born on May 15, 1920, in New York, Hubbard graduated from Harvard University (Bachelor's, 1942; Master of Arts, 1947). At Harvard, Hubbard met William Dowd (1922-2008) who also had an interest in early instruments. Together they constructed a clavichord, an early stringed keyboard instrument used during the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries. Hubbard and Dowd both decided to leave Harvard to pursue instrument making. In 1947, Dowd went to work with John Challis in Michigan, while Hubbard went to England and became an apprentice at the workshop of Arnold Dolmetsch in Haslemere. Not learning much about the historic harpsichord, Hubbard worked with Hugh Gough in London in 1948. During his one-year stay with Gough, he was able to visit collections of early keyboard instruments around Europe and study the instruments of fifteenth to eighteenth century harpsichord makers.

Hubbard returned to the United States in 1949 and founded a workshop with Dowd, called Hubbard and Dowd, Inc., in Boston, Massachusetts, which was dedicated to building harpsichords on historical principles. Hubbard and Dowd restored harpsichords in public and private collections (including the Smithsonian) which helped improve their own techniques of design and construction. In 1958 the partnership ended and Hubbard formed his own workshop, Frank Hubbard Harpsichords, Inc. on the Lyman Estate in Waltham, Massachusetts. Dowd opened a larger workshop in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Hubbard held several fellowships--a Fulbright Fellowship (1957), American Philosophical Society Grant (1958) and the Belgium American Educational Foundation CRB Fellowship (1958)--to examine instrument collections in Europe. From 1967 to 1968, he set up the restoration workshop for the Musee Instrumental at the Paris Conservatoire. In the 1970s, he taught courses at Harvard and Boston Universities. Hubbard wrote Three Centuries of Harpsichord Making in 1965. Ralph Kirkpatrick, a harpsichordist, wrote, "Hubbard unquestionably knows more about the history and construction of harpsichords than anyone alive today."

Hubbard developed a harpsichord in 1963 based on a 1769 French harpsichord which was sold as a "do-it-yourself" kit. It included a manual and all the crucial parts. Any person with a good grasp of woodworking and basic knowledge of harpsichord making, with dedication and careful work, was able to produce a fine instrument. Other kit designs followed in subsequent decades, and were marketed and sold under the name of Frank Hubbard Harpsichord Kits, Inc.

Frank Hubbard died on February 26, 1976 in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Operations at the Hubbard shop continued under the direction of Hubbard's wife, Diane Hubbard until 2000. Diane Hubbard died in 2009. Approximately 300 instruments were built in the shop, and nearly 4,000 kits were sold to customers around the world.
Related Materials:
Materials at the National Museum of American History

Materials in the Archives Center

Dowd Harpsichord Collection, 1949-1997 (AC0593)

The Division of Culture and the Arts (now Division of Cultural and Community Life

The division has a Hubbard clavichord and harpsichords built by other makers.
The collection was donated by Hendrik Broekman, President, Hubbard Harpsichords, Inc., on September 20, 2011.
Collection is open for research but is stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Contact the Archives Center for information at or 202-633-3270.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Musical instrument makers  Search this
Harpsichord makers  Search this
Harpsichord  Search this
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Business records -- 20th century
Newsletters -- 20th century
Photographs -- 1950-2000
Project files
Financial records -- 20th century
Legal documents -- 20th century
Account books -- 20th century
Correspondence -- 20th century
Research -- 20th century
Design drawings -- 20th century
Hubbard Harpsichord Records, 1930-2003, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
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