Texas Archival Resources Online

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Descriptive Summary

Historical Note

Scope and Content Note

Organization of Collection

Restrictions

Index Terms

Related Material

Separated Material

Administrative Information

Bibliography

Description of Series

Scrapbooks, 1930-2008

Other Materials

Tyrrell Historical Library, Beaumont Public Library System

Finding Aid for the Melody Maids Collection, 1930-2008



Descriptive Summary

Creator: Milam, Bonnie Eloise Rush, 1908-2008; Melody Maids
Title: Melody Maids Collection
Dates: 1932-2008
Abstract: The Melody Maids were a girls' choir who 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 over 150 scrapbooks made by Milam and the Maids during the group's thirty years of existence.
Identification: AC-633
Extent: 158 scrapbooks; 5 costumes; 40 plaques
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Tyrrell Historical Library, Beaumont Public Libraries,  695 Pearl St,  Beaumont, TX 77701

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.

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Scope and Content Note

The centerpiece of the collection consists of 158 scrapbooks which document the history of the Melody Maids. The earliest scrapbooks were Eloise Milam's personal scrapbooks from the 1930s. After the formation of the Melody Maids, there are two scrapbooks for every year: a general Melody Maids scrapbook, and a personal scrapbook created by Milam. There are also scrapbooks for every major trip taken by the Melody Maids. Some of these scrapbooks fill more than one volume.

The 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, items in the books may not be in absolute perfect chronological order.

After the Melody Maids disbanded in 1972, former members continued to gather for annual reunions, and to celebrate Eloise's birthday. They continued to make scrapbooks documenting these reunions, and thus the scrapbooks continue up to 2008, when Eloise died.

Other items in the collection include the many certificates of appreciation and awards given to Eloise and the Melody Maids. There are also loose photographs, pamphlets, and magazines with articles on the Maids.

Five gowns worn by the Melody Maids are preserved. In addition, the Maids made doll-sized replicas of many of their costumes, which are kept in the Rose Room at the Julie Rogers Theater.

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Organization of Collection

This collection is organized into 2 series.
Scrapbooks
Other Materials

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Restrictions

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.

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Index Terms

Personal Names
Milam, Bonnie Eloise Rush, 1908-2008
Organizations
Melody Maids (Beaumont, Tex.)
Subjects
Choral music
Choirs (Music)--Beaumont (Tex.)
American music
Entertainers
Locations
Beaumont (Jefferson county, Texas : inhabited place)
San Francisco (San Francisco county, California : inhabited place)
New York (New York : inhabited place)
Hawaii (United States : state)
United Kingdom (Europe : nation)
France (Europe : nation)
Germany (Europe : nation)
Italy (Europe : nation)
Iceland (Europe : nation)
Greenland (North and Central America : dependent state)
Bermuda (North and Central America : dependent state)
Azores (Portugal, Europe : autonomous region)
Japan (Asia : nation)
South Korea (Asia : nation)
Philippines (Asia : nation)
Newfoundland and Labrador (Canada : province)
Genres/Formats
Scrapbooks
Photographs
Pamphlets

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Related Material

Eloise Milam Papers

Lena Milam Papers

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Separated Material

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

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Melody Maid Collection, 1932-2008, AC-633, Tyrrell Historical Library, Beaumont, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Given permission, by the Melody Maids Foundation, to begin scanning materials in 2013 September.

Processing Information

Finding aid revised and encoded by Tyrrell Historical Library staff, 2013 October.

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Bibliography

"Melody Maids." Texas State Historical Association.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

 

Scrapbooks, 1930-2008

Item
1 Eloise Rush Milam, 1930-935
Item
2 Eloise Rush Milam, 1936-1937
Item
3 Eloise Rush Milam, 1938-1939
Item
4 Eloise Rush Milam, 1941
Item
5 Eloise Rush Milam, 1942-1945
Item
6 Eloise Rush Milam, 1942-1944
Item
7 Eloise Rush Milam, 1945
Item
8 Melody Maids, 1942-1944
Item
9 Melody Maids, 1945
Item
10 Melody Maids, 1945
Item
11 Melody Maids, 1946
Item
12 Melody Maids, 1946-1947
Item
13 Melody Maids, 1947
Item
14 Melody Maids, 1947-1948
Item
15 Melody Maids, 1948
Item
16 Melody Maids, 1948-1949
Item
17 Melody Maids, 1949
Item
18 Eloise Milam, 1949
Item
19 Melody Maids, 1950
Item
20 ,
Item
21 Melody Maids, 1951
Item
22-23 Eloise Milam (2 volumes), 1951
Item
24 Spindletop Melody Maids, 1951
Item
25 Melody Maids, New York Trip, 1951
Item
26 Melody Maids, Beaumont, 1952
Item
27 Eloise Milam, 1952
Item
28 Eloise Milam, 1953
Item
29 Melody Maids, Beaumont, 1953
Item
30 Melody Maids, Beaumont, 1954
Item
31 Eloise Milam, 1954
Item
32 Eloise Milam, 1955
Item
33 Melody Maids, Beaumont, 1955
Item
34 Melody Maids, Beaumont, 1956
Item
35 Eloise Milam, 1956
Item
36 Melody Maids, Beaumont, 1957
Item
37 Eloise Milam, 1957
Item
38 Melody Maids, Beaumont, 1958
Item
39 Melody Maids, Beaumont, 1957-1958
Item
40 Melody Maids, 1959
Item
41 Eloise Milam, 1958-1959
Item
42 Melody Maids, 1960
Item
43 Eloise Milam, 1960
Item
44 Eloise Milam, 1961
Item
45 Melody Maids, Beaumont, 1961
Item
46 Melody Maids, Beaumont, 1961
Item
47 Eloise Milam, 1962
Item
48 Eloise Milam, 1962
Item
49 Eloise Milam, 1963
Item
50 Melody Maids, 1964
Item
51 Melody Maids, Beaumont, 1963
Item
52 Eloise Milam, 1965
Item
53 Melody Maids, 1965
Item
54 Eloise Milam, 1966
Item
55 Eloise Milam, 1967
Item
56 Eloise Milam, 1968
Item
57 Melody Maids, Beaumont, 1968
Item
58 Eloise and Melody Maids, Beaumont, 1972
Item
59 Reunion, Melody Maids, 1975
Item
60 Reunion, 1984
Item
61 Reunion, 1985
Item
62 Reunion, 1986
Item
63 Reunion, 1987
Item
64 Reunion, 1988
Item
65 Eloise Milam Birthday, 1988
Item
66 Melody Maids #1, 1989
Item
67 Melody Maids #2, 1989
Item
68 Melody Maids, 1990
Item
69 Reunion, 1990
Item
70 Melody Maids and Reunion, 1991
Item
71 Eloise Milam Birthday, 1991
Item
72 Melody Maids and Eloise Milam #1, 1992
Item
73 Melody Maids and Eloise Milam #2, 1992
Item
74 Melody Maids #1, 1993
Item
75 "Let's go to San Francisco," 1947
Item
76 Lions San Francisco, 1947
Item
77 Mexico, 1948
Item
78 Lions, New York, 1948
Item
79 Rotary, New York, 1949
Item
80 New York, "We the People," 1951
Item
81 Melody Maids at Fort Hood, 1952
Item
82 England and Paris, 1952
Item
83 Christmas, 1952
Item
84 Hawaii, 1953
Item
85 Caribbean, 1954
Item
86 Northeast Air Command, Summer 1954
Item
87 Hawaii, Christmas 1954
Item
88 United States, 1955
Item
89 Northeast Air Command, 1955
Item
90 Bermuda, Azores, 1955
Item
91 Europe, Vol. 1, 1956
Item
92 Europe, Vol. 2, 1956
Item
93 NAEC and United States, 1956
Item
94 Hawaii, 1958
Item
95 Far East, Vol. 1, 1959
Item
96 Far East, Vol. 2, 1959
Item
97 Mexico/NAEC/California, 1960
Item
98 New York, California, Caribbean, 1961
Item
99 Far East, 1962
Item
100 Europe, 1963
Item
101 Hawaii, 1963
Item
102 New York/Dallas, 1964
Item
103 NAEC, Far North, and California, 1965
Item
104 Florida, Nassau, Dominican Republic, 1965
Item
105 Hawaii, 1966
Item
106 England, France, California, 1967
Item
107 Far East, 1967
Item
108 25th Anniversary Celebration of Melody Maids, 1967
Item
109 Melody Maids Heart Gala, 1987
Item
110 50th Reunion, 1992
Item
111 Julie Rogers, 1990-1991
Item
112 Melody Maids and Eloise Milam - Business and Professional Women's Club
Item
113 Spindletop, 2001
Item
114 Milam Melody Maid Living Museum Scrapbook - "Dream"
Item
115 Eloise Milam Birthday, 1994
Item
116 Melody Maids, 1994
Item
117 Melody Maids Reunion, 1994
Item
118 Reunion, Vol. 3, 1995
Item
119 Melody Maids, 1995
Item
120 Eloise Milam and Melody Maids, Vol. 1, 1996
Item
121 Melody Maids Reunion and Eloise Milam Birthday, Vol. 2, 1996
Item
122 Eloise Milam Birthday, 1997
Item
123-125 Miscellaneous Scrapbooks (3)
Item
126 Tours, 1975-1976
Item
127 Tours, 1977-1978
Item
128 Tours, 1983-1984
Item
129 Scrapbook, 1981-1982
Item
130 Tender Moments
Item
131 The Dream
Item
132 Melody Makers
Item
133 Tours, 1979-1980
Item
134 Eloise Milam, 1965
Item
135 Melody Maids Special, Vol. 2
Item
136 Eloise Milam and the Melody Maids, undated
Item
137 Souvenir Programs Scrapbook
Item
138 Gethrel Franke Scrapbook, #1
Item
139 Christmas, 1987
Item
140 Christmas, 1991
Item
141 Christmas, 1992
Item
142 Christmas, 1993
Item
143 Christmas, 1994
Item
144 Christmas, 1995
Item
145 Christmas, 1996
Item
146 Christmas, 1997
Item
147 Birthday and Christmas, 1999
Item
148 Christmas, 2000
Item
149 Christmas, 2001
Item
150 Christmas, 2002
Item
151 Christmas, 2003
Item
152 Christmas, 2004
Item
153 Christmas and Eloise Milam, 2006
Item
154 Melody Maids, 1956
Item
155 Melody Maids and Junior Maids Scrapbook
Item
156 Gethrel Franke's Melody Maids Scrapbook, 1948-1949
Item
157 Postcard Album (belonged to Marilynn L. Beckner)
Item
158 Photocopies of informational sheets on Melody Maids Rose Room
Item
159 Scrapbook - "In the early 50s, the local Camera Club met in the Melody Maids Clubhouse, Harmony Hut. The Melody Maids often served as models." Scrapbook has portraits of the Melody Maids.

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Other Materials

Item
160 Assortment of files related to Melody Maids activities (15-20 files)
Item
161 Songbooks in binders
Item
162-173 Videotapes (12)
Item
174 Sheet music
Item
175 Reunion Programs
Item
176 Spindletop Centennial Programs
Item
177 Tyrrell Historical Library Historical Booklets
Item
178 Collage of Bubba, Bucky, and Eloise
Item
179 Melody Maids Quilt Story Scrapbook
Item
180 Photo of Eloise, "Happy Birthday, Eloise"
Item
181 Six portraits of Melody Maids Foundation Presidents
Item
182 Thank you letter from Harley I. Gunn, of Esperia, California, 1990 June 29
Item
183 Photos of Miniature Maids
Item
184 Photos of Camp Polk, 1952
Item
185 Photo of Melody Maids in Japan
Item
186 Christmas Photo of Melody Maids
Item
187 Beaumont Lion's Club, Holiday Season 1944-1945
Item
188 Melody Maids at Texas Beach
Item
189 Leaving for San Francisco, Lions International Photo
Item
190 Collage of Melody Maids posing together
Item
191 "Heart Association honors Milam's voice and community," Beaumont Enterprise, 1987 January 8
Item
192 Photo of Melody Maids in Hawaii
Item
193 Photo of Melody Maids in theater - possibly the Jefferson Theatre, or the Rose Room at the Hotel Beaumont
Item
194 "Texas at the Beach" in Hawaii Weekly
Item
195 Congressional Record, House of Representatives, September 11, 2001, resolutions in honor of Bonnie Eloise Rush Milam and the Melody Maids
Item
196 Stock certificate of Dunlap-Delaney Oil Company
Item
197 KVLU Radio of Lamar University present "Spindletop the 80th Anniversary," recreation in words and music by the former Melody Maids and friends
Item
198 Spindletop 50th anniversary celebration
Item
199 Article, "Primetime," by Jamie Reed, from the Beaumont Enterprise: "An open heart: After surgery, Milam ready to resume songs"
Item
200 Collage of performances in Texas
Item
201 Collage of Melody Maids on tour around the United States
Item
202 Letter from George H. W. Bush, celebrating 50th anniversary of the founding of the Melody Maids, 1992 August 6
Item
203 Certificate from Texas Rangers, making Eloise Milam an honorary Texas Ranger, 1945
Item
204 Proclamation by Jack Brooks, 1994 August 4
Item
205 Collage of Melody Maids tours (4)
Item
206 Collage of Bonnie Eloise Rush Milam, with photos from childhood to adulthood (9 images)
Item
207 Proclamation to Eloise Milam, from Texas Governor William P. Clements, 1987 January 23
Item
208 Photo of a Melody Maid at the Berlin Wall
Item
209 Key to the City of Beaumont, given by Evelyn Lord to Eloise Milam
Item
210 Thyrza Looney Tyrrell portrait (designer of the Rose Room in the Julie Rogers Theater)
Item
211 Portrait of Maurice "Maury" Meyers, Mayor of Beaumont, 1978-1982, 1986-1990
Item
212 Portrait of Eloise sitting in front of her piano; Portrait of Eloise in her 60s or 70s
Item
213 Certificate from Daughters of the American Revolution, given to Eloise Rush Milam, for the DAR Honor Medal, 1981 December 2
Item
214 Two photos of Eloise in case, "State of Hawaii, 1959"
Item
215 Clocks given to Mason T. Milam for 44 years of service
Item
216 Issue of Texas Gulf Historical and Biographical Record with article on Melody Maids, 1989
Item
217-406 Approximately 189 dolls, some with Melody Maids costumes, some collected during the Maids' travels
Item
407-446 40 plaques
Item
447 Charles Leonard photographs 1989
Item
448-553 5 formal dresses, plus other costumes from travels
Item
554-555 2 quilts

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