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

Eloise Milam Scrapbooks, 1930-2004

Special Yearly Trip Scrapbooks, 1945-1967

All Trips Yearly Scrapbooks, 1942-2001

Special Events Scrapbooks, 1952-2006

Miscellaneous Scrapbooks, 1942-2001

Other Materials, 1930-2013

Tyrrell Historical Library, Beaumont Public Library System

Finding Aid for the Melody Maids Collection, 1930-2013



Descriptive Summary

Creator: Melody Maids; Milam, Bonnie Eloise Rush, 1908-2008
Title: Melody Maids Collection
Dates: 1930-2013
Abstract: The Melody Maids were a girls' choir which 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 almost 200 scrapbooks made by Milam and the Maids during the group's thirty years of existence and the decades of celebrations and reunions that followed..
Identification: AC-633
Extent: 360 cubic feet, materials are unboxed and on display shelves in museum
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 almost 200 scrapbooks which document the history of the Melody Maids. The earliest scrapbooks were Eloise Milam's personal memory books from the 1930s. After the formation of the Melody Maids, typically there are scrapbooks that were made for every year which include a yearly trips scrapbook and a yearly special trip scrapbook. In addition there are scrapbooks for special events that include Milam’s birthdays, Christmas celebrations, and Melody Maids’ reunions. There are also miscellaneous scrapbooks that highlight other activities that involved Milam and the Melody Maids. Many of these scrapbooks fill more than one volume.

Generally the Milam and the Melody Maids' 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, files in the books may not be in perfect chronological order. Other scrapbooks also include programs related to events occurring after the Melody Maids disbanded in 1972 and particular events related to Milam’s life which continued until her death in 2008.

Other files in the collection include the many certificates of appreciation and awards given to Milam and the Melody Maids. There are also dolls, gowns, quilts, audiovisual tapes, magazines articles, and other sundry files that document the group’s existence. The Maids even made doll-sized replicas of many of their costumes, all of which are kept in the Rose Room at the Julie Rogers Theater.

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Organization of Collection

This collection is organized into six series that include Scrapbooks and Other Materials:
Series 1: Eloise Milam Scrapbooks, 1930-2004
Series 2: Special Yearly Trip Scrapbooks, 1945-1967
Series 3: All Trips Yearly Scrapbooks, 1942-2001
Series 4: Special Events Scrapbooks, 1942-2013
Series 5: Miscellaneous Scrapbooks, 1942-2001
Series 6: Other Materials, 1930-2013

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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
Girls' clubs
Entertainers
Young women
American travelers
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
Proclamations
Certificates
Programs (documents)
Postcards
Costume dolls
Artifacts (object genre)
Gowns
Quilts
Audiovisual materials

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Related Material

Eloise Milam Papers, AC-087

Lena Milam Papers, AC-018

Single Scanned files from Donors to the Beaumont 175 : 175 years of Beaumont history through the eyes of the Beaumont Enterprise and its readers Collection, AC-661.

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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 Maids Collection, 1930-2013, AC-633, Tyrrell Historical Library, Beaumont, Texas.

Acquisition Information

In 2013 September the Melody Maids gave permission to the Tyrrell Historical Library to begin to scan and digitize all materials in their collection.

Processing Information

Finding aid encoded by Tyrrell Historical Library staff in 2013 October and revised in 2015 April.

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Bibliography

"Melody Maids." Texas State Historical Association.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

 

Series 1:
Eloise Milam Scrapbooks, 1930-2004

These scrapbooks consist of personal correspondence, invitations, greeting cards, photographs, and other memorabilia.
Series Scrapbook
1 1 Eloise Milam, 1930-1935
2 Eloise Milam, 1936-1937
3 Eloise Milam, 1938-1939
4 Eloise Milam, 1941
5 Eloise Milam, 1942-1945
6 Eloise Milam, 1944
7 Eloise Milam, 1949
8 Eloise Milam, 1950
9 Eloise Milam (Volume 1), 1951
10 Eloise Milam (Volume 2), 1951
11 Eloise Milam, 1952
12 Eloise Milam, 1953
13 Eloise Milam, 1954
14 Eloise Milam, 1955
15 Eloise Milam, 1956
16 Eloise Milam, 1957
17 Eloise Milam, 1958-1959
18 Eloise Milam, 1960
19 Eloise Milam, 1961
20 Eloise Milam, 1962
21 Eloise Milam, 1963
22 Eloise Milam, 1964
23 Eloise Milam, 1965
24 Eloise Milam, 1966
25 Eloise Milam, 1967
26 Eloise Milam (Volume 1), 1968
27 Eloise Milam (Volume 2), 1968
28 Eloise Milam (Volume 1), 1992
29 Eloise Milam (Volume 2), 1992
30 Eloise Milam (Volume 1), 1996
31 Eloise Milam, 2004
32 Eloise Milam and Melody Maids, 1942-1992
33 Eloise Milam and Melody Maids Compilation, no date

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Series 2:
Special Yearly Trip Scrapbooks, 1945-1967

These scrapbooks document the special yearly trip that was taken by the Melody Maids. Many of these trips included foreign and domestic travel. The foreign travel included places such as the Caribbean, Europe, the Far East and also to the Arctic region. In the United States they traveled mainly to the East and West Coast.
Series Scrapbook
2 1 Trip to Austin, Texas, 1945
2 Introduction to San Francisco, California, 1947
3 Lions to San Francisco, California, 1947
4 Trip to San Francisco (Let's Go), California, 1947
5 Mexico Trip, 1948
6 Trip to New York City, New York, 1948
7 Trip to New York City, New York, 1951
8 Trip to New York City (WE People, Volume 2), New York, 1948
9 England/Paris Trip, 1952
10 Hawaii Trip, 1953
11 Caribbean Trip, 1954
12 Bermuda/Azores Trip, 1955
13 Europe Trip (Volume 1), 1956
14 Europe Trip (Volume 2), 1956
15 Hawaii Trip, 1958
16 Far East Trip (Volume 1), 1959
17 Far East Trip (Volume 2), 1959
18 Mexico Trip (Volume 1), 1960
19 Mexico Trip (Volume 2), 1960
20 Caribbean and New York Trip, 1961
21 Germany and Italy Trip, 1963
22 New York and Dallas Trip, 1964
23 Far North and California Trip, 1965
24 Nassau and Domican Republic Trip, 1965
25 Hawaii Trip, 1966
26 England/France/California Trip, 1967
27 Far East Trip, 1967

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Series 3:
All Trips Yearly Scrapbooks, 1942-2001

These scrapbooks document their many trips taken to military bases and hospitals in the United States as well as to civic and community organizations across the country.
Series Scrapbook
3 1 Melody Maids Trips, 1942-1944
2 Melody Maids Trips, 1945
3 Melody Maids Trips, 1946-1947
4 Melody Maids Trips, 1948-1949
5 Melody Maids Trips, 1949
6 Melody Maids Trips, 1950
7 Melody Maids Trips, 1951
8 Melody Maids Trips, 1952
9 Melody Maids Trips, 1953
10 Melody Maids Trips, 1954
11 Melody Maids Trips, 1955
12 Melody Maids Trips, 1956
13 Melody Maids Trips, 1957
14 Melody Maids Trips, 1958
15 Melody Maids Trips, 1956-1957
16 Melody Maids Trips, 1957-1958
17 Melody Maids Trips, 1959
18 Melody Maids Trips, 1960
19 Melody Maids Trips (Volume 1), 1961
20 Melody Maids Trips (Volume 2), 1961
21 Melody Maids Trips, 1962
22 Melody Maids Trips, 1963
23 Melody Maids Trips, 1964
24 Melody Maids Trips, 1965
25 Melody Maids Trips, 1968
26 Melody Maids Trips, 1988
27 Melody Maids Trips, 1990
28 Melody Maids Trips (Volume 1), 1993
29 Melody Maids Trips (Volume 2), 1993
30 Melody Maids Trips, 1994
31 Melody Maids Trips, 1995
32 Melody Maids Trips, 1998
33 Melody Maids Trips, 1999
34 Melody Maids Trips, 2001
35 Melody Maids Trips (Volume 2), 1956-1957

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Series 4:
Special Events Scrapbooks, 1952-2006

These scrapbooks consist of significant yearly celebrations involving the Melody Maids and Eloise Milam.
Series Scrapbook
4 1 Eloise Milam Birthday, 1988
2 Eloise Milam Birthday, 1991
3 Eloise Milam Birthday, 1994
4 Eloise Milam Birthday/Reunion, 1996
5 Eloise Milam Birthday (Volume 1), 1997
6 Eloise Milam Birthday (Volume 2), 1997
7 Eloise Milam Birthday and Christmas, 1999
8 Eloise Milam Birthday, 2000
9 Eloise Milam Birthday, 2001
10 Eloise Milam Birthday, 2002
11 Eloise Milam Birthday, 2003
12 Eloise Milam Birthday and Reunion, 2005
13 Eloise Milam Birthday Reunion, 2006
14 Eloise Milam and Melody Maids, 1942-1997
15 Eloise Milam Reunion, 1975
16 Melody Maids Reunion, 1984
17 Melody Maids Reunion, 1985
18 Melody Maids Reunion, 1986
19 Melody Maids Reunion, 1987
20 Melody Maids Reunion, 1988
21 Melody Maids Reunion (Volume 1), 1989
22 Melody Maids Reunion (Volume 2), 1989
23 Melody Maids Reunion (Volume 1), 1990
24 Melody Maids Reunion (Volume 2), 1990
25 Melody Maids Reunion, 1991
26 Melody Maids Reunion, 1993
27 Melody Maids Reunion, 1994
28 Melody Maids Reunion, 1995
29 Melody Maids Reunion, 1997
30 Melody Maids Reunion--Tyrrell Library, 1999
31 Melody Maids Reunion (Volume 1), 2000
32 Melody Maids Reunion (Volume 2), 2000
33 Melody Maids Reunion (Volume 3), 2000
34 Melody Maids Reunion, 2001
35 Melody Maids Reunion (Volume 1), 2002
36 Melody Maids Reunion (Volume 2), 2002
37 Melody Maids Reunion (Volume 3), 2002
38 Melody Maids Reunion (Volume 1), 2003
39 Melody Maids Reunion (Volume 2), 2003
40 Melody Maids Reunion (Volume 1), 2004
41 Melody Maids Reunion (Volume 2), 2004
42 Melody Maids Reunion (Volume 1), 2005
43 Melody Maids Reunion (Volume 2), 2005
44 Melody Maids Reunion, 2006
45 Melody Maids Reunion, 2013
46 Melody Maids Christmas, 1952
47 Melody Maids Christmas/Northeast Air Command/U.S., 1956
48 Melody Maids Christmas, 1987
49 Melody Maids Christmas, 1991
50 Melody Maids Christmas, 1992
51 Melody Maids Christmas, 1993
52 Melody Maids Christmas, 1994
53 Melody Maids Christmas, 1995
54 Melody Maids Christmas, 1996
55 Melody Maids Christmas, 1997
56 Melody Maids Christmas, 2000
57 Melody Maids Christmas, 2001
58 Melody Maids Christmas, 2002
59 Melody Maids Christmas, 2003
60 Melody Maids Christmas, 2004
61 Melody Maids Christmas, 2006

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Series 5:
Miscellaneous Scrapbooks, 1942-2001

These scrapbooks consist of a variety of unique activities and concerns in which the Melody Maids were involved.
Series Scrapbook
5 1 Melody Maids Costumes, 1942-1972
2 Aloha--Melody Maids
3 Melody Maids Spindletop, 1951
4 Melody Maids Spindletop, 2001
5 Fort Hood, 1952
6 Tender Moments (Volumes 1-2)
7 History of Eloise Milam and Her Melody Maids
8 Eloise Milam Medical Operation, 2003
9 Northeast Air Command, 1955
10 Northeast Air Command, 1956
11 Melody Maids 25 Year Celebration, 1967
12 Melody Maids 50 Year Celebration, 1992
13 Pathfinders and Hall of Fame, 1986
14 Melody Maids Heart Gala, 1987
15 Beaumont Builders, 1987
16 Musicians Individuals (A-K)
17 Musicians Individuals (L-R)
18 Musicians Individuals (S-Z)
19 Musicians and Music Lovers
20 The Quilt
21 The Dream
22 Eloise Milam and the Melody Maids Living Museum
23 Nominations
24 Newsletters (Volume 1)
25 Newsletters (Volume 2)
26 Donations--Memorial Contributions (Volume 1)
27 Donations--Memorials Contributions (Volume 2)
28 Donations--Memorials Contributions (Volume 3)
29 Donations--Memorials Contributions (Volume 4)
30 Eloise Milam and the Melody Maids, 1942-1997
31 Local Camera Club, 1950's
32 Sis Pipes Hammond Scrapbook
33 Sis Frankel Scrpabook (Volume 1)
34 Sis Frankel Scrpabook (Volume 2)
35 Melody Makers
36 Bonnie Eloise Rush Milam
37 National Society of Colonia Dames, 17th Century
38 The Bible of the Melody Maids
39 Lena Milam Photograph Album

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Series 6:
Other Materials, 1930-2013

This consists of a wide assortment of materials that include dolls, figurines, costumes, paintings and artificats.
Series Item
6 1 160 costume dolls
2 53 figurines
3 Four small collages including: one of the Milam family, one featuring Mason Thomas (Buba) Milam, one featuring Bonnie Eloise Rush Milam, and one featuring Marion Joe (Bucky) Milam
4 Two large wall-sized collages
5 Eight poster-sized collages
6 20 framed photographs
7 One painted portrait of Eloise Milam
8 50 honorary citations, awards and letters
9 Nine evening gowns
10 One cowgirl costume with boots
11 Three kimonos
12 Nine miscellaneous garments
13 Six pairs of shoes (including three dresses, two Japanese sandals and one pair of clogs)
14 Audiovisual material (including videotapes, cassettes and audio tape reels)
15 Sheet music
16 Three magazine and newspaper articles on display posters. They are titled "Heart Association Honors Milam's Voice and Community" from the Beaumont Enterprise newspaper; "An Open Heart: After Surgery, Milam Ready to Resume Songs" from the Beaumont Enterprise newspaper; and "Texas at the Beach" from the Hawaii Weekly
17 One stained glass window panel
18 Seven Spindletop artifacts
19 Two Christmas tree artifacts
20 A small number of miscellaneous artifacts collected during the travels of the Melody Maids (e.g., mugs, bowls, a piece of the Berlin Wall, etc.)
21 Two quilts
22 One handwritten Trip Journal composed by Marilyn dee Beckner
23 An assortment of loose materials related to Melody Maids activities (15-20 files)
24 Postcards of travels
25 Melody Maids Souvenir Programs, 1948-1967

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