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Charles S. Benson Papers, 1930s-1960s
- Charles S. Benson Papers
- 1930s-1960s (inclusive)19301970
- 3.25 linear feet of shelf space, (3 boxes)
- Collection Number
- Cage 871 (collection)
- 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.
Washington State University Libraries' Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC)
Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
Terrell Library Suite 12
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open and available for research use.
Historical NoteReturn to Top
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.
Content DescriptionReturn to Top
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.
Use of the CollectionReturn to Top
Copyright restrictions may apply.
[Item Description] Charles S. Benson papers, circa 1930s-1960s
Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.
Administrative InformationReturn to Top
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.
Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top
Series 1: Personal papers, circa 1800s-1970sReturn to Top
Diaries (26 items) and day planners (3 items).
Biographical sketch of Charles Benson by Larry Persons.
Legal and estate documents.
Letters and sketches.
Photographs: Lolo Hot Springs.
Series 2: Music papersReturn to Top
Student recital programs.
Compositions: "A Soldier's Sweetheart."
Compositions: "Rose Carnival March."
Compositions: "Midwinter Carnival March."
Realia: metal Chas. S. Benson studio sign.