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Hubert W. Lamb Collection

Identifier: 3P-Lamb

Scope and Contents

This collection documents Hubert Lamb's work as a composer and professor of music. The items date from 1923-1983. The collection consists primarily of musical compositions (1923-1967), but also includes correspondence (1930-1983), photographs taken by Lamb (undated), and commemorations of Lamb's career.


  • 1923-1983


Conditions Governing Access

As per the letter of donation, only the music is to be digitized and published or otherwise circulated. Correspondence, photographs, and other materials are only to be studied on site. Small portions of these letters may be quoted in scholarly articles; photos may be viewed on site but not digitized or placed on the Web.

Biographical / Historical

Hubert Weldon Lamb was born in Walpole, New Hampshire, on June 29, 1909. He graduated from Harvard University in 1930 and on New Year’s Day, 1931, he married Lydia Cazneau Baker (Radcliffe, Class of 1929) in Paris. Together, they had three children: Margaret, William, and Lucy.

Lamb taught at the Longy School (1934-56) and the Belmont Hill School (1932-35) and joined the faculty of Wellesley’s Music Department in 1935. He was named Hamilton C. Macdougall Professor of Music in 1950 and remained in that position until his retirement in July 1974.

Among his many awards were the Francis Boott Prize in Musical Composition from Harvard (1930); a John Knowles Paine fellowship from Harvard, under which he studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris (1930-1932); a Guggenheim fellowship in composition (1948); and an honorary Doctor of Music from the New England Conservatory (1963).

His musical compositions were many and varied: in 1944-45, Carl Weinrich performed Lamb’s Toccata for organ on a six-city tour of the US; in 1951, Lamb conducted the Wellesley College Choir in the first full performance of his Six Scenes from the Protevangelion; in 1952, Ralph Kirkpatrick featured in a performance of Concerto da Camera; and in 1966-67, he completed Suite for Four Strings, which had been commissioned by the Harvard Musical Association. In her book celebrating the centennial of Wellesley College, Jean Glasscock singled out Lamb as a faculty member and “creative artist” whose choral, orchestral, and chamber works were played at Wellesley and beyond.

In addition to musical compositions, he wrote analyses of contemporary music, including “High Fidelity – to What?” (Harpers, 1960), “Music in the Age of Zak” (Harpers, 1962), and “The Avant-Gardist” (Music Journal, 1963), the latter of which was based on the Commencement address he delivered at the New England Conservatory that same year.

At Wellesley, he gave an Honor’s Day speech on March 15, 1962, entitled “Some reflections on the nature of music and on the contemporary musical scene,” in which he offered insight into contemporary music. Lamb’s talk was also notable for the example of English prose he chose to include: the entirely fictitious account of the Salt Pit Massacre, his discussion of which left the audience wondering because the entire episode was one Lamb himself concocted.

In addition to his teaching duties at Wellesley, Lamb was actively involved in College administration and with Academic Council. He worked closely with architect Paul Rudolph on the design of the Jewett Arts Center, a modernist building whose structure met the challenge of having to serve the needs of the Art, Music, and Theatre Departments. For a 1956 Alumnae Magazine piece, “What the Jewett Arts Center Will Mean to Us,” Lamb contributed his thoughts on behalf of the Music Department. In recognition of his commitment to the College and the appreciation awarded to him by its graduates, Lamb was made an honorary member of the Wellesley College Alumnae Association.

His accomplishments extended beyond the world of music. He listed membership in the American Meteorological Society on a faculty questionnaire. In addition, Lamb was an amateur photographer and practiced that art as a Civilian Defense Photographer in 1942-1943, and by creating portraits of many of his colleagues in the music world. He was a skilled carpenter and designed and built a family summer cottage on Little Deer Isle, Maine. Upon retiring from Wellesley in 1974, Hubert and Lydia Lamb moved to a house, with long views, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where they constructed and finished numerous bookshelves, a darkroom, and installed cork flooring. They continued to enjoy summers in Maine, where, on July 27, 1987, Hubert Lamb passed away.


5.96 Cubic Feet (-- 16 oversize boxes: 15 (16.5 x 13.25 x 3 inches); 1(13.5 x 11 x 3 inches))

Language of Materials



This collection consists primarily of materials created and collected by Hubert Weldon Lamb, Professor of Music at Wellesley College from 1935-1974. It includes correspondence, photographs, commemorations and addresses, and a significant collection of musical compositions.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of William Palfrey Lamb, Margaret Weldon Lamb (Class of 1957), and Lucy Lamb Baker, July 2016.

Processing Information

Processed by M.K.K. Yearl, 2016-2017.


Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Wellesley College Archives Repository