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Beattie, John W. (John Walter), 1885-1962



  • Existence: 1885 - 1962


John Walter Beattie was born in Norwalk, Ohio, on November 26, 1885, the son of Mr. and Mrs. A. M. Beattie. Mr. Beattie was an attorney. Walter, as his family called him, had two sisters, Blanche and Anna Belle (who survived him), and two brothers, Homer (died ca. Dec. 19, 1950) and Arthur J. (who was killed during World War T on October 15, 1918, and posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross). Beattie served as the Dean of the School of Music at Northwestern from 1934 until his retirement in 1951. He died in Evanston in 1962.

Beattie received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classical Languages from Denison University in 1907, and a Master of Arts degree in Education from Columbia University in 1923. He was active in a variety of organizations at Denison, including the glee club, college band, and the Calliopean Literary Society. In his senior year Beattie was leader of the glee club, chairman of the fall campaign for the YMCA, and manager of the varsity foot-ball team.

After his graduation from Denison, Beattie was appointed supervisor of music for the public schools of Xenia, Ohio. He held this position until 1911 when he moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, as a teacher of music at the Central High School. From 1912 to 1924 Beattie served as supervisor of music for the public schools of Grand Rapids. While in this position he promoted the cause of music in an imaginative and effective manner. In 1924 Beattie was appointed the State Supervisor of Music and he then moved to Lansing. He held this position for one year, and he was then appointed Professor of Public School Music at Northwestern in 1925. When Carl M. Beecher resigned as Dean of the School of Music Beattie succeeded him in 1934, first as Acting Dean and then as Dean. Beattie held both his academic and administrative ranks until his retirement in 1951. He also served as placement director from 1925 to 1950 and as Director of the Summer Session from 1926. From 1925 to 1950 Beattie was supervisor of music education in the elementary schools of Evanston.

Beattie's major research interests included the fields of music education, folk songs, and South American music. These have been reflected in his writing and editorial activities. He was co-author of Music in Junior High School, 1930; Music of Many Lands and Peoples, 1932; Play and Sing Books One and Two, 1935; and Music Highways and Byways, 1936. Beattie was editor of the popular Golden Book of Favorite Songs, 1923, and of the Gray Book of Favorite Songs, 1924. His most important work was the 10-volume American Singer series, 1944.

Traveling also occupied a substantial portion of Beattie's life. In 1911 he made his first trip abroad visiting Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. Three years later he went to Morocco, Spain, and France, and from 1917 to 1919 he was in the YMCA service in France. In 1930 he and Mrs. Beattie toured France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Holland, and in 1932 they journeyed in Great Britain. Two years later they went to the Scandinavian countries. In 1941 Beatty and Louis Woodson Curtis represented the Pan American Union on a two-month tour of seven South American countries where they investigated several aspects of music education and the possibilities for cooperation between these countries and the United States. In 1954 and 1955 Beattie and his second wife traveled through Spain and Portugal and the Mediterranean area.

Beattie received many honors during his long and distinguished career. In 1921 he was elected President of the Music Supervisors' National Conference. Denison University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Music degree in 1934. In 1949 Beattie was the speaker at a special summer convocation at which Northwestern awarded honorary degrees to Heifetz, Piatigorsky, and Rubinstein. The following year the Northwestern University Alumni Association recognized his long and productive efforts by granting him an honorary life membership.

On December 29, 1914, Beattie married Maude Hayes Thayer who died in April, 1950. In 1952 Beattie married Clara Kanne Blondoit. No children were born of these marriages. Beattie died on November 23, 1962, and his wife Clara died two days later.

Beattie's major contributions were in the academic upgrading of the School of Music and the increased emphasis on college education in music throughout the country. He did much to make the music, especially the folk songs, of Latin America widely known.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

John Walter Beattie (1885-1962) Papers

Identifier: 19/1/2

John Walter Beattie served as the Dean of the School of Music at Northwestern from 1934 until his retirement in 1951. The John Walter Beattie Papers are arranged in five main categories: biographical material; correspondence; material related to American Singer; a collection of songs and the related correspondence; and his writings. And addition contains correspondence and concert programs accumulated by Beattie.

Dates: 1907-1962