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Georgia Tech Songs Collection

 Collection
Identifier: UA318

Abstract

This collection consists of Georgia Tech songs, marches, and cheers, including the Alma Mater,Rambling Wreck,Up With the White and Gold, three renditions of Yellow Jacket Girl, and other lesser-known music written in honor of Tech.

Dates

  • 1900-1953

Creator

General Physical Description note

(one sheet music box)

Restrictions: Access

None.

Restrictions: Use

Some of the songs in the collection remain under copyright and therefore fall under all applicable restrictions on use (including duplication) for copyrighted materials.

Extent

1.3 Linear Feet

Scope and Contents

This collection contains several folders with various versions of Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech and three of Alma Mater. The versions of Rambling Wreck include several copies of a postcard-sized lyric sheet, a printed version with a cartoon as cover art, and a handwritten piano-vocal manuscript (possibly in Frank Roman's own hand). A copy of the 1911 version of Rambling Wreck, with a copyright seal, adds to the richness of the collection. A handwritten version of Alma Mater is also included.

The remaining folders contain two published versions of Up With the White and Gold, lyrics for songs and cheers (Song No. 1 and Song No. 2), single copies of each of the three versions of Yellow Jacket Girl (Gal), and two different Georgia Tech marches from the early years of the twentieth century. The Georgia Tech March and Two-Step by Frances Brownie and Winnifred Huson has a cover picture of a group of Tech students from 1905, to whom the song is dedicated. The earlier of the two marches features pictures of W.E. Klein, J.W. Rucker, Aaron French, and a photo of the Shops, Textile, and Academic Buildings of Tech as cover art.

Song No. 1 and Song No. 2 make up one side of a two-sided lyric sheet containing traditional cheers and yells for Georgia Tech sports. Also included is an identification card for L.A. Emerson, EE 1906, a list of fraternities, and several chants for game time. Lyman Hall was president, which provides a general time that the sheet could have been created. This artifact of early Tech history enhances this already diverse collection.

History of Georgia Tech Songs and Music

By far the most famous of the pieces of music written in honor of Georgia Tech is Rambling Wreck, otherwise known as Ramblin' Wreck or Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech. The lyrics to this song first appeared in the 1908 Blueprint, the Georgia Tech yearbook. Billy Walthall, a member of the first four-year graduating class, is credited with the lyrics in some sources; according to a 1954 article in Sports Illustrated, the song was written in about 1893 by a Tech football player on his way to an Auburn game. The phrase "rambling wreck" itself may date from as early as the 1880s, according to an oral history interview by Harold D. Cutter. At first, the phrase may have been used in reference to the students at Georgia Tech, but in modern times it also refers to a Model "T" Ford decked out in the school colors, which makes appearances at home football games.

Whatever its origins, Rambling Wreck, which is sung to the Scottish tune Son of a Gambolier, quickly became an established Tech tradition. In 1912 Mike Greenblatt, Georgia Tech's first professional bandleader, made a band arrangement and score of Rambling Wreck. A few years later Frank "Wop" Roman, who became the Tech band director in 1914, adapted Greenblatt's version, adding several trumpet flourishes. Roman copyrighted the song in 1919. The Edwin H. Morris and Company, which was later acquired by MPL Communications, obtained a copyright to Roman's version of Rambling Wreck from 1931. However, a law firm commissioned by Georgia Tech in 1984 concluded that, while there were copyrighted versions of the song, the version used by the school is not copyrighted.

The fame of the Rambling Wreck song spread to such proportions that in 1959 it was sung by Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev at their historic meeting in Moscow. Khrushchev had been introduced to the song through a performance of it on The Ed Sullivan Show.Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech has had many other notable moments in its history, including performances in movies such as The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit and The High and the Mighty. Claims have been made that commanding officers crossing the English Channel on the morning of D-Day led their men in the song. It has also been reported to be the first school song played in space.

In addition to the arrangement of Rambling Wreck, Frank Roman is also credited with two other famous Tech songs dating from the 1920s, the Alma Mater (published in 1923) and Up with the White and Gold (first published in 1919). Iver Granath, a member of the Class of 1923, collaborated with Frank Roman on the lyrics to Alma Mater. The lyrics and music to an earlier Georgia Tech Alma Mater, also by Frank Roman, appeared in the 1915 Blueprint, but it is the 1923 version that is sung most often today.

Iver Granath also composed another Tech song titled Yellow Jacket Gal while he was a student. Another song of a similar title by another Tech graduate, Nicholas Chotas (1932, Architecture), was also written in about 1929. A third song titled My Yellow Jacket Girl, with words credited to Harold Atteridge and music to Jean Schwartz, was performed in the 1913 Broadway musical The Honeymoon Express at the Winter Garden Theatre. The show ran for 156 performances.

Among the many lesser-known pieces of music written in honor of Georgia Tech are the 1905 Georgia Tech March and Two-Step written by Frances Brownie and Winnifred Huson, and the 1900 Georgia Tech Grand March by Charles Astin. Numerous other songs and cheers, including many with lyrics denouncing Georgia Tech's rival, the University of Georgia, are traditionally sung at football and basketball games.

In 1925 the Columbia Gramophone Company released a 78 rpm recording of Ramblin' Wreck with Up With the White and Gold as an introduction. One side of the recording contained an instrumental version played by the Georgia Tech Band; a vocal version by the Yellow Jacket Four was recorded on the reverse. With this recording Georgia Tech became one of the first colleges in the South to have its songs commercially recorded. Since then the Georgia Tech Band and Glee Club have made several other recordings.

Arrangement

The music and correspondence are arranged alphabetically by title.

Other Finding Aids

A print copy of this finding aid is available in the Georgia Tech Archives reading room.

Provenance

Collection created from various donations (accessions 1988.0503, 2001.150, 2003.007, 2004.032).

General Physical Description note

(one sheet music box)

General note

This collection was originally processed in 2005 as MS053. The collection was reprocessed as UA318, with additions and updates, in April 2007.

Processing Information

Valerie A. Ellis and Christine de Catanzaro processed these papers in October 2005 (additions and revisions by Sheldon Smith, April 2007).
Title
Inventory of the Georgia Tech Songs Collection, 1900-1953
Subtitle
UA318
Status
completed
Author
Valerie A. Ellis and Christine de Catanzaro
Date
Copyright 2005.
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
Finding aid is written in English.

Revision Statements

  • April 2007, June 2011: : Additional sheet music and correspondence added to the collection by Sheldon Smith and Christine de Catanzaro.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives, Library, Georgia Institute of Technology Repository

Contact:
Library
Georgia Institute of Technology
266 4th Street, NW
Atlanta 30332-0900 USA
404-894-4586