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Boys Town Collection

Identifier: MSS MUSIC-Boys

Scope and Contents

Dr. Ann Labounsky, Professor of Organ and Scared Music at the Mary Pappert School of Music, was instrumental in placing the Boys Town Collection at Duquesne University. She participated in the Boys Town Summer Workshops where, in 1965, she was assistant to the world renowned organist, Jean Langlais.

Through the combined efforts of many individuals at the University including Dr. Paul Pugliese, University Librarian, the collection was gifted to the Gumberg Library in early 1990. The personal and unique items remain as part of the University Archives. Those texts, scores and AV materials (such as LP records) that were received as part of the collection but not considered archival were integrated into the library's music collection located on the 5th floor of the Gumberg Library. Even though the overall collection is ecumenical in nature it has a strong Roman Catholic emphasis.

Series I includes 3 boxes of Fr. Schmitt's papers, correspondence, and 1 box of books. Series II contains choral sheet music arranged alphabetically by composer. The collection measures 7.5 linear feet.


  • 1919 - 1993
  • Majority of material found within 1955 - 1970

Biographical / Historical

The history of the Boys Town Collection of Scared Music began in 1941 with the arrival of Rev. Francis P. Schmitt to Boys Town. After his training in theology and music at St. Paul's Seminary at the University of Nebraska, his first appointment was serving as a curate to Father Flanagan, found of the Boys' Home in Boys Town, Nebraska. Fr. Schmitt held this appointment for 36 years.

Monsignor Schmitt was born in 1916 in West Point, Nebraska. He grew up listening to Fr. Flanaga's Sunday mroning radio braodcasts and had seen the traveling Father Flanagan's Boys Town Home Show so he was familiar with the group. His post-secondary education began at St. Lawrence College in Wisconsin after which he earned a teacher's certificate from the University of Nebraska.

After his ordination he was sent to Boys Town to fulfill pastoral and administrative duties. In addition, when both the organist and the choir master went on vacation, Fr. Schmitt would assume their responsibilities. These interim duties actually worked in his favor. Eventually, Fr. Schmitt's interim position became permanent. The choir grew from 20 struggling voices to 80 voices for several choirs. The premiere choir toured all over the United States during Fr. Schmitt's 34-year tenure. There were telecasts of Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, as well as local and world-wide radio broadcasts. It was the primary intention of the choir to enchance the worship at Boys Town, however the group's influence reached to untold numbers of people.

Msgr. Schmitt received an honorary degree from the University of Nebraska in 1968. He authored the book Church Music Transgressed (1977, Seabury Press) and was the editor of Caecilia, a sacred music journal which was the forerunner of today's Sacred Music journal. He also taught courses in Gregorian chant at Duquesne in 1981 and 1982, and a course on liturgy called "Formative Aspects of Worship" in 1982.


7.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Processing Information

Processed by Sara Lauren Purifoy in November of 2014. Completed by Melodie Frankovitch September 2015.
The Boys Town Collection
An inventory of personal papers, music, letters, and books of Reverend Francis P. Schmitt. An inventory of papers, sheet music, scores and books of the Nebraskan Boys Town Choir.
Sara Lauren Purifoy, updated by Melodie Frankovitch
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Archival Music Collections Repository