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The Accordion Novelty Company: the Chautauqua archives of the University of Iowa

March 29, 2014

Four women with accordions in a vintage brochure


The Accordion Novelty Company is not just a funny t-shirt somebody is selling online (They don’t cite their source, so why should we link to them?)

The University of Iowa’s digital archive on “Travelling Culture – Circuit Chautaqua in the Twentieth Century” includes not just this cover image, but a splendid little three-fold booklet promoting an actual historical (ca. 1920s-30s) group of accordion-playin’ women: The Accordion Novelty Company!  How cool is that?The Accordion Novelty Company, pg 2

Thanks University of Iowa!

The collection has a ton of accordion content if you search for it. Looking around, I’m not sure if the Harp Novelty Company from the 1920s is the same woman, but I’d go see them too.

The Chautaqua circuit was kind of like vaudeville, with entertainers traveling from town around the country, but had more of an educational uplift and social change element.  This is an amazing collection of pamphlets and fliers and I’m so happy it’s available – the Library of Congress agrees.

Accordion Novelty Company, pg 3

 THE irresistible spirit of youth rules the entertainment of The Accordion Novelty Company. Such infectious gayety, such “zip” and “pep” abound that audiences are quickly tuned in on an evening of genuine merriment. “A Street Scene in Naples” is the title of one of the popular numbers presented. “Miss Naples” and her three picturesque comrades are vividly portrayed. In their bright, charming costumes they present a delightful bit of old-world color. With a touch of the gamin in their inimitable performance, the young entertainers go rollicking through this unique musical sketch. Four girls make up The Accordion Novelty Company—popular entertainers who have made an outstanding “hit” in the musical-entertainment field. The most interesting feature, from a musical standpoint, is the use of four accordions. Truly beautiful and novel music is attained with this combination. Cello, violin and piano are also used, and harmony singing adds attractive variety.

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