A. R. McAllister
JTHS Band Director
1913 - 1944


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In 1913, A.R. McAllister, a manual arts instructor who played the cornet, was asked to organize a band for Joliet Township High School. Mr. McAllister, who grew up on a farm in Jackson Township, bought a cornet at age 14 with profits he earned from selling his pig at the Will County Fair. He studied music under James H. Ward, director of Ward's Boy Band in Joliet. Prior to directing the JT band, McAllister organized the Trinity Girl's Band in 1905 and performed with local ensembles, including the Dellwood Park Band and Joliet Steelworkers Industrial Band.

Under Mr. McAllister's leadership, the band won state championships from 1924-26 and national championships from 1926-28. In their hometown, the band received permanent possession of the trophy in 1928 and was praised by John Philip Sousa (see photo below). The band was exempt to play at the 1929 contest in Denver, but performed as an exhibition group. In 1931, the band regained the national title.

In 1936, McAllister lead his young musicians through a week of nine performances at Radio City Music Hall where the band performed an Easter show with the Rockettes, playing for a total of 160,000 people. The band played for draftees, and was known as "the minute men" because they were always ready - day or night to perform for soldiers traveling through Joliet.

Mr. McAllister became a nationally recognized leader of the school band movement and was known as "the father of the high school band program." McAllister helped organize the National School Band Association in 1926. He was elected vice-president the same year before serving as president for 14 years. On Sept. 30, 1944, McAllister died at age 63.


A. R. McAllister and John Philip Sousa
1928 - Joliet Union Station
(Photo contributed by Scott McAllister)

History of the JTHS Bands
under Director A. R. McAllister
(Contents and Links below)

We are pleased to be able to begin our history section with a study written by Dr. Jeff Kluball entitled -

Archie Raymond McAllister
and the Development of the
Joliet Township High School Band

The study was written in August, 1990 and has been scanned from the original pages into PDF format.

Dr. Jeff Kluball is the Associate Professor of Music - Director at Darton College (www.darton.edu)
His contact information is available on the faculty directory - www.darton.edu/fac_staff/directory.php

The JTHSBAA board extends its sincere gratitude to Dr. Kluball for granting permission to post his study.

A. R. McAllister - Find A Grave


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