1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

    R.I.H.S. home page

 Ruth E. Tripp Papers

 Pianist and composer, of Cranston, R.I.

 Papers, 1930-1963

 Size: 0.25 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 1102

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, July 2002

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Ruth Erskine Tripp was born on December 26 1897 to Everett E. and Martha (Erskine) Tripp of Dighton, Mass. The family moved to Central Falls, R.I. when she was six years old. She spent most of her life involved with music as a composer, teacher, and critic. By 1920, she was a piano teacher in Central Falls. At least one of her compositions was published: "Rhode Island Campaign Song," published by the Women's Republican Club in 1928. Her other compositions were often performed locally. She served as supervisor of the WPA Federal Music Project in Rhode Island from 1940 to 1943. She served as an associate professor of music at the University of Rhode Island, and later taught music appreciation at Bryant College. She was the Providence Journal's music critic for twenty-seven years. She served as president of both the Providence Plantations Club, and the Rhode Island Federation of Music Clubs. She also served as organist for many Rhode Island churches.

            Tripp never married or had children. She resided with her parents in Central Falls through about 1940, then lived in Providence through the early 1960s, moved to Cranston in her later years, and died in May of 1971. Ruth Erskine Tripp should not be confused with Ruth (Enders) Tripp, a 1950s children's television personality who was born in 1920.


Cranston directories, 1960-1970

Diman, Andrea, "Ruth Tripp: A Life Devoted to the Culture and Art of Music in Rhode Island," 1996 student paper, University of Rhode Island (citation seen on Internet)

Obituary, Providence Journal, May 21 1971, page 26

Pawtucket-Central Falls directories, 1930-1940

Providence directories, 1943-1960

Randall, George L. Tripp Genealogy: Descendants of James, Son of John Tripp, 190. New Bedford, Mass.: Vining Press, 1924.

Social Security Death Index

1920 U.S. Census, Rhode Island E.D. 74, page 6

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Scope and content:

            This collection includes eleven major musical pieces, ranging from scored variety shows to a string quartet composition. Tripp wrote the music for all pieces, but usually relied on a co-writer or for Biblical texts for her lyrical content. Grace M. Sherwood, the State Librarian, was her lyrical collaborator on two works. The collection also includes a short story written by Tripp, song fragments, and programs from some of her performances.

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            These papers were purchased in 2002 from David Karbonik.

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Processing note:

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Folder 1. "Bergerette Moderne: Miniature for Solo Flute and Strings"

            Full score for flute, two violins, viola, cello and bass.

            Written for Hermann Storti and the Providence Federal Orchestra, 1939

Folder 2. "In the Days of Herod the King"

            Full score for trio of women's voice

            Text freely adapted from Matthew II: 1-11

            Dedicated to Mary Kimball Hail, undated

Folder 3. "In the Same Country"

            Several arrangements for various instrumentation.

            Text from Luke II: 8-14

            Undated; one copy stamped "Property of the WPA."

            Includes program for performance on the 1945 Christmas program at the Chaminade Club


Folder 4. "The Jackknife"

            Short story, 8 typescript pages, undated

Folder 5. "The Rabbit's Foot (A Musical Extravaganza)"

            Lyrics by Grace Sherwood, music by Ruth Tripp

            Performed at the Providence Plantations Club, November 28 and 29, 1932

Contents include the program with typescript draft, and either words or music for most of the eighteen songs in the show. The show's plot involved pirates, bootleggers, and Russian dancers. The theme song, "Rabbit's Foot Blues," was written for a female character named Honey Dew Melon Jones, a racial caricature in the minstrel tradition.


Folder 6. "The Wedding of Miss Mary Krissmass and Mr. Sandy Claws"

            Lyrics by Grace Sherwood, music by Ruth Tripp

            Performed at the Providence Plantations Club, date unknown

            Contents include the program, and the words and music to five of the show's ten songs.

Folder 7. Miscellaneous:

            "A Christmas Folk-Song," with words by Lizette Woodworth Reese, undated

            "Earth-Bread", undated

            "Land Grant: A Free Choral Adaptation of Portions of the Morrill Act of 1862", 1962

            "Ostrich," with words by Charles Malam, undated

            "The Rivals," words by James Stephens, written for Gordon School commencement, 1948

            "The Solitary Place Shall Be Glad," text from Isaiah 35:1-2-10, undated, performed 1950

Program for "Songs of the Sea," presented at the Chaminade Club, 1930, including three songs written by Sherwood and Tripp.

            Six undated poem/song fragments

            Photocopy of Providence Journal obituary, May 21, 1971

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Christmas plays

Composers - Rhode Island

Fiction - Women authors

"Land Grant: A Free Choral Adaptation of Portions of the Morrill Act of 1862"

Minstrel shows

Music - Rhode Island - 20th century

Providence Federal Orchestra

Providence Plantations Club

Sacred vocal music - Rhode Island

Sherwood, Grace M., 1883-1979

Women composers - Rhode Island

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