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Ella Scoble Opperman Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 1969-196

Scope and Contents

The Ella Scoble Opperman Papers document the personal and professional life of this accomplished musician and first Dean of the Florida State College for Women (FSCW) School of Music. The collection includes correspondence, articles, speech materials, notebooks, daybooks, music record books, memorabilia, photographs, biographical material. In addition, there are certificates and diplomas received by her sister, Katie Marie Opperman, correspondence from Ella Opperman to her parents, and correspondence between other Opperman family members. Subjects covered include the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Wesleyan Female College, the pianoforte, Cincinnati Wesleyan College, teacher certification, and the dedication of Opperman Music Hall on the Florida State University campus. Correspondents include Ernest Jedliczka, Felix Alexandre Guilmant, Moritz Moszkowski, and Percy Grainger, a noted composer and pianist.

The collection is significant to scholars studying 19th and 20th Century piano and organ music and musicians. It is also a significant resource for those studying the history of music education in colleges and universities during the 20th Century and the evolution of the FSCW School of Music.


  • created: 1719-1963
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1900-1963

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to all researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

To request permission to quote, publish, broadcast or otherwise reproduce from the archives, please contact Heritage & University Archives, Florida State University Libraries, Tallahassee, Florida. Researchers must obtain separate permission from the copyright holders of material held within University Archives collections for which the institution does not hold copyright.

Biographical or Historical Information

Ella Scoble Opperman, Dean of the Florida State College for Women (FSCW) School of Music, was born October 27, 1873 in New Haven, Ohio. Her parents were Frederic Opperman, born in France, and Mary Scoble, born in Cincinnati, Ohio of English parents. Opperman began the study of piano at the age of five under her aunt, Laura H. Scoble, who was her teacher until she entered college. An accomplished pupil, she made her first public appearance as a pianist at the age of eight when she played at the Seymour, Indiana, opera house. A graduate of Aurora, Indiana High School, she received her diploma in piano and A.B. degree from Wesleyan College in Cincinnati at the age of 16. Later she received an artist diploma in piano and the Master of Music degree from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. She studied in Berlin in 1900-1901 as a private piano pupil of the Russian pianist-teacher Ernest Jedliczka. From 1907-1909, she studied piano in Paris with classical music composer Moritz Moszkowski and organ with Felix Alexandre Guilmant. After returning to this country in 1909, she studied in master classes conducted by Leopold Godowsky, Rudolph Ganz, Isador Phillip, and Guy Maier. She studied organ under Harold Gleason at the Eastman School of Music. In addition, she gave several piano and organ recitals in Indiana and at the Cincinnati Conservatory, from which she received an honorary Doctor of Pedagogy degree in 1943.

Prior to her appointment at FSCW, Opperman taught two years at the Birmingham (Ohio) Seminary, one year at Knickerbocker Hall, in Indianapolis, and five years at Wesleyan College, in Macon, Georgia, where the president credited her with developing advanced curriculum standards. Opperman was appointed director of the FSCW School of Music in 1911, which at that time had a teaching faculty of six, and became its first dean in 1920, a post she held until her retirement in 1944. That year, she was named Dean Emeritus. The College became Florida State University (FSU) three years later. After her retirement, she wrote the Annals of the School of Music.

Opperman held several national offices in organizations related to her field. In 1961 she was honored at the golden anniversary concert of the FSU Woman's Glee Club, a 60-member choral group which she was instrumental in organizing.

Under Opperman's direction, the FSU School of Music instituted courses leading to the Bachelor's degree in piano, voice, organ, violoncello, composition, and public school music. In 1930, the School of Music became a member of the National Association of Schools of Music, only a few years after the organization was founded, and it was the first state school in the South to be accepted and accredited by the National Association. Opperman Music Hall, located on the FSU campus, was named for her. In that hall is a painting of Dean Opperman by Marie Goth, a member of one of the artist colonies in Brown County, Indiana, who is known for her paintings of General Douglas MacArthur, James Whitcomb Riley, and others.

Opperman died in Tallahassee, Florida on March 11, 1969. Her biography has appeared in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in American Education, Who's Who in Florida, Who's Who in Music, Who's Who Among Women, Principal Women of America, American Women, and the Biographical Encyclopedia.


4.48 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Correspondence, articles, speech material, notebooks, daybooks, music record books, photographs, memorabilia, and legal records documenting the personal and professional life of Ella Scoble Opperman, the first Dean of the Florida State College for Women School of Music. Includes Opperman family papers.

Source of Acquisition

Owen F. Sellers

Method of Acquisition

Gift of Owen F. Sellers, Administrator of Estate of Ella Scoble Opperman, May 1969. Additional materials received in 1990, donor unknown.

Processing Information

The collection was processed in October 1969. Additional materials were processed in 1990 and 1997, and the finding aid was updated in May 2006 by Burt Altman. Finding aid encoded by Emily Gaskin.

Ella Scoble Opperman Papers
Burt Altman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the FSU Special Collections & Archives Repository

116 Honors Way
PO Box 3062047
Tallahassee FL 32306-2047 US