Dundee Society in the 19th Century

Dundee Choral Society

Dundee Choral Union

The Dundee Amateur Choral Union began its existence on 28 January 1858 with a group of 25 interested people at a private house in Dundee, the aim to promote the singing of Choral work.  It was not until 4th June 1860 that the Society made its first appearance before an audience of invited friends at the Trinity Hall Dundee.  For the next few years 2 concerts were held each year, one in June and one in either December or January, again for invited guests.  The first public performance was held on 22 December 1862 when 800 tickets were sold and the proceeds of £100.00 were handed over to the Lancashire Relief Fund.

A history of the Society was prepared by Henry Nagel tracing its beginnings from 1858 to 1874 and is included among many papers handed over from the Society to Dundee Archives.  A fascinating read for anyone interested in the history of the Society and also gives an insight to the varied business and interests of the rich and powerful in Dundee.

Minute Books and A.G.M. Minute books from 1858 to 1944 are available.  In the beginning details of active member were only recorded in the A.G.M. Minutes and even then it was sometimes only new members for that particular year.  The same names appeared sometimes 2-3 years apart, difficult to know if they attended every year or on an ad hoc basis.  Honorary member were occasionally mentioned at this time.  After 1886 weekly attendances were recorded along with annual lists of Honorary Members.

The finances of the Society are not so extensively recorded but data from 1923 to 1945 and account abstracts from 1958 - 1982 were included.

A comprehensive package of press cuttings were recorded, basically every time the Society was mentioned in local papers a copy was kept, plus reports on concerts etc.  Also included are letters from and to members recording absence, resignations etc and appointments of conductors/musical directors and details of voice competitions.

Whilst every effort was made to accurately record the information on the data bases (available in Dundee Archives), at times it was very difficult to ascertain the address of the member concerned and whether it was the same person appearing 2 or 3 times i.e. the same unusual initial or name but 5 to 10 years apart.  Also it appeared to be the norm during the late 19th century that when 2 or more sisters were enrolled, the elder was just called Miss [Smith] and younger sisters were marked with either their initial or full name.   

Sheila Hall - 7 March 2012

The Lists

Choral Society Members
Dundee Choral Society
Honorary Members  


Iain D. McIntosh, 2022