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Charles Lee Hill Collection

Identifier: UAC/09/2022.a002

Scope and Contents

The materials in this collection are composed of two boxes.

Box 1 is composed of Charles Lee Hill's scrapbook and photographs of the musical group "The Houstonians."

Box 2 is composed of biographical materials and photographs about Charles Lee Hill's life and music career. As well as biographical materials about his grandfather W.T. Hill's life and time spent in the American Civil War as a Confederate officer.


  • Majority of material found within 1948 - 1950
  • 1983 - 1984
  • 1986
  • 1861 - 1865

Conditions Governing Use

The materials represented in this finding aid have been made available for research, teaching and private use. For these purposes, you may reproduce (print, make photocopies, or download) these items without prior permission on the condition that you provide proper attribution of the source in all copies.

Please contact the Newton Gresham Library's Special Collections and University Archives department to request permissions to reproduce materials for any other purpose, or to obtain information regarding the copyright status of a particular digital image, text, audio or video recording.

Biographical / Historical

Charles Lee Hill was a pioneer and innovator in composing and arranging swing and jazz music for concert bands. He was also a saxophonist, music educator, librarian, deacon at Lovelady Methodist Church, and a drafted veteran of World War II.

Charles Lee Hill was born in Houston Heights, Texas on November 15, 1910. Charles' mother, Sue Lee Hill died a few days after his birth after which he lived with his aunt for three years in Cold Springs, Texas until his father, Charles Samuel Hill remarried Martha Ola MacPherson. He grew up mainly in Nacogdoches, Texas but also lived in the Texan cities of Lufkin, La Porte, and Jacksonville.

In the Summer of 1933, Hill received his Bachelor of Science in Education from Stephen F. Austin State University. During his undergraduate study, he also received additional study from Hardin Simmons University. For the summers of 1934 to 1935, Hill became the band director for the Stephen F. Austin State University band.

During World War II, he was drafted into the army in March 1942. He trained at Camp Barkeley in Abilene, Texas, and was assigned to the Eighth Service Command as a clerk. During his spare time, he wrote a weekly column for the camp newspaper "Ft. Sam Houston." Hill was later stationed in Dallas where he wrote for a detachment newspaper. After Dallas, Hill was stationed at Camp Fannin near Tyler, Texas where he was assigned as a Public Relations Officer. His duty as a PR Officer was to edit the camp's newspaper. During his spare time at Camp Fannin, he was the leader of a medical detachment dance band and composed music for a camp musical that toured. Hill was discharged from the army in October 1945 with the rank of Technician Sergeant fourth grade. This rank was specially created for the war for those who were enlisted with special technical skills (1942-1948). Hill continued to write articles for newspapers and music magazines later in life.

From 1946 to 1947 he was the music arranger and played the tenor sax-clarinet for the Ted Johnson Society Band.

In 1948, he received his Master's in Music Education from North Texas State University. Later, he earned post-graduate credits towards a doctorate degree from New York University (Summers of 1948 and 1949), North Texas State University (Summers of 1951 and 1952), and University of Houston (Summers of 1953-1955). In 1955 he received his Administrator's and Supervisor's Certificate and in 1961 received his Librarian Certificate both from Sam Houston State Teachers College.

From 1948 to 1953 Hill was an Associate Professor of Music at Sam Houston State Teachers College with the title of Director of Popular Music. In this role, he introduced the college to their first swing clinic, a chance for all students to learn about and how to play popular msuic. Not only was he a professor but he was also the band director for "The Houstonians," a jazz concert band.

Hill also served his time teaching music in public schools. In 1934 he was the first band director of the Troup High School Band in Troup, Texas. From 1935 to 1942 he was the band director at Overton High School and from 1953 to 1959 he was the band director at Lovelady High School. From 1959 to 1966 he was the director of instrumental and vocal music for the North Forest I.S.D. in Houston, Texas.

Hill has composed over twenty-four original known works his most well-known compositions are "At the Gremlin Ball" (1944), "Red Rhythm Valley" (1942), "Prairie Jump" (1947), and "Space City, U.S.A. March" (1962). "Space City, U.S.A. March" was written for President John F. Kennedy in 1962 when he visited Houston, Texas to tour the up-and-coming NASA facility. Hill is the Band Director Emeritus of the Houston Space City Concert Band. Along with his compositions, Hill has arranged over twenty published band arrangements as well as several unpublished arrangements for university bands (SHSU and Rice University), dance arrangements for "The Houstonians" and other amateur/professional dance bands, and alma mater, fight songs, fanfare songs for high school bands.

After Hill's career in music education, he served as a librarian for the North Forest I.S.D. from 1966 to 1986.

Hill retired on June 30, 1986, at the age of 75. He served a total of forty-nine years in education with twenty years as a librarian. Before his retirement and after, he was the director for the popular Houston-based volunteer band, “Good Times Brass Band” from 1982-1992.

Hill was inducted into the Band Directors Hall of Fame at Stephen F. Austin State University. Hill served in many organizations including the American Society of Composers, Texas Music Education Association, Texas Bandmasters Associations, Texas State Library Association, Kappa Kappa Psi, and the National Honorary Band Fraternity. He was also a member of the Lions Club since 1953, a club focusing on improving communities' health, well-being, and growth through service. As a member, he was president twice for two different towns and was selected as Lion of the Year several times.

Charles Lee Hill died on Monday, October 14, 2002, in Houston, Texas at the age of 91.


2 boxes (One flat archival box and one vertical archival box.)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

Located in the University Archvies, Newton Gresham Library, 400.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was donated by Charles Lee Hill in 1987.

Related Materials

The folder "SHSU-Hill" is composed of two files.

The first file provides newspaper article clippings about Charles Lee Hill including his obituary. The second file provides handwritten notes about Hill's taped oral history and music classes in the Peabody Memorial Library, website printouts of the collection "Charles Lee Hill Papers, 1933-1983" from Stephen F. Austin State University's Special Collections, and photocopies of typed letters between Charles Lee Hill and the Special Collections Librarian at Sam Houston State University, Paul M. Culp Jr.

This folder is located in the filing cabinets of the University Archives, SHSU.

Charles Hill Collection
Language of description
Script of description
Charles Lee Hill

Repository Details

Part of the Thomason Special Collections & SHSU University Archives Repository

1830 Bobby K. Marks Drive
Huntsville TX 77341 US