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United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
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100 Years of Marine Band Logs

By Staff Sgt. Rachel Ghadiali | United States Marine Band | January 11, 2016

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This year marks the 100 year anniversary of the Marine Band Logbook, a collection of daily diaries started by the band’s 19th Leader William H. Santelmann. Santelmann initiated the logbook in 1916 to record the details of Marine Band concerts and events to include the time, place, purpose, and personnel and other details. According to Marine Band Historian Gunnery Sgt. Kira Wharton, the diaries became much more detailed in the 1920s, to include the daily schedule of the band, rehearsal, promotions, auditions, retirements, and even the weather.

In 1919, the Marine Band Library began keeping a logbook. Some Drum Majors kept logbooks as did the Public Affairs Office, at times. The Leader logs exist from 1916-62, the Operations logs exist from 1963-present, and the Library logs exist from 1919-present.

“The logbooks are invaluable today for many reasons,” Wharton said. “They are a window into the daily life of the band. We can find details about various events we have done including monument dedications, inaugurals, funerals, and visits by special guests. By referencing the logbooks, the Marine Band has been able to recreate dedication ceremonies, date photographs, find answers to historical questions, and discover what the band was doing on historic dates. Through the log books we are able to learn about John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inaugurations; the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and Vietnam Veterans Memorial monument dedications; and the funerals of John F. Kennedy and John Philip Sousa.”

According to the Marine Band’s Leader Log on Dec. 7, 1941, White House Assistant Usher Wilson Searles informed Marine Band Director William F. Santelmann that “Japan was making an air raid on Hawaii.” The log also states that “orders came over [the] radio for all Service men to report to their stations in uniform tomorrow morning.”

“We are very fortunate to have these log books,” Wharton said. “It’s always a treat for me to have an excuse to pull one out and see what we were doing 20, 30, or even 100 years ago. I hope that future generations of Marine Band members and historians will enjoy referencing them as much as I do.”


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