Thursday, September 7, 2017

#TBT in the Archives 9/7/17: Red Raiders Marching Band

Falling temperatures and colorful leaves mean a return to classes and papers for most Shippensburg students. But fall also means the return of football games, and with them, the Shippensburg University Red Raiders Marching Band!

Weeks before classes begin, members of the marching band return to campus for band camp. While there, instrumentalists, percussionists, and color guard all work together to learn the year's field show, spruce up pep band music, and rehearse for hours. The result is the most important part of any football game - school spirit.

The Red Raiders Marching Band plays at the homecoming game in 2014.

In the service of growing school spirit, the Shippensburg band program was launched in 1924 at Cumberland Valley State Normal School when a band of students got together to play pep band music at home athletic games and pep meetings. They didn't have uniforms, practice space, or nice instruments. After the football season ended, they converted themselves to a concert band.

The 1923-1924 C.V.S.N.S. school band.

By the next year, the band had gotten uniforms and instruments, and was granted practice space.

The 1930-1931 college band.

Throughout the next 50 years, the marching band became an integral part of home athletic contests, providing a soundtrack to wins and consolation during losses. They changed their uniforms several times, and in 1937, fully admitted women to the band and created a majorette and color guard.

During the 1970s, band members had a once in a lifetime experience when President-elect Jimmy Carter asked the group to perform in the 1977 inaugural parade in Washington D.C. Carter and his wife saw the band perform in Harrisburg during the 1976 campaign and Mrs. Carter enjoyed them so much she asked her husband to invite them to the inauguration. Though the band represented Pennsylvania in the parade, they received no state funding for their trip.

The Red Raiders Marching Band in the January 20, 1977 inaugural parade in Washington, D.C.

A letter of appreciation to the band from President Jimmy Carter.

The marching band continues to provide support to the football team at home games during fall semesters in addition to traveling to exhibitions and performances in Pennsylvania and Maryland each year.

Shippensburg University Archives & Special Collections has a variety of photographs of band activities throughout the school's history, including in a full collection of school yearbooks. For more information and to do research at the archives, email

Cumberland 1924, 107
Cumberland 1931, 160.
Cumberland 1977, 89, 91.
Cumberland 2015, 45
Shippensburg University Red Raiders Marching Band, "80 Years of School Spirit and Pride!," Record Group 18.6, File box 2, Folder 13, Shippensburg University Archives & Special Collections, Shippensburg, PA.
Slate, January 18, 1977.

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