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Personal papers of Russell L. Wiley

Call Number: PP 347


Russell L. Wiley taught in the School of Fine Arts at the University of Kansas from 1934-1974. This collection contains correspondence, biographical information, information about the Midwestern Music Camp, and materials relating to the running of the KU Band, including 3 large scrapbooks and 3 vinyl EP recordings of the band and orchestra. Boxes 1-4 each include a typed list of files that they contain.


  • Creation: 1930-1974, 2017


Conditions Governing Access

Audio visual materials are stored in the KU Annex off-site storage area.

All researchers interested in reviewing this material must consult Spencer Research Library Public Services staff (785-864-4334 or, 9-5 M-F CST) before a planned visit; staff will respond within three days, though materials may not be available in that timeframe. Access to audio visual materials may require digitization first. Be advised that drop-in requests for this material cannot be accommodated.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Russell L. Wiley (1903-1991)

Russell Lee Wiley was born on 27 November 1903 near Victor, Erath County, Texas to George Washington (1854-1942) and Carolina Cynthia (Martin) Wiley (1866-1936). Russell was the youngest boy of 10 children, his younger sister Ruth dying as a child.

Russell Wiley went to Hardin-Simmons University in Texas where his brother was serving as band director. Wiley also studied at Randolph College, Drake University, the American Conservatory in Chicago, and at Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma. He received free tuition at Phillips in exchange for building a band, also starting the Tri-State Music Festival.

In 1934 Wiley came to the University of Kansas, taking over from Joseph C. McCanles as band director. In 1936 he founded the Midwestern Music Camp, a summer music program for students from grades 6 through 12 taught by KU faculty and guest musicians. In 1939 he started Band Day, a halftime show at a KU football game each fall showcasing hundreds of high school band students. Both these events continue to be KU traditions into the 21st century. Wiley also served as conductor for the University Symphony Orchestra from 1942-1957.

Wiley received a variety of honors and awards, including Band Director of the Year and joining the Kansas Music Educators Association Hall of Fame for Outstanding Musicians.

In 1968 Wiley retired as band director in order to devote more time to the Midwestern Music Camp, from which he also retired in 1974.

Wiley married Velma Ruth Walters (1906-1999) in 1931, with whom he had five children: Velma Lee, Daniel Edwin, Frederick Russell, Anna Carolyn, and Jeannie Marie. They divorced in 1955, and in 1957 Wiley remarried to Charmaine Craft Asher (1929-1994). Russell L. Wiley died on November 6, 1991.

[Information retrieved in part from Wiley's family.]


4 Linear Feet (4 boxes + 3 oversize boxes, 3 LP records)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

PP 347

Physical Location

UA AV 29

Physical Location

A/V items at Annex (Contact Spencer Library Public Services)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gifts, Russell L. Wiley, 1988; Lucy McAllister, 2014; Velma Bogart, 2017, 2019.

Related Materials

Consult library staff regarding the availability of related photographs, biographical files, and scrapbooks.

Records from the University of Kansas School of Fine Arts, RG 22, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Guide to the Russell L. Wiley Collection
Personal papers of Russell L. Wiley
Finding aid prepared by ad, 2005. Finding aid encoded by ad, 2005. Finding aid revised by mwh, 2017; eje, 2023.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Personal papers of Russell L. Wiley, University Archives, PP 347, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States