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Kilgen Organ Company Photographs

Identifier: AOIAL-ATOC-RG0017
This collection consists mostly of photographs of theatre organs, the theatres that housed those organs, and photographs about several theatre organists specific to The Kilgen Organ Company. The collection of photographs and memorabilia was originally compiled by Charles G. Crook.


  • 1949-1967

Language of Materials



0.50 cubic feet

Administrative History:

The following historical information was copied verbatim from notes found in the Crook collection: "According to research by the Kilgen family, Sebastian Kilgen fled from France to Durlach, Germany where he built the first Kilgen organ in 1640. The trade was handed down from generation to generation, and in 1851 the Kilgen craftsmanship was brought to this country by George Kilgen, who set up the first Kilgen factory in New York City. After George Kilgen's death, the business was brought to St. Louis by his son, Charles. That was in 1873, and the next fifty years saw the company grow to be one of the largest, if not the largest, organ manufacturers in the country. Then, in 1932, Charles Kilgen died and the business was handed down to his four sons; Eugene, George, Alfred, and Charles, Jr., after which it was operated for a short time, and disbanded. A few of the former employees then organized what was called, "Kilgen Associates", which also lasted a short time and disbanded. In 1939, Eugene Kilgen, with the assistance of his brother Charles, Jr., as plant manager, and Max Hess, another Kilgen veteran, as designer, organized "The Kilgen Organ Company". Shortly after organization, World War II came along and the company put aside organ building and went into the production of gliders. When the war was over, the building of organs was restored and continued until the present time. The future of the company is questionable, another result of present-day inflationary conditions."

Collection contains photographs of several notable theater organists, including Alfred S. Robyn and Arthur Lee Utt. Charles Galloway (1871-1931) is another noted organist and musical director at Washington University who is included in this collection.

Arrangement of Materials:

Order was imposed on this collection. The collection consisted of a few printed materials about the Kilgen Organ Company and also a large quantity of theater organ and theatre artist photographs. The collection was not organized in any way in its original state. Photographs were separated from the printed materials and organized according to the original numbering style.

Processing Information

In September 2017, Assistant Archivist Brynn Simons reprocessed the Kilgen Organ Company Photographs Collection. This reprocessing included adding unique item identifiers, renaming series, subseries and folders to better reflect the content within them. Scope and Content notes were rewritten for folders as well as at the collection level and item level descriptions were added. This reprocessing demonstrates the American Organ Institute Archives and Library's desire to follow current archival standards.

Project supported by an award from the Oklahoma Historical Records Advisory Board and the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, through funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission of the National Archives and Records Administration.
Guide to the Kilgen Organ Company Photographs AOIAL.ATOC.RG0017 AOIAL.ATOC.RG0017
Finding Aid Authors: Stephanie Barth.

Repository Details

Part of the The American Organ Institute Archives and Library Repository

2101 W. Tecumseh Rd
Suite C
Norman Oklahoma 73069 United States
(405) 325-3341