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Gordon Kibbee Papers

Identifier: AOIAL-ATOC-RG0010
The collection consists of the papers of A. Gordon Kibbee from 1940-1998 and reflects his rich and varied involvement with the pipe organ.  The collection boasts many documents that shed light on his career as an organ designer as well as his years as a representative for the Wicks Organ Company.  Nine photo albums showcasing church and theatre visits nationwide during the 1960s-1970s illustrate his enthusiasm and knowledge of the pipe organ. As an founding member of the ATOS, there are selected copies of various journals as well as personal letters pertaining to ATOS matters.  Reflecting his life-long work as a historian, the papers contain several copies of the complete WurliTzer opus list as well as specifications for instruments by a variety of builders.  The collection also contains educational materials and class records reflecting his time as an organ instructor in California.  A modest amount of personal records and correspondence rounds out the collection.


  • 1940-1998
  • Majority of material found in 1960-1970

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access:

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use:

Any use of archival materials outside of the scope of education and/or research must be approved by the American Organ Institute Archives and Library staff and may be subject to copyright.


7.0 cubic feet

Administrative History:

Arthur Gordon Kibbee, theatre organist, design consultant, theatre organ activist, organ technician and church organist was born in 1914 in California.  After showing interest in the pipe organ at a very early age, he began piano lessons at age seven and later studied organ with Charles Davis Carter (Gaylord Carter's father) and completed a comprehensive four-year music course in high school.  He continued his studies at the California Academy of Music where he took composition lessons from Maximilian Rossi and conducting with Leo Daudani.  He took additional courses in orchestration with Robert McDonald at Valley College.

            During Army service (1942-1945) Kibbee was trained in electronics, acoustics, and communication at the Signal Corps School, in addition to serving as a chapel organist.  Following WWII, his career began to take off as he played in orchestras that provided music to radio and television programs at NBC, ABC and CBS.  This is in addition to his work as a composer for the field, writing musical themes and interludes for weekly dramatic and comedic shows such as "The Count of Monte Cristo" and "A Date with Judy".  It was around this time that he started working as an organist for the Gil Dagenais Trio at the Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica.  When Dagenais decided to leave the music business entirely, he turned the trio over to Kibbee and the Gordon Kibbee trio continued to play at clubs and hotels around Santa Monica.

            Though all of this, Kibbee remained in demand as an organ consultant, notably for the 4/56 Aeolian-Skinner and the 4/36 WurliTzer organ in the R.C. Simonton residence in Toluca Lake, CA.  Here he worked closely with Jesse Crawford and Henry Pope on the tonal regulation and finishing.  In 1965, he was engaged by Radio City Music Hall to supervise the restoration of their organ, the largest WurliTzer installed in a theatre.

            As a founding member of the American Theatre Organ Society, the group played an important role in his professional life.  Not only was he a member of the first board of directors, but he was a featured soloist at both the 1956 and 1979 national conventions.  He was elected to the ATOS Hall of Fame in 1986.

            From 1966-1972, he was the Southern California representative for the Wicks Organ Company of Highland, Illinois.  In this position, Kibbee was responsible for design, sales, installation, tonal finishing, and service for a great many churches and residences throughout the territory.

           He died of natural causes at his Encino home on July 16, 2003 at the age of 89.

Acquisition Information:


Processing Information

In February 2019, Assistant Archivist Jennifer Sara Whyatt reprocessed the Gordon Kibbee Papers. This reprocessing included minor reconstruction of original order, devising hierarchical titles for materials, weeding, and maintenance. In addition, unit identifiers were updated to better reflect the contents of the collection. It also allows for future expansion for ease of patron access. This reprocessing reflects the desire and aim of the American Organ Institute Archives and Library to follow current archival standards.
Guide to the Gordon Kibbee Papers AOIAL.ATOC.RG010
Finding Aid Authors: Andrew Schaeffer.

Repository Details

Part of the The American Organ Institute Archives and Library Repository

2101 W. Tecumseh Rd
Suite C
Norman Oklahoma 73069 United States