John Philip Sousa hits the beach at new exhibit!

Sousa hits the beach as part of our new exhibit “America and Sousa’s Band Through the Photographic Lens of Charles Strothkamp”

John Philip Sousa and Helen Sousa at Atlantic Beach, NJ, August 1, 1927

Charles Strothkamp (1896-1983) was born and raised in Manhattan, New York. At the age of fifteen he began studying clarinet, and nearly fifteen years later joined the Sousa Band as fourth clarinet for its 1926 tour which included extended performances at Atlantic City’s Steele Pier, Philadelphia’s Willow Grove Park, and concerts throughout the New England, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states. After Sousa’s death in March 1932, Charles went on to study stenography and typewriting at New York’s Drake School of Business and eventually took a position as railway postal clerk with the United States Postal Service. He remained with the postal service for thirty years and retired in 1965.

Throughout his music and postal careers, Charles was an avid amateur photographer who chronicled his travels with the Sousa Band, his parents on summer trips, and everyday life in New York City. As he travelled with the Sousa ensemble his camera meticulously documented the candid off-stage life of his colleagues between 1926 and 1930. This exhibit explores the humorous exploits of the Sousa Band as it travelled across America at the close of the roaring twenties and the beginning of the Great Depression.


The exhibit is part of the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music‘s American Music Month Celebration and it’s located in the Harding Band Building, 1103 S. Sixth Street, Champaign, IL.