Ken Darby Bohemian Club music manuscript collection, 1950-1983 (bulk, 1962-1976)

Processed by Sonoma County Library staff; machine-readable finding aid created by Geoffrey Skinner.
Published by the Sonoma County Library
Published Dec. 20, 2019
Sonoma County Library
6135 State Farm Drive
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
Phone: 707 545-0831

Ken Darby Bohemian Club music manuscript collection, 1950-1983 (bulk, 1962-1976)

Sonoma County Library

Overview of the Collection

Title: Ken Darby Bohemian Club music manuscript collection
Date (inclusive): Check date
Date (bulk): (bulk, 1962-1976)
Identification: SPC.00037
Collector, composer, arranger: Darby, Ken
Writer of inscription: Gottlieb, Louis Edward
Lyricist: Sterling, Wallace, 1906-1985
Physical Description: 1.3 linear feet 1 oversize flat box (5 x 33 x 41 cm)
Language of Material: Materials are in English.
Repository: Sonoma County History and Genealogy Library, Sonoma County Library
Abstract: This collection contains sheet music for programs at the Bohemian Club's Bohemian Grove in Monte Rio, California. Most music composed or arranged by Ken Darby. Collection is a mix of original manuscripts and photocopied scores with annotations. The majority of scores are labeled by Darby as part of the annual Preachers' Sons Night program held at Bohemian Grove during the annual summer encampment between 1963 and 1983. Most are single scores, but there is a complete packet for the 1983 program with cover letter from Darby to Bob Minser at the Bohemian Club in San Francisco, dated 15 April, 1983. Lyrics for a number of pieces written by Wallace (Wally) Sterling, retired president of Stanford University; others includes notes to or are dedicated to Sterling. Also includes copy of the score for Madera (music, D. Swan; text, M. Flanders) inscribed and signed by Lou Gottlieb, founder of the Morningstar Ranch commune in Occidental, Calif., and a copy of Darby's theme music for the 1953 short cartoon, The Martins & the Coys.

Biography/Organization History

Ken Darby (Kenneth-Lorin Darby) (May 13, 1909 – January 24, 1992) was an American composer, vocal arranger, lyricist, and conductor. His film scores were recognized by the awarding of three Academy Awards and one Grammy Award. He provided vocals for the Munchkinland mayor in The Wizard of Oz (1939), who was portrayed in the film by Charlie Becker. Darby is also notable as the author of The Brownstone House of Nero Wolfe (1983), a biography of the home of Rex Stout's fictional detective. (Wikipedia, retrieved Sept. 24, 2018). He was also the arranger and lyricist for Elvis Presley's 1956 hit, Love Me Tender. Darby had a long association with the Bohemian Club and composed and performed numerous pieces for both his camp at Bohemian Grove and for annual Grove productions during the summer encampments.

Biography/Organization History

The Bohemian Grove's annual Preachers' Sons Night program was initiated in the 1940s by John Charles Thomas (1891-1960), American opera, operetta and concert baritone. He launched the program "when he discovered that many of the Club's members were also sons of preachers." (Maher, Michael J. John Charles Thomas: beloved baritone of American opera and popular music. Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., 2006; page 17). Charles Easton Rothwell notes that "one of the most popular members of the club is Wally Sterling, retired president of Stanford University. He presides over [the event] held each encampment on the middle Sunday. (Source: Rothwell, Charles Easton, 1902- . From mines to minds : From mines to minds ; an interview conducted by Malca Chall in 1984 ; with an introduction by Ella Barrows Hagar . Berkeley, Calif. : Regional Oral History Office, c1985, page 225; available online:

Scope and Contents

Sheet music for programs at the Bohemian Club's Bohemian Grove in Monte Rio, California.

Arrangement of the collection

Organized into four series:
  1. Preachers' Sons Night scores
  2. Miscellaneous scores composed by or arranged by Ken Darby
  3. Miscellaneous music, occasion not identified
  4. Souvenir materials from Cole at Filoli program, Mar. 18, 1983
Arranged chronologically (Series 1) and alphabetical by composer or title (Series 2-3).
Includes an printed excerpt of an oral history transcript by Bohemian Club member Charles Easton Rothwell discussing the Preachers' Sons Night and other Bohemian Grove activies. ( Rothwell, Charles Easton, 1902-. From mines to minds : an interview conducted by Malca Chall in 1984 ; with an introduction by Ella Barrows Hagar . Berkeley, Calif. : Regional Oral History Office, c1985)

Access Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection.

Personal Names

Darby, Ken.

Corporate Names

Bohemian Club (San Francisco, Calif.)
Bohemian Club (San Francisco, Calif.).--Preachers' Sons' Night)

Geographic Terms

Bohemian Grove (Calif.)

Genre and Format Terms

Scores (documents for music)
Archival materials

Important Information for Users of the Collection

Conditions Governing Access:

Access Information

This collection is partially processed. Please contact the Sonoma County History and Genealogy Library for access; for contact info and current hours, see

Conditions of Use

Collection does not circulate and may be photocopied or photographed by arrangement only.

Publication Rights

Property rights reside with the Sonoma County Library. The Sonoma County Library makes no assertions as to ownership of any original copyrights to digitized work and can claim only physical ownership of the work (s) described in these records. However, these materials are intended for Personal or Research use only. Any other kind of use, including, but not limited to commercial or scholarly publication in any medium or format, public exhibition, or use online or in a web site, may be subject to additional restrictions including but not limited to the copyrights held by parties other than the Library. USERS ARE SOLELY RESPONSIBLE for determining the existence of such rights and for obtaining any permissions and/or paying associated fees necessary for the proposed use. Preferred credit line is: Courtesy, the Sonoma County Library. Please see additional reproduction and reuse information at
[Identification of item], Ken Darby Bohemian Club music manuscript collection, 1950-1970. SPC.00037, Sonoma County Library Archives, Sonoma County Library, Santa Rosa, CA.
Gift: Geoffrey Skinner, June 2010-

Custodial History

Collection may have belonged to Wallace (Wally) Sterling (1906-1985), and subsequently by his widow, Ann Sterling, (1905-1991). The collection was purchased by Geoffrey Skinner at Stanford in late 1991.