Ralph Schecter

Photo from Dickinson College Photo Collections

    Ralph Schecter was born on September 28, 1893 and graduated from the University of Illinois in 1916. He taught at various high schools such as the Council Bluffs (Iowa) High School(1916-1917) and the Okmulgee High School(1919) as an English teacher before coming to Dickinson College as an Instructor in English in 1922. Schecter describes that at his appointment to the Dickinson faculty, he was "one of the three young men added to a faculty of much older men, most whom had been here a long time"1.
    James Henry Morgan, President of Dickinson College at the time, appointed Schecter to be the Director of Music and the director of the Orchestra and Band. Schecter was a very versatile faculty member because he taught music, public speaking and English. Most of the students involved with the band and orchestra, did not know how to play instruments and it was up to Schecter to teach them how to play. In 1937, Schecter created a new Dickinson Song Book which required over two years of collecting Dickinsonian music2 . Every school day for more then twenty-five years, Schecter had his ensemble play two new pieces at chapel services. This alone showed that Schecter conducted over a thousand music compositions. He also arranged some of his own music3 .
    In 1958, Schecter was bestowed with the Thomas Beaver Chair of Literature and retired in 1961. Schecter served under six presidents during his time at Dickinson. James Henry Morgan, one of the six presidents, stated that Schecter "greatly enriched the musical life of the whole college"4 . Many students remember "the crisp, no-nonsense manner" in which Schecter taught in. Schecter states,"I never tried to make myself popular with the students, I taught them what I thought they needed."5.Schecter was awarded the Distinguished Teachers Award from the Lindback Foundation during the 1960's.
    Outside of Dickinson College, Schecter was a member of the Second Presbyterian Church of Carlisle, the Masons, and the local Elks club. Schecter was also involved with the 23rd engineers of the A.E.F. during World War I. He served as the conductor of the 243th Engineers Band in France6. Schecter married Rheasa Madden in 1922. Ralph Schecter died on December 7, 1980.


    1. A letter from Ralph Schecter to Charles Sellers on November 26, 1973.
    2. "New Dickinson Song Book." The Dickinson Alumnus. vol. 14, no. 4 (May 1937): 8-9.
    3.  Music portfolio of Ralph Schecter.
    4. James Henry Morgan. Dickinson College: 1783-1933. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Mount Pleasant Press, 1933, p. 386.
    5."Ralph Schecter" Dropfile.
    6. "John C. Grimm" Dropfile.


    Dickinson College. Microcosm, 1934, p.40, Dickinson College Archives.
    "Grimm, John C." Dropfile, Dickinson College Archives.
    Morgan, James Henry.Dickinson College: 1783-1933. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Mount Pleasant Press, 1933, p. 386.
    Music portfolio of Ralph Schecter, Dickinson College Special Collections.
    "New Dickinson Song Book." The Dickinson Alumnus. vol.1, no..4 (May 1937): 8-9, Dickinson College Archives.
    "Schecter, Ralph" Dropfile, Dickinson College Archives.
    A letter from Ralph Schecter to Charles Sellers on November 26, 1973, Dickinson College Special Collections.

    Return to Ralph Schecter

-Cynthia L. Mackey '03
Class of 1934     Chronicles

Dickinson College

Dickinson 1934 is a project of Prof. Osborne's History 204 Class, Fall Semester 2000.