Frederic Field Bullard

Frederic Field Bullard (1864-1904) was a composer from Boston.  He is best known for “A Stein Song”, co-written with fellow Visionist Richard Hovey, which was a favorite on college campuses.  (You can hear a recording of “A Stein Song” by contemporary musician Nicole Edgecomb at the end of the “Visionists of Boston” documentary, or a vintage recording from the Library of Congresss linked below).

According to his friend and fellow MIT grad, poet Gelett Burgess, Bullard suffered a spinal injury as an infant which caused occasional pain throughout his life. He was an intellectually curious child who attended the Boston Latin School and then MIT.  While studying chemistry as a “special student” he was active in MIT Glee Club performances, playing piano, flute, and double-bass as well as singing.  After graduating in 1887, he decided to pursue his musical passion and spent several years in Munich, Germany studying under composer Josef Rheinberger.

Bullard returned to the US in 1892, initially to receive a prestigious music award in New York, then returned to Boston, were he kept himself very busy composing, arranging, and teaching music.  He was successful in having several of his pieces published, including “A Stein Song” in 1898, though according to Burgess he never made a living from publishing.  In 1896 he married his MIT classmate Maud Sanderson and in 1898 they had a son, Theodore Vail Bullard.

Like his fellow Visionists, Bullard was inspired by the past and by British Romanticism.  His published songs included adaptations of poems by Percy Bysshe Shelly such as “Hymn to Pan”.  According to Burgess, Bullard was slightly embarrassed to be best know for the “catchy” Stein Song and hoped to be remembered for his more sophisticated compositions.   Fellow  composer and MIT grad Leo R. Lewis wrote that Bullard was a true musical genius: “I am confident that the concert-giver of the year 2000, making up a programme of a score of the best songs by American composers who were at work in 1900, cannot justly omit a song by Frederic Field Bullard.  Nay, more!”

Burgess wrote that Bullard’s associates “were such men as Richard Hovey, Bliss Carman, Ralph Adams Cram, and that little coterie of artists who, first as ‘The Visionists’ and afterward as the ‘Pewter Mugs’, contributed what was most joyous to life in Boston in the 1890’s.  With these Bullard, in virtue of his character as well as his talent, was a boon comrade.  He was of that ‘Vagabondia’ which gave to the town a new prestige, and he contributed not a little to that frenzied burst of youth which was embodied in ‘Chap Book’ times.”  Ralph Adams Cram, who collaborated with Bullard on “Royalist Songs” inspired by Cram’s love of English monarchy, believed Bullard would have been recognized as a genius had he lived longer.

Bullard remained very dedicated to the MIT community, and MIT president Henry S. Pritchett asked him to lead students in compiling the first MIT song book, published in 1903 as Tech Songs: The MIT Kommers Book.  In 1904, at the age of 39, Bullard died of pneumonia.  Burgess believed that he “literally worked himself to death” preparing music for that year’s Tech Reunion event.  Bullard and his family had recently moved from Boston to Scituate, Massachusetts (also home to Thomas Meteyard).

The “Stein Song” remained a staple of MIT Glee Club performances, including “pops” concerts at which the club performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  It came to be considered MIT’s Alma Mater song (although the lyrics did not reference MIT) and freshmen were instructed to stand and remove their hats whenever they heard it.  It was also a favorite at Dartmouth College (Richard Hovey’s alma mater) and Tufts University (where Leo Lewis taught).  Lewis included it in a 1915 Tufts song book re-titled as “Campus Song” with lyrics slightly altered to refer to Tufts.   In the 1920s, MIT held a series of contests for a new alma mater song to replace the “Stein Song,” in part because its drinking theme became more controversial during Prohibition.  The attempts to change the song were not popular among students and alumni, and none of the winners caught on easily.  “Arise Ye Sons of MIT” by 1926 alum John B. Wilbur is now described as “MIT’s closest thing to an old alma mater”.


Manuscript of “A Stein Song” from the MIT Archives.


Frederic Field Bullard c1904, unknown photographer, from Technology Review

Vintage Recording of “A Stein Song” by Frederic Field Bullard and Richard Hovey from the Library of Congress

Vintage Recording of “Beam From Yonder Star” by Frederic Field Bullard and William Prescott Foster from the Library of Congress


“Bullard: The Man” by Gellet Burgess and “Bullard: The Musician” by Leo R. Lowry, Technology Review, January 1904, pp. 586-601

MIT Admissions History Page

Tech Songs: The MIT Kommers Book 1903 page by MIT Archives

Crams, Ralph Adams, “My Life in Architecture“, Little, Brown, and Company, 1936

The Boston Globe:
Boston Men Win Prizes in Music”, April 1, 1893
Composer Laid at Rest”, June 29, 1904
Tech Wants a New Song—Stein Song Too Painful”, February 26, 1922

The Tech:
Must We Be Collegiate?”, March 4, 1928
The Need for A Song”, January 9, 1925

Wikipedia (stub page only in German so far)

Francis Watts Lee

Francis Watts Lee (1867-1945) was a publisher and photographer based in Boston.  He is best known for publishing the Visionists’ journal The Knight Errant, helping to introduce a distinctive soft-focus lens that became associated with American pictorialism, and for his family’s role as friends and muses to several influential photographers.

Lee grew up in Roxbury, MA.  He attended the Chauncey School in Boston where he made friends with F. Holland Day.  He was married to Agnes Rand Lee, a poet and the daughter of William Henry Rand of Chicago, co-founder of Rand, McNally Company.

Lee was a staunch believer in Christian Socialism and a supporter of social justice-oriented Episcopalian organizations such the Order of the Holy Cross founded by hid friend Father James O. S. Huntington.  Like many of his fellow Visionists, he was also inspired by the Arts & Crafts movement.  Lee began a small press, Elzevir, committed to the fine art of print, like those of his friend Day and his hero William Morris.  Elzevir published The Knight Errant, a quarterly art and literature journal representing the perspectives of his friends Day, Ralph Adams Cram, Bertram Goodhue, Louise Imogen Guiney, and their circle.

Lee paid great attention to detail and the four issues of the “quarterly” took two years to release.  During this time he became a father and began a more reliable job running a printing press at the Boston Public Library, where he was Guiney’s co-worker.

Lee’s photography included sensitive portraits of his family and other women and children, and of Father Huntington.  Through Day he became part of a circle of pioneering photographers that included Gertrude Kasebier and Alvin Langdon Coburn, and Lee’s family became frequent models.  One of Kasebier’s best-known works, Blessed Art Thou Among Women, is an image of Agnes Rand Lee and daughter Peggy taken at their home in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston.

Lee was the most technically experimental of this circle, and worked with Henry Smith of Pinkham & Smith Company, prescription opticians and
photographic suppliers in Boston, to commission a special soft-focus lens for pictorialist photographers.  The first of its kind in the US, it was inspired by a lens Coburn purchased in England.

In 1910 Francis and Agnes Lee parted ways.  Francis married Marion Lewis Chamberlain, an MIT grad who worked in the fine arts department of the library.  They lived in Walpole, MA and Francis continued working at the library until he retired at the age of 70.


Patricia J. Fanning (2012) Francis Watts Lee: A Reintroduction, History of
Photography, 36:1, 15-32
 (requires academic access)

Further reading:

Patricia J. Fanning: Artful Lives: The Francis Watts Lee Family and Their Times, 2016


Above: Portrait of Francis Watts Lee by Gertrude Kasebier.  Platinum print at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.


Above: Gertrude Kasebier: “Blessed Art Though Among Women.”  The models are Agnes Lee and daughter Peggy Lee at their home in Jamaica Plain.  A platinum print at The Met.

Ralph Adams Cram

Ralph Adams Cram (1863-1942) was an architect and writer based in Boston.  He is best known for his churches and public buildings, which include the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York and key buildings on the campuses of West Point, Princeton U., Rice U., U. of Southern California, and others, and both bridges between Plymouth, MA and Cape Cod.  The Berkeley Building (aka The Old John Hancock) in Boston’s Back Bay was designed by his firm shortly after his death and pays tribute to the style he established. He also served as Head of the Architecture Department at MIT.

Cram grew up in New Hampshire and moved to Boston to pursue architecture, landing a job at a firm with the help of family friends.  He also worked briefly as an art critic for a local newspaper.  After winning a small amount of money in an architecture contest, he traveled to Europe with a close friend.  This trip had a major impact on him– it inspired his lifelong interest in pre-Renaissance art and architecture, and during his visit to Rome he was inspired to convert to Anglo-Catholicism (ie the Church of England, now better know in the US as Episcopalianism).

One of Cram’s heroes was pre-Raphaelite art critic John Ruskin, who advocated a neo-Gothic approach to architecture, applying medieval principles to modern applications.  Cram championed this style in the US, a reaction to the neo-Classical styles he felt had been overused and cheapened here.

In the 1890s Cram was a key figure in Boston’s bohemian scene and a member of the Visionists.  During this time he wrote two books he later described as “indiscretions,” both published by fellow Visionists Copeland and Day.  Black Spirits and White is a book of ghost stories inspired by his travels in Europe.  The Decadent is a dialogue between two Visionist-like characters, one who advocates Christian Socialism and another who argues that Western civilization is in a period of decline (”decadence”) and advocates inaction.

Cram founded an architecture firm in 1889 with partner Charles Francis Wentworth.  Visual artist and architect Bertram Goodhue moved to Boston to work for the firm as a draftsman and later became a partner.  He also became a member of the Visionists.  Both Cram and Goodhue had strong visions of their own, and Goodhue eventually moved on.  In 1913 the firm changed its name to Cram and Ferguson.

In 1916, Cram masterminded an elaborate pageant titled “The Masque of Power” to celebrate MIT’s move from Boston’s Back Back to its current home in Cambridge.  He recruited about 1700 participants in costume and a professional choreographer, and cast himself as Merlin.

Recommended further reading:

My Life in Architecture by Ralph Adams Cram (out of print but check your library)

The Architecture of Ralph Adams Cram and his Firm by Ethan Anthony


Above: Portrait of Ralph Adams Cram by F. Holland Day about 1890.  Print in the Library of Congress.


Above: Ralph Adams Cram on the cover of Time magazine, 1926.


Above: Ralph Adams Cram dressed as Merlin for “The Masque of Power” pageant celebrating MIT’s move to Cambridge, 1916.  From the MIT Museum.

If you are familiar with MIT you may be familiar with this image which hangs in the “Infinite Corridor” as part of a display commemorating the move.