Editor’s Note — As part of Women’s History Month, Nebraska Today is featuring female Huskers — from the past to current day — who have made or are making impacts on campus. Today, we’re highlighting Carrie Belle Raymond, a faculty member who helped establish the School of Music and contributed to the cultural life of Lincoln.
One of the most prominent University of Nebraska faculty in the early 1900s, Carrie Isabelle Raymond was a beloved member of the Lincoln community and served as director of university chorus and vocal ensemble. Her work on campus helped establish program traditions that grew into today’s Glenn Korff School of Music.
Carrie Isabelle Rice, the youngest of four, was born in South Valley, New York, on July 3, 1857 to Edgar and Francis Rice. She developed an early interest in music, learning to play the reed organ at age 10 and playing her church’s pipe organ by 14. She studied piano and organ in Brooklyn, New York, and moved to Washington, D.C., where she taught music and developed as a professional organist.
Based on newspaper records, she most likely moved to Lincoln in 1885. She met Peter Voris M. Raymond in Lincoln, and the two were married within a year. In November 1886, Raymond joined First Congregational Church and became the church’s first organist when its new building was dedicated on Jan. 9, 1887.
Raymond helped develop a successful community May Festival, established the Lincoln Oratorio, and, by the summer of 1892, directed the music of the Crete Chautauqua. She became well respected for her ability organize performances and arrange music to match whatever instruments were available.
Raymond began her career at the University School of Music in the 1890s as a faculty member. She took on the dual director role in 1894 at the request of Chancellor James Canfield.
During her tenure, Raymond established the University Chorus and directed the University Orchestra. In her early years, Raymond — who prepared choruses and instrumental groups — invited men to conduct for public performances. After 1891, she directed orchestra and chorus performances herself.
For her service to the local community and state, Raymond received the Kiwanis Club of Lincoln’s Distinguished Service medal in 1923. The Kiwanis program highlighted her many accomplishments, including an ability to draw some of the best national orchestras to Lincoln and using those opportunities to expand instruction of students.
Raymond’s service to the university and community continued until her death on Oct. 3, 1927.
Following her death, the Carillon Tower at First Plymouth Congregational Church was dedicated in Raymond’s memory. The university also honored her legacy with the naming of the first women’s dormitories as Raymond Hall in 1932. Today, Raymond Hall is part of the Neihardt Residence Hall complex.