200 North Main Street | Bloomington, Illinois | 309-827-0428

Goforth Collection

Processed by: Judith Myers, April 2013


  1. Collection Information
  2. Historical Sketch
  3. Photographs
  4. Scope and Content Note
  5. Box and Folder Inventory
Collection Information

Volume: 1 box
Dates: 1882 and approx. 1906 to 1994
Restrictions: Some brittle documents. Use photocopies unless authorized by Librarian/Archivist
Reproduction: Permission to reproduce or publish material in this collection must be obtained in writing from the McLean County Museum of History
Location: Archives

Historical Sketch

J.C. Goforth moved his family from Canton, Illinois to Bloomington, Illinois in 1903. He and his four sons were all musicians.

This collection concentrates on the careers of two sons; George C. Goforth who was a popular orchestra leader in the 1920s,1930s, and 1940s, and Earl Goforth who was an orchestra leader of that period and also had a successful career as a blackface vaudeville comedian for some years before that. He and his wife were a team known as Goforth and Doyle.

Other items relating to the Goforth family are included in the collection such as personal letters, family genealogy items, obituaries, and fan mail from George Goforth's days on Chicago radio station WLS as an orchestra leader of the Black and Gold Orchestra.

Scope and Contents Note

The Goforth collection consists of 1 box and 16 folders plus 4 scrapbooks containing material from about 1906 to the 1950s. Items in the collection include newspaper clippings, personal letters, fail mail, copies of family obituaries, and scrapbooks.

Box and Folder Inventory
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(all folders must be closed for "Show/Hide All" to function properly)

Folder 1
1.1 Newspaper Clipping: Mr. and Mrs. Goforth honored by Soldiers' Orphans' Home, 10-28-1928
1.2 Newspaper photo of J.C. Goforth, undated
1.3 March 20, 1904 letter to Charley from J.C. Goforth, 1 page
1.4 March 20, 1904 letter to Ralph from J.C. Goforth, 2 pages
1.5 March 20, 1904 letter to Ralph from "Aunt Siss," 2 pages
1.6 October 31, 1924 letter to Charley and family from JCG, 3 pages
Folder 2
2.1 Newspaper clipping, undated, about December 28, letter from Jessie Goforth to J.C. Goforth on 1st anniversary of arrival in Phillipines
Folder 3
3.1 Jan. 28, 1973 newspaper clipping, "Young champions determined in city City billiards, table tennis"
3.2 Undated newspaper and clipping, photo and caption
3.3 8/20/1978 Holy Trinity Church program
3.4 10/15/1940 Cradle Roll Promotion Certificate
Folder 4
4.1 January 1994 Biography
4.2 June 8, 1941 newspaper clipping, "Dr. Goforth Gets Degree"
4.3 June 11, 1941 newspaper clipping with photo
4.4 July 8, 1942 newspaper clipping, "Dr. E.G. Goforth Named Lieutenant," with photo
4.5 March 9, 1944 newspaper clipping, "Medics at Front Have Tough Job, Says Captain"
4.6 Undated newspaper clipping, "Army Medics Praised Highly by Veteran" with photo
4.7 October 15, 1950 newspaper clipping, "Dr. Goforth Speaker for Washington PTA" with photo
Folder 5
5.1 October 31, 1945 annual charter of Boy Scouts of America (2 copies)
5.2 July 27, 1944 certificate o#1473 of National Association of Rudimental Drummers
5.3 September 1973 certificate of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine
5.4 April 8, 1997 certificate of Knights Templar Eye Foundation, Inc
5.5 June 24, 1998 certificate of Wade Barney Lodge No. 512, Grand Lodge of A.F. & A.M.
5.6 January 23, 1925 Report Card, Grade 3-B
Folder 6
6.1 Nov. 1, 1934 Extract from the Records of West Point Academy
6.2 20 pieces of correspondence (including cards) dated between 1946 and 1981 from John L. Thomas to his sister Louise Goforth
Folder 7
7.1 Two letters from Raymond and Mary Alice Thomas to Louise and Austin Goforth, dated 10/17/1984 and 11/4/1986
7.2 Ten letters from Eunice Cook to Louise and Austin Goforth, dated between 1981 and 1988
7.3 One letter from "Dave" to Aunt Louise and Uncle Austin Goforth and their son George, dated Dec. 5, 1987
Folder 8
8.1 Undated clipping "Earl Goforth and his Band To Play at Country Club" with photo and caption
8.2 Undated front and back 8 1/2" x 11" sheet with photo of "South Goforth and His Florida Swingsters" on one side and clippings about Earl Gofoth's Orchestra on the other side
8.3 Undated clipping "Off to the War-1917" drawing
8.4 Undated "How Time Flies" article about 1927 appearance by Earl Goforth
8.5 Undated obituary for Earl Goforth
8.6 26-page draft "Music in Bloomington before the Talkies" by Minor Myers, Jr. Dated July 28, 1990
8.7 October 11, 1990 letter from J. Austin Goforth to Minor Myers, Jr. regarding Draft referred to in 8.6
Folder 9
9.1 Culver Black Horse Troop" music for several band instruments
9.2 Price List of Springfield Musicians Association, 1932
9.3 Two copies of 1939 photo Christmas card
9.4 Nine newspaper articles about George Goforth's musical career
9.5 10 "How Time Flies" newspaper articles about George Goforth's orchestra
9.6 Three "Back Then" newspaper articles, 1997, mentioning George Goforth's orchestra
9.7 "Letters to the Editor" letter from J. Austin Goforth
9.8 Bill Flick column mentioning George Goforth's Black and Gold Orchestra
9.9 Photo clipping of George C. Goforth & his Gold Orchestra
9.10 Undated and unidentified photo of marching band
9.11 Undated newspaper photo clipping of orchestra members
9.12 1946 Bloomington Band schedule of concerts
Folder 10
10.1 Jan. 16, 1974 newspaper clipping "Back to Bongo Park"
10.2 Mar. 19, 1979 newspaper clipping "Memories of the '20s: Big bands at Bongo" with photo of pavilion at Bongo Park
10.3 June 30, 1996 Pantagraph clipping "(Back Then) Bongo Park scene of the 4th" by Gene Smedley, with photo (2 copies)
Folder 11
11.1 Nine photocopied pages of obits of various near and distant relative of the Goforth family, most of which are undated
11.2 Funeral obit with photo of Mrs. Mary J. Gay
11.3 Funeral notice for Maud Alice Smith
11.4 Funeral notice for Emma Dora Gay
11.5 Funeral notice for Byron Farmer
11.6 Obit of Eugene Goforth
11.7 Obit of George C. Goforth
11.8 Obit of J. Austin Goforth
Folder 12
12.1 Twenty-one pieces of family genealogical information
12.2 1882-3 autograph book belonging to Anna Berdine, Farmington, IL
Folder 13
13.1 35 Postcards, 1926, praising "Corn Huskers" On WLS Radio Station
Folder 14
14.1 35 Letters from around the U.S., praising "Corn Huskers" on WLS Radio Station, 1926-27
Folder 15
15.1 50 Letters from around the U.S., praising "Corn Huskers" on WLS Radio Station, 1926-27
Folder 16
16.1 Typed recipe for caramel apples
Folder 17
1 Contains numerous pages with ads of many vaudeville acts with photos and descriptions of performances. The final 20 pages contain newspaper clippings of reviews of the performances of "Goforth and Doyle," Earl Goforth and Bella Doyle. They were popular as a vaudeville team in the early 1900's. These clippings are dated from 1904-1907
Folder 18
1 39 pages of newspaper clippings (plus a number of loose clippings) of performances of "The Hamilton Sisters," a circus aerial act of the 1920s. The two sisters are Ethel and Agnes Marine
Folder 19
1 About 60 pages of newspaper clippings, playbills, and photos of the Earl Goforth Orchestra. Included are a few items about the George Goforth Orchestra, and some items about Earl Goforth in his black-face comedian act. Dates from 1927 to 1955
Folder 20
1 About 70 pages of newspaper clippings of vaudeville act Goforth and Doyle in which Earl Goforth is a blackface comedian. His wife, Bella, is the other half of the act. Also included are clippings about George Goforth and his orchestra