Armin Hand photograph collection [graphic], ca. 1890-1910


Finding Aid for the Collection at the Chicago History Museum, Research Center

Rev. by D. Rinder, 2008


Copyright 2008, Chicago Historical Society, 1601 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60614-6038


Title: Armin Hand photograph collection [graphic]

Main entry: Hand, Armin F., 1882?-1966

Inclusive dates: ca. 1890-1910

Size: 2 boxes (photographs, photograph album, postcards)

Accession #: 1980.0122

Call #: 1980.0122 PPL


Description of the collection:

John A. Hand was a popular band leader in turn of the century Chicago. He was born on October 26, 1828 (or 1831) in Wardern on Moselle, Prussia. He emigrated to the United States at the age of 20 and arrived at Chicago on November 4, 1851. Upon his arrival John A. Hand worked in a planing mill but he soon turned to music for a livelihood. His career was interrupted due to the outbreak of the Civil War in which he enlisted as a bugle boy in the 24th Illinois Band. He remained in his adopted country's service throughout the war.


In 1869 John A. Hand formed his own orchestra and again embarked on his career which was destined to make his band the toast of Chicago's socialites. He played at many of society's events such as the weddings of General Phil Sheridan, Potter Palmer, George M. Pullman, Arthur Caton (who married Mrs. Marshall Field, Sr.) and a host of others. His band also played at the Columbian Exposition.


Mr. Hand also initiated public concerts in Chicago's parks which were supported by public subscriptions until he received a contract from the park board. From these subscriptions for concerts money was received from such notables as the original Marshall Field, the Armours and the Swifts.


John A. Hand was married and had five children, three sons and two daughters. His eldest (probably) son John Crear Arthur was a music teacher in Las Vegas, New Mexico, where he died. Another son, Arthur, was a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The third son, Armin F. was to become the director of his father's band upon his retirement. John A. Hand's wife died in 1905 while he was directing a dance at the Onsentsia Club. He never fully recovered from the shock of her death. He followed her to death on October 18, 1916, after a couple of years of decline in health.


Prior to John A. Hand's death son Armin (who was born in 1882 probably) became the director of the Johnny Hand Band (later to be called Hand's Band). He had been a student of music under his father and also under John Philip Sousa. At the age of seventeen he had begun conducting his father's band.


He played most of the national political conventions held in Chicago. And at the 1912 Bull Moose convention he received an ivory, gold and ebony baton from Theodore Roosevelt. With the coming of World War I Armin gave up his band to enlist in the Navy and he became Sousa's first assistant in the 350-piece Great Lakes Naval Training Station Band. In order to start a band after the war he borrowed $2500 from General Charles Gates Dawes which enabled him to begin his career again. This band played, amongst other places, in amusement parks and in the silent movie houses of Chicago.


Armin F. Hand became a leading military bandmaster. Under his directorship the Chicago Board of Trade Band of the American Legion won two national championships in Legion competition. He also once won the national championship of the Veterans of Foreign War competition. For a time his band was appointed the official band of the City of Chicago.


Armin Hand also played for many Chicago sporting events including the All-Star baseball and football games and ballgames played by the Chicago Cubs, Bears and Cardinals. For many years he played at the Chicago Society Horse Show and The International Livestock and Horse Show. Following his father's example, Armin frequently played and was a leading attraction in outdoor concerts in Grant Park, amongst other parks. During his lifetime he played command performances for Presidents Wilson, Taft, McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt.


Included in the many honors received by Armin Hand were three commissions from the State of Illinois. The first was received on December 28, 1934, as a Colonel Aide on the Personal Staff of the Governor. The second was as a Second Lieutenant First Infantry in the Illinois Reserve Militia on April 3, 1944. The final one was as a First Lieutenant of Infantry in the Illinois Reserve Militia on November 20, 1945.


In 1909 Armin Hand had eloped with Elizabeth Regneri, a pretty singer with his father's band. She died in July, 1964. Armin died two and a half years later on December 23, 1966. He was survived by two sons, Armin F. Jr., and John A., and a daughter Mrs. Rita Casten.


Armin F. Hand, Jr. has followed in the musical footsteps of his father and grandfather. He, too, is a bandleader and plays at the Chicago Bears football games and other social and civic events. His hope is that his son, Armin III, will continue the family's musical tradition.


Includes visual material relating to the life and career of Chicago musical conductor Hand.


Related materials at Chicago History Museum, Research Center, include the Armin Hand collection of visual materials (1989.0163) and the Armin Hand papers.


Gift of Edwin B. Hadfield, 1979 (1980.0122).


Storage: Box Lot (2 12 x 15 in. boxes)


List of online catalog headings:

Hand, Armin F. 1882?-1966.

Chicago Board of Trade Band.

Hand's Band (Chicago, Ill.)

Conductors (Music) -- Illinois -- Chicago.

Music -- Illinois -- Chicago.

Bands (*Music.








Chicago (Ill.) -- Social life and customs.

Chicago (Ill.) -- Biography.

Panoramic photographs.

Photographic prints.



Container list of box and folder numbers and titles:

Box 1

One album of photographs for the Army-Navy "E" Production Award, Harper-Wyman Company, July 13, 1944.


Three panorama photographs: Sousa and his band, Willow Grove Park, 1920 season; Great Lakes Band, Battalion War Exposition,Grant Park, Sept. 15, 1918; Official Band of the Elevator Operators and Starters Local Union, 1936.


Box 2

Photographs of bands conducted by Armin Hand

1 American Legion Band

2 Armin Hand, portraits

3 Band formations at Great Lakes

4 Band marching in Denver

5 Board of Trade Band

6 Hand's Orchestral Band, 1919

7 Miscellaneous photographs

8 Portraits: J. P. Sousa, John Kuhn, Wesley Barry, unidentified

9 Duplicate photographs

10 Negatives