Humble Beginnings

A Humble Beginning: 1930-1963

In the late 1930s, the first formal band was organized at The Florida State College for Women under the leadership of Charlotte Cooper, Jean Hitchcolk, Allie Ludlaw, and director Owen F. Sellars. With less than twenty students, the band made its first performance at the Odds and Evens intramural football game on Thanksgiving Day 1939. The following December, the Florida Flambeau ran an advertisement announcing try-outs for the first formal band, which was officially organized in1941.

In 1942, Frank Sykora became the Interim Director while Director Sellars took a three year military leave during World War II. This same year the first uniforms were purchased and first worn for the inauguration of the new college president, Doak S. Campbell.

Marching band was first offered as a course for credit in1946. The year 1947 saw FSCW become the coeducational Florida State University. The band also became coed, and began its long relationship with the football team in a five game season. Robert Smith took over the band and rehearsals were held on Landis Green.

In 1949, Robert T. Braunagel became the new band director. After a newspaper survey sponsored by the University Student Government Association, the marching band officially adopted the title, Marching Chiefs. The bands first appearance as the Marching Chiefs was at Stetson University.

In 1953, Dr. Manley R. Whitcomb of Ohio State University joined the FSU faculty and assumed the position of Director. When Dr. Whitcomb came south, he brought with him a talented young arranger, Charles Carter. This combination began the long tradition of Marching Chiefs as seen on the field today. Whitcomb instituted fast marching tempos, a high step with arm swing known as Chiefs Step, and introduced the concept of marching eight step to five yards.

In 1949-50, the Seminole football team appeared in a postseason bowl game for the first time at the Cigar Bowl in Tampa. An FSU Band was also in attendance thus marking our first bowl game appearance. In 1954, the Seminole football team earned a bid to play in a postseason bowl game at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, and the Miami Daily News proclaimed, “FSU’s bid to Sun Bowl clinched by Marching Chiefs” (December 5, 1954). After the chartering of Kappa Kappa Psi at FSU in the Spring of 1955, the brothers published the first issue of the Chieftain that fall. Its purpose was to keep band members informed of upcoming events and activities. J. Dayton Smith’s The Hymn to the Garnet and the Gold was arranged for band by Charlie Carter in 1956. The Hymn made its first appearance at Homecoming (as performed by the Marching Chiefs) in 1958. Numerous traditions surrounding the Hymn and the Chiefs first appeared during these years, and continue to the present day.