Skip to main content

E. H. Butler Library, Buffalo State, The State University of New York

Archives & Special Collections: Dett, Dr. Robert Nathaniel



The Monroe Fordham Regional History Center

Personal Papers: Dett, Dr. Robert Nathaniel

The name of Dr. Robert Nathaniel Dett, noted composer, conductor, pianist, poet, and educator, who died in Battle Creek, Michigan on October 2, 1943, only nine days before his 61st birthday, will always have a special significance for the music world. At the time of his death he had become a figure of international prominence through his compositions and the singing groups which he directed. He had also been an inspiration to countless students of music, the most prominent of whom is Miss Dorothy Major, celebrated soprano, who studied with Dr. Dett when she was a student at Hampton Institute. 

Dr. Dett, youngest of the three sons of Robert Tue and Charlotte Johnson Dett, was born in Drummondsville, Ontario, Canada, on October 11, 1882. He was a Presbyterian and a Republican. On December 27, 1916, he married Miss Helen Elise Smith, pianist of New York, who later was a music instructor at Hampton Institute and at Bennett College. They had two children, Mrs. Henry Noyes (Helen Dett), a graduate of Bennett College, and Miss Josephine Elizabeth Dett, who attended Bennett College and Hampton Institute, and one granddaughter.

Downloadable Finding-Aid and Inventory

Dr. Robert Nathaniel Dett

Image of Dr. Robert Nathaniel Dett

Buffalo State logo
E. H. Butler Library, SUNY Buffalo State
1300 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, NY 14222
Phone: (716) 878 6300
Fax: (716) 878-3134
Accessibility Policy