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Iva Dee Hiatt papers

Identifier: CA-MS-00281

Scope and Contents

The Iva Dee Hiatt papers contains biographical information about early and family life, diaries, correspondence, pilot logs, photographs, programs, newspaper articles and press releases, lectures, class notes, slides, performance audio tapes school memorabilia, and trophies.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1890 - 1980


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Smith College retains copyright of materials created as part of its business operations; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by Smith College, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

Iva Dee Hiatt was born in Indiana to John H. and Ester Miessner Lindley on Sept. 19, 1919, raised by a doctor before being adopted by Fred W. and Iva Lindley Hiatt, her aunt and uncle who lived in Berkeley in 1923. At the age of 16, Hiatt entered the University of California at Berkeley where she was an honor graduate, receiving a Masters in Music in 1941. She was a pupil of Ernest Bloch, Roger Sessions, Randall Thompson, Edward Lawton, Arthur Bliss, and Manfred Bukofzer, and was chosen first chorister of the University of California Chorus. By the time Hiatt was twenty one she had her pilot's license. Before coming to Smith in 1948, Hiatt taught at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the University of California Extension Division Music School, where she founded the Berkeley Chamber Singers in 1946-48 which premiered works by Aaron Copland and Stravinsky. Hiatt was the first woman to conduct the Orquestra Sinfonica Nacional of Mexico, the first woman and choral conductor to conduct a work for chorus and orchestra at Tanglewood, first woman to be an associate professor of music at Harvard Summer School, and the first woman to be the director of Choral Music at Smith College.

During Hiatt's 31 years as a teacher at Smith, she designed the choral system, created the Christmas Vespers program, and founded the Smith College Chamber Singers which earned numerous awards during its more than 20 concert tours abroad. She also took the Smith Glee club to Boston's Symphony Hall for Pops concerts, to Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, and Philharmonic Hall in New York City, and to Washington D.C to sing with the National Symphony Orchestra. Hiatt also established the tradition of student choral conducting that continues to provide early training for Smith conductors.

Hiatt was a teacher who "provided a distinguished model of purpose and achievement," according to one student. Her door was always open to students, sharing music and a belief in their capabilities. For all her accomplishments and efforts, Hiatt was awarded the Smith College Medal in May of 1979.

Among her other achievements, Hiatt was music director of the Cambridge Society for Early Music from 1965 to 1977, and founder and music director of the Choral Institute in Johnson, VT. She received an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Music, from New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and an Award for Outstanding Service for her assistance to the International Communication Agency of the State Department in advancing understanding and good will between people of the U.S and people of other countries.

Hiatt died at Cooley Dickinson Hospital on January 5, 1980 after a two year battle with A.L.S. (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis).


23.521 linear feet (19 containers)

Language of Materials



Iva Dee Hiatt was Professor of Music at Smith College. The collection contains biographical material, course material, correspondence, performance material, audio tapes and photographs.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

As a preservation measure, researchers must use digital copies of audiovisual materials in this collection. Please consult with Special Collections staff or email to request the creation of and access to digital copies.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Iva Dee Hiatt papers were donated over a period of time to the Smith College Archives from a variety of sources.

Processing Information

Please note that prior to 2018, folder inventories were not always updated when new material was added to the collection. As a result, folder inventories may not be complete and folder numbers may be incorrect.

Finding aid to the Iva Dee Hiatt papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Finding aid prepared by Kate Deviny, Ellice Amanna
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2019-03-12: Updated container information and re-published.
  • 2019-12-06: Added boxes, barcoded, updated finding aid

Repository Details

Part of the Smith College Archives Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063