Born: Jan­ua­ry 25, 1835, Flo­ri­da, New York.

Died: Au­gust 30, 1902, at the home of his daug­hter, Mrs. Tho­mas G. Bolles, in Or­ange, New Jer­sey.

Buried: Rose­dale Ce­me­tery, Or­ange, New Jer­sey.


Seward came from a dis­ting­uished fa­mi­ly (Will­iam H. Sew­ard, Sec­re­ta­ry of State to Am­eri­can pre­si­dent Abra­ham Lin­coln, was his se­cond cou­sin).

Theodore at­tend­ed the Nor­mal Mu­sic­al In­sti­tute at North Read­ing, Mas­sa­chu­setts, where he stu­died with Lo­well Ma­son, George Root, and Tho­mas Hast­ings.

He then be­came a pro­fess­or at the Teach­ers’ Col­lege in New York (lat­er merged in­to Co­lum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty).

He lived in Ro­ches­ter, New York (where he mar­ried Mary Cog­ges­hall in 1860), then moved to Or­ange, New Jer­sey, in 1868.

He was su­per­vis­or of mu­sic in the pub­lic schools of Or­ange and sur­round­ing ci­ties, and or­gan­ist and mu­sic­al di­rect­or in se­ver­al church­es. He achieved na­tion­al fame as a com­pos­er, teach­er, ed­it­or of mu­sic pe­ri­od­ic­als, and au­thor of edu­ca­tion­al works.

Among Sew­ard’s ef­forts was col­lect­ing Af­ri­can-Am­eri­can spi­rit­uals, more than a hun­dred of which were pub­lished in Ju­bilee Songs (New York: Big­low & Main), in con­nection with the Fisk Ju­bi­lee Sing­ers, who raised sev­er­al hun­dred thou­sand dollars by their con­certs in Am­er­ica and Europe for their uni­ver­si­ty at Nash­ville, Ten­nes­see. Sew­ard was the group’s mu­sic­al di­rect­or and voice train­er dur­ing their se­cond Eu­ro­pe­an tour.

Seward or­gan­ized the Bro­ther­hood of Chris­tian Uni­ty (1891), the Don’t Wor­ry Club (1897), and the Gold­en Rule Bro­ther­hood (1901).

He tra­veled ex­ten­sive­ly through­out Eur­ope and Am­er­ica. While at the Crys­tal Pal­ace in Lon­don dur­ing Queen Vic­tor­ia’s Gold­en Ju­bi­lee, he was called up­on to lead the sing­ing of God Save the Queen.

He ed­it­ed The New York Mu­sic­al Pio­neer (1864), The New York Mu­sic­al Ga­zette (1867–73), The Ton­ic Sol-fa Ad­vo­cate (1881–85), and Mu­sic­al Re­form (1886–88).