Pipe Organ Database

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Joseph Chapline, (Organs) View Extant Instruments View Instruments


Pennsylvania, 1953-1985; Newbury, New Hampshire, 1985-1989.
Classification: Builder

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December 18, 2018:

From Builders editor Charles Eberline, July 4, 2018. -

Joseph Chapline was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on August 2, 1920. In 1942 he graduated from Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, with degrees in history and political science. From 1942 to 1947 he was a research associate in mathematics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.1 Shortly after World War II he helped develop BINAC and ENIAC, two of the earliest computers, and mastered the craft of technical writing so he could produce a manual on how to operate and maintain the ENIAC. He taught over 200 classes in technical writing.2

In 1953 Chapline became organist and choir director of the Unitarian Church in Germantown, Pennsylvania. In 1964 he established Chapline Organs after a tour of organ factories in Germany. During his career as an organbuilder, he built 15 organs and rebuilt 15 others.3 He retired as musical director of the Unitarian Church of Germantown in 1983 and moved to Newbury, New Hampshire. For the next 18 years he served as organist and choirmaster at St. Paul-s Episcopal Church in Concord, New Hampshire. He later served as organist and choirmaster in other worshipping communities, including Jewish synagogues and Protestant and Roman Catholic churches, until he retired from a position as organist at Trinity Episcopal Church in Claremont, New Hampshire, in 2009 at the age of 89. Joseph Chapline died on August 8, 2011, in Newbury, New Hampshire.4


  1. Uwe Pape, comp. and ed., The Tracker Organ Revival in America/Die Orgelbewegung in Amerika (Berlin: Pape Verlag, n.d. [c. 1978], 414; obituary, Concord (New Hampshire) Monitor, August 11, 2011, in "Joseph Durrell Chapline, Jr,” Find a Grave, accessed June 13, 2018, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/75352806/joseph-durrell-chapline
  2. Obituary.
  3. Obituary. Pape, Tracker Organ Revival, 414, states, "1953-63 Built several organs privately,” but the obituary gives the date 1964 for the beginning of his organbuilding activity.
  4. Obituary.

We received the most recent update for this note from Database Manager on February 11, 2019.

October 30, 2004:

From the OHS PC Database, derived from A Guide to North American Organbuilders, by David H. Fox (Richmond, Va.: Organ Historical Society, 1991; rev. ed., 1997, with updated information). -

Born August 2, 1920, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; organist, 1936-1953; installer assistant and maintenance assistant, 1938-1942; graduate of Ursinus College, 1942; research associate in mathematics, University of Pennsylvania, 1942-1947; computer scientist, 1947-1964; built several organs, 1953-1963; established Chapline Organs, in Philadelphia area, 1964; in Newbury, New Hampshire, c. 1986; active in 1989. [The 1997 revised edition of David Fox-s Guide updates "active in 1989” to "active 1996.” -Ed.]


  • American Institute of Organbuilders (AIO), 1989 membership directory.
  • Uwe Pape, The Tracker Organ Revival in America, (Berlin: Pape Verlag, 1978), 414.
  • William T. Van Pelt.

We received the most recent update for this note from Database Manager on April 29, 2019.

Database Specs:

  • 13 Organs
  • 0 Divisions
  • 0 Consoles

This builder has been viewed 309 times.