Music Collections, Black
Music Collections, Black
Music Collections, Black
Black music—that is, music composed or performed by people of African descent—is basic to the study of African-American history and culture, and to an understanding of American culture in general. Libraries collect it in all formats and genres, from scores and sheet music of classical compositions for study and performance to recordings of the latest popular music. Black music collections are found in institutions of all sorts, including major research collections, nationally recognized collections devoted to black culture, special-collections departments of college and university libraries, historical societies and museums, music libraries, and public library collections. All have a role in the documentation and study of black music.
Specialized collections exist to preserve the various black music styles, including popular music, blues, and jazz, and to collect the works of black composers. Library collections also document the contributions of African-American performers in broader genres, such as opera and musical theater, and the work of African-American music educators and organizations. Black music collections can be used by researchers not only to study and perform the music itself, but to gain insight into historical and social processes, and to document the broader cultural contributions of African Americans.
Serious documentation of blacks in musical culture began early in the twentieth century with the establishment of library collections devoted to black history. Important special collections have been maintained by the historically black educational institutions, with the holdings of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University, in Washington, D.C., founded in 1914, particularly outstanding. The Schomburg Center for Black History and Culture of the New York Public Library, containing one of the largest black collections, was established in 1926. Another respected research collection, the Amistad Research Center, established at Fisk University in Nashville in 1966, is now located at Tulane University in New Orleans. These three repositories, which cover the broad spectrum of black history and culture, have devoted serious efforts to collecting music materials.
The first publicly accessible collection devoted exclusively to black music and blacks in the performing arts was the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of the Detroit Public Library, founded in 1943. Collections focusing on jazz include the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, founded in 1952, and the William Ransom Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University, founded in 1958. A serious effort to collect and preserve scores by black composers began at the Music Library of Indiana University at Bloomington in 1970. The Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College in Chicago, founded in 1983, opened its Library and Archives in 1992.
National agencies, such as the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., are also important resources, as are general performing-arts collections, such as the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. Popular-music collections such as those at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), Bowling Green State University in Ohio, and Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro are general in scope but do justice to the importance of black popular styles. Specialist repositories, such as the University of Mississippi Blues Archive, the Archive of African American Music and Culture at Indiana University, and various ethnomusicology archives, devote themselves to preserving oral and recorded traditions. The collections of these repositories will be discussed later in greater detail.
Any attempt to describe black music collections in the United States is obsolete almost before it is completed, because collections are constantly growing and backlogs being cataloged, bringing newly processed materials to the attention of scholars. Many libraries now catalog their holdings on national library databases, such as the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) and the Research Libraries Information Network (RLIN), making information available to any researcher who has access to these networks.
Repositories often make their catalogs and finding aids accessible through the Internet as well. The catalogs of some of the major libraries, including the Schomburg and Moorland-Spingarn collections, were published in book form before the library community came to rely on the national online networks. A catalog of the Hackley Collection was published in 1979, and guides to other individual collections have also been published.
Archives often supplement their standard cataloging with online databases. For example, the CBMR Library Database at the Center for Black Music Research in Chicago indexes music, books, dissertations, and vertical-file materials in the CBMR Library and Archives. The Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University has an online database that allows searching of its archival collections, sheet music, song books, and trade catalogs.
Black music is a broad field encompassing many material types, genres, and possible research approaches. In addition to art music in many compositional styles, there are the various genres in the vernacular tradition, including spirituals, jazz, blues, rhythm and blues, gospel, and a number of current popular styles. Music collections tend to concentrate on sheet music and scores, and on recordings in numerous formats, but they also collect ephemera, photographs, periodicals, and other unique documents, including letters, diaries, and music manuscripts, when they exist. Such written documents may be scarce, partly because musicians are often too busy to keep them, and sometimes because the musicians find written means of expression uncongenial. In some cases, especially when the music is itself orally transmitted (blues) or dependent on improvisation for musical effect (jazz, some forms of gospel), libraries may turn to oral history, which ensures the survival of important information while freeing informants from the necessity of creating a written document.
Knowledge of black music is absolutely essential to the study of American popular music. Many general popular-music collections therefore collect black music as part of their larger holdings. Sheet music was the only format for music, popular or otherwise, before the advent of recording technology in the late nineteenth century, and collections of early sheet music tend to make few distinctions between popular and art genres. Such collections include the J. Francis Driscoll Collection at the Newberry Library in Chicago, the Corning Sheet Music Collection of the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and the Lester S. Levy Collection at the Milton S. Eisenhower Library at John Hopkins University. All have substantial holdings of minstrel songs and of nineteenth-century music by black composers or on black topics.
The Sam De Vincent Collection of Illustrated Sheet Music at the Archives Center of the Smithsonian Institution has a large component of black music. There are also sizable collections of popular sheet music at the Archive of Popular American Music at UCLA, and at the Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University. Sheet music of minstrel songs, ragtime, and similar music, including songs by black composers, is highly collectible, and in recent years collectors have donated or sold their holdings to libraries in increasing numbers. Libraries now possessing such collections include the Special Collections Division of the Michigan State University Libraries in East Lansing and the music libraries of the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The American Music Collection of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts has an extensive collection of piano ragtime compositions, and the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library has a collection of minstrel songs and songsters (collections of song lyrics). The Music Division of the Library of Congress retains sheet music deposited for copyright registration.
In addition to the collections named above, two major research repositories, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, have comprehensive collections of sheet music, popular and otherwise, by black composers. Many items in their collections are extremely rare. The Gershwin Memorial Collection at Fisk University contains photographs and other materials about black composers, as well as music. The Hackley Collection at the Detroit Public Library has an impressive sheet-music component. The NCNB Black Musical Heritage Collection in the Special Collections Department of the University of South Florida Library in Tampa contains five thousand pieces of sheet music, much of it popular.
Some repositories have scanned sheet music collections and made them available online. Such collections include Duke University's Historic American Sheet Music website (http://odyssey.lib.duke.edu/sheetmusic/), "Music For the Nation," a part of the American Memory project of the Library of Congress (http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/smhtml) and the African American Sheet Music collection of the John Hay Library at Brown University (http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/award97/rpbhtml/). Not only do online collections make the music instantly available for study and performance, they also provide images of sheet music covers, which are an excellent resource for social historians.
Recordings are the primary source for the study of popular music during the twentieth century. One of the premier collections of popular-music recordings in the United States is in the Music Library and Sound Archives at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. A collection of sound recordings numbering nearly six hundred thousand is supported by a research collection of printed materials, periodicals, and ephemera. The Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State and the Archive of Popular American Music at UCLA both have extensive collections of sound recordings. Finally, the Library of Congress has a department devoted to recordings as part of its Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. Again, these collections are general in scope but contain numerous recordings of black music and black performers. The Center for Black Music Research has collections of commercial recordings covering various genres. Especially important is the Fred Crane Collection, composed of cylinders and discs of black performers and their imitators who recorded before 1920.
Libraries have only begun to collect documentary materials relating to contemporary popular musicians. Indiana University's Archives of African American Music and Culture is a major repository. Collections donated by publicist Karen Shearer and author Phyl Garland contain files on numerous popular musicians, and collections of research materials from Charles Sykes and Nelson George document Motown. Interviews received from author Michael Lydon concern the life and music of soul musician Ray Charles. Oral history interviews with musicians and record producers film Record Row: Cradle of Rhythm & Blues are also in the collection. Collections on black radio, from the likes of Jack "The Rapper" Gibson and bandleader Johnny Otis are a major strength of the archives. The Amistad Research Center has a small collection relating to the rhythm-and-blues singer James Brown (b. 1933), and the Western Historical Manuscript Collection at the University of Missouri–St. Louis has a similar one devoted to the rock-and-roll pioneer Chuck Berry (b. 1926). A collection received from Sue Cassidy Clark at the Center for Black Music Research contains photographs, research files, and recorded interviews with musicians from the early 1970s. The music library at Bowling Green State University collects popular fan magazines and ephemeral publications. The Chicago Public Library's Music Information Center and the Center for Black Music Research keep vertical files on contemporary performers.
Ethnomusicology collections can be useful to researchers in African-American music, because these sources include noncommercial field recordings of traditional music from America and other parts of the world. Study of recordings of African, Afro-Caribbean, and South American music can provide insights into the development of African-American musical forms. African-American folk music, work songs, ballads, dance music, games, and sermons, along with well-known forms such as spirituals and folk blues, must be studied to obtain insights into both popular and classical compositions.
An extensive collection of field recordings of traditional African-American performers can be found at the Archive of Folk Culture at the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress. Since its founding in 1928, a succession of folklorists—including Robert Winslow Gordon, John and Alan Lomax, Herbert Halpert, Zora Neale Hurston, and Laura Bolton—working directly for the archive or for other government agencies have recorded and documented American folk music and culture. Numerous other scholars have contributed additional collections. Among the many African-American musicians who are represented in the collections are Jelly Roll Morton, James P. Johnson, Albert Ammons, Meade "Lux" Lewis and Pete Johnson, Leadbelly (Huddie Ledbetter), and bluesmen Son House, John Hurt, and Muddy Waters. In addition to field recordings, the Archive of Folk Culture collects books, published sound recordings, manuscripts, photographs, and moving-image materials. It publishes an excellent series of commercial recordings based on its holdings, as well as a useful series of bibliographies and finding aids.
The Archives of Traditional Music at Indiana University in Bloomington has field collections of traditional music, spirituals, blues, gospel music, and sermons and tales collected by Natalie Curtis Burlin, Harold Courlander, Richard Dorson, John Hasse, Guy B. Johnson, and John, Alan, and Elizabeth Lomax, among others. It also holds numerous African collections and about forty thousand commercial recordings of blues, jazz, and other musical styles. Two other archives with holdings of commercial as well as field recordings are the Ethnomusicology Archive at UCLA and the Ethnomusicology Archives at the University of Washington, in Seattle, which has few American collections but over fifty collections of field recordings from sub-Saharan Africa. The archive of Folk-ways Records, a company that specializes in commercially issued field recordings, many of them African-American, is at the Smithsonian Institution.
Ethnographic films are another important source of information on traditional music. The Motion Picture Division of the Library of Congress and the Human Studies Film Archives at the Smithsonian Institution have African-American materials, both commercial films and field recordings. The Center for Southern Folklore in Memphis distributes several films on southern folk music and blues, and also holds the Gail Mooney collection of photographs and footage of Delta Bluesmen, and the Rev. W. O. Taylor collection of photographs and film footage of religious events, including one hundred 78-rpm acetate recordings of religious music.
Repositories that specialize in traditional music may concentrate on a specific region. The Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture in Charleston, South Carolina, focuses on the Gullah culture of the Sea Islands. In its holdings are field recordings made in the Sea Islands by Lorenzo Dow Turner and recordings of the Moving Star Hall Singers. The Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill holds both commercial and field recordings of black music in a general collection devoted to southern traditional music. For example, the field recordings of the activist folk musicians Guy and Candie Carawan include recordings of religious music from the Sea Islands, music of the civil rights movement, and gospel music performances. The collection is particularly strong in early blues and gospel and in string-band music, a still-neglected area of study. An interesting component is a group of forty-six wax cylinders recorded on South Carolina's Saint Helena Island in 1928 by folklorist Guy B. Johnson.
Blues is the popular-music form closest to traditional music. The University of Mississippi Blues Archive has not only over twenty thousand sound recordings of blues and related genres, but also the files of Living Blues magazine, the business papers of Trumpet Records, and jazz and gospel session books of Savoy Records, plus collections relating to performers as diverse as B. B. King (b. 1925) and Gertrude "Ma" Rainey (1886–1939). Two major blues collectors have donated collections: Sheldon Harris donated the research files from his book The Blues Who's Who along with periodicals and other historical materials. Gayle Dean Wardlow's collection includes oral histories conducted in the 1960s with several traditional musicians. Other oral-history holdings include interviews made for Living Blues, collections contributed by several blues journalists, and the archive's own oral-history project, carried out with north Mississippi musicians. The Victoria Spivey (1906–1976) papers at the Robert W. Woodruff Library, Emory University document her career as head of her own blues record company. The Chicago Blues Archives at the Music Information Center of the Chicago Public Library has recordings and files on blues musicians, a collection concerning Delmark Records, and a collection of recordings and papers devoted to the annual Chicago Blues Festival, at which many contemporary musicians have performed.
Blues oral-history projects of note include the Bull City Blues oral histories and performances at the North Carolina Division of Archives and History in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the Robert Neff and Anthony Connor Blues Collection of interviews with blues musicians, housed at the Yale University School of Music's Oral History, American Music Project. The History of the Oakland Blues, an ongoing project initiated at the Regional Oral History Office of the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, aims at documenting the blues in Oakland, California.
Gospel Music Collections
There are no repositories devoted exclusively to traditional black religious music or gospel music. The archives of the black colleges that first brought spirituals to a broader public after the Civil War have documented their performing groups: Fisk University has collections relating to the Fisk Jubilee Singers, and the Hampton University Archives has papers of the Hampton Singers, plus field recordings and papers of folklorist Natalie Curtis Burlin. The Adam Knight Spence and John Wesley Work (1873–1925) collection at the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library also contains information about the Fisk Jubilee Singers. A collection devoted to the Wings Over Jordan Choir, including the personal papers of the choir's founder, Rev. Glynn T. Settle, can be found at the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce, Ohio.
The Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has papers, recordings, and sheet music from the Gospel Light Music Store of Philadelphia. Included are original acetate recordings of local gospel groups from the 1950s. The Vivian G. Harsh Collection of the Chicago Public Library has the papers of the Chicago gospel pioneer Lucy Smith, including a sizable collection of gospel sheet music. A small but significant collection concerning the recording career of gospel pioneer Arizona Dranes is at Indiana University's Archives of African American Music and Culture, which also has a collection relating to television producer Bobby Jones and a collection of commercial gospel videos from producer Debbie May, while ethnomusicologist Mellonee Burnim has donated audio and video field recordings of concerts, worship services and interviews documenting gospel music. A research collection an African American religious music compiled by the scholar and performer Bernice Johnson Reagon is in the Archives Center at the Smithsonian.
Gospel sheet music can be found in the holdings of the Schomburg Center, the Center for Black Music Research, and the Library of Congress. Over fifteen hundred pieces of gospel music published by the Martin and Morris Publishing Company of Chicago are in the Chicago Public Library's Music Information Center, while the business records of Martin and Morris, plus sheet music as well, are in the Archives Center at the Smithsonian. The Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University collects gospel songbooks and commercial and field recordings, with a specialty in black shape-note singing and gospel quartets, notably the Fairfield Four and the Four Eagles. The Music Information Center of the Chicago Public Library has videotapes of one hundred programs of the television series Jubilee Showcase (1963–1984), on which most major gospel artists performed. Despite efforts in the last few years, gospel music remains the most under-documented genre of black music. Major collections are held by private collectors, or by the musicians themselves and their families; very few are accessible in libraries.
The situation is much different with jazz. Not only do several specialist repositories and collections exist, but major figures have archives devoted solely to them. For example, papers, business records, photographs, manuscripts, and recordings of Duke Ellington are in the Duke Ellington Collection, housed in the Archives Center of the Smithsonian Institution. Queens College, in New York, holds the Louis Armstrong Archive. Such collections give important figures the emphasis they deserve.
The Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University collects jazz materials in all formats comprehensively. The institute holds the world's most extensive collection of jazz periodicals and maintains a Jazz Oral History Project and a collection of transcriptions of big-band arrangements. Important individuals whose papers are in the Institute's collections include musicians Mary Lou Williams (1910–1981) and James P. Johnson (1894–1955), and jazz historian Leonard Feather.
The William Ransom Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University focuses on New Orleans jazz, with fifty thousand recordings, sheet music, vertical files, and manuscripts. Other New Orleans collections include the New Orleans Jazz Club Collection at the Louisiana State Museum, comprising recordings, sheet music, photographs, and ephemera; and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation Oral History Project, which is housed at the Amistad Research Center and includes interviews with forty-nine New Orleans musicians. The Historic New Orleans Collection houses the collection of the jazz collector and historian William Russell, which includes interviews, photographs, and research materials.
Other cities important in the development of jazz have collections devoted to them. The Jazzmen Project at the Western Historical Manuscript Collection consists of recorded interviews and performances of Saint Louis musicians. Microfilmed scrapbooks of riverboat musicians Eddie Johnson and Elijah Shaw are also available. The Marr Sound Archives of the Miller Nichols Library at the University of Missouri–Kansas City documents Kansas City jazz, and also houses the more general Frank Driggs Jazz Oral History Collection. The Jazz Institute of Chicago has placed its collection at the Chicago Jazz Archive at the University of Chicago. It contains recordings, oral histories, and collections devoted to Chicago musicians. The Chicago Jazz Archive also houses the collection of the jazz collector, producer, and scholar, John Steiner, which includes the business records of Paramount Records. Jazz in New York City is documented in the Otto Hess collection of photographs of jazz events from the 1940s and 1950s (held by the American Music Collection of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts), and by the papers of the New York Jazz Museum at the Schomburg Center. On the West Coast, the Central Avenue Sounds Oral History Project of the UCLA Oral History Program documents Los Angeles's Central Avenue from the 1920s through the 1950s. Notable informants include Art Farmer, Frank Morgan, Buddy Collette, and Melba Liston.
The Amistad Research Center also has papers of the jazz arranger Fletcher Henderson (1897–1952). Henderson's arrangements for Benny Goodman can be found in the American Music Collection of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, which also houses scores of the arranger Sy Oliver (1910–1988). Scores and lead sheets of the trombonist, composer, and arranger, Melba Liston (1926–1999) are at the Center for Black Music Research.
Jazz recordings can also be found in the Maxwell O. Reade Collection in the African-American Music Collection at the University of Michigan, and at the Center for Black Music Research. The Valburn Ellington Collection at the Library of Congress contains ten thousand Duke Ellington recordings, including nearly every commercial recording and hundreds of noncommercial recordings. Another major collection of the recordings of Duke Ellington, numbering over eight hundred commercial recordings and eighty-eight tape recordings (some of them unique), is held by the University of North Texas Music Library.
The Boston University's Mugar Memorial Library specializes in collecting the papers of popular performers. Its jazz-related holdings include collections devoted to Cab Calloway and Ella Fitzgerald. The papers of W. C. Handy, Don Redman, Ronald L. Carter, and Mabel Mercer are at the Schomburg Center. The W. C. Handy Museum in Handy's hometown of Florence, Alabama, also has archival materials.
A relatively new development is the videotaped oral-history interview. The Nathaniel C. Standifer Video Archive of Oral History in the African-American Music Collection at the University of Michigan has over one hundred interviews with major figures, including a number of jazz musicians and classical performers and composers. The Schomburg Center also has a videotaping program aimed at recording musical events and interviews with individuals.
Library collections pertaining to classically trained African-American composers and performers are diverse and sometimes scattered. Before the mid-twentieth century, racial discrimination shunted aspiring black performers and composers into vaudeville and musical theater. As in the case of popular music, materials from the early years of black theater can be found in general theater collections, including the Harvard Theatre Collection, the Theatre Arts Library at the University of Texas at Austin, and the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. The Channing Pollock Theater Collection at Howard University and the Countee Cullen Memorial Collection at Atlanta University Center's Robert W. Woodruff Library specialize in African-American contributions in theater and the performing arts.
Other theater-oriented collections include the Porgy and Bess collection at the African American Music Collection, University of Michigan, which includes files on the original production. Materials on other productions of Porgy and Bess are in the Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute at Ohio State University in Columbus. The Schomburg Center has the papers of theatrical composer Luther Henderson (1919–2003) and actor-songwriter Emmett "Babe" Wallace. The George Peabody Collection at Hampton University consists of four scrapbooks on black music and musicians dating from 1824 to 1921. Scrapbooks of vocalist Sissieretta Jones (1968–1933) are at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center. The Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore has an archive devoted to composer and performer Eubie Blake (1883–1983).
Educators and Organizations
The papers of educators and organizations are of great importance, especially for the time when discrimination prohibited black performers and composers from full participation in mainstream organizations. The papers of George Washington Glover (1873–1986) at the Schomburg Center contain extensive information on the National Association of Negro Musicians (NANM). The Amistad Research Center has the records of two branches of NANM, the Chicago Music Association and the B-Sharp Music Club of New Orleans. Records of NANM and of the Chicago Music Association are also included in the Theodore Charles Stone papers at the Center for Black Music Research, which also houses a separate NANM collection and records of the R. Nathaniel Dett Club, another Chicago-based NANM branch. The Schomburg Center has papers of the educator and composer Blanche K. Thomas and the educator Isabelle Taliaferro Spiller (1888–1974). Additional Spiller materials are at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, which also has papers of Gregoria Fraser Goins (1883–1964), prominent in several musical organizations in Washington, D.C., and records of the Washington Conservatory of Music. The papers of the National Opera Association are at the Library of Congress, and the papers of Opera/South, an African-American opera company that premiered eight operas by black composers, including William Grant Still and Ulysses Kay, are in the Henry T. Sampson Library at Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi. The Center for Black Music Research has the records of the Society of Black Composers, a group active in New York in the the early 1970s.
When it comes to archival collections of classical composers and performers, the major research collections have extensive holdings. The Music Division of the Library of Congress has correspondence and manuscripts of several black composers and performers. Outstanding examples include two manuscripts of William Grant Still's (1895–1978) Afro-American Symphony (1930) and manuscripts of several early works by Ulysses Kay (1917–1995). An in-house card file compiled by Walter E. Whittlesey, a library staff member, covers from around 1900 through the 1930s and serves as an adjunct to the library's catalogs and copyright records. Researchers have found it extremely useful as a guide to information about otherwise obscure individuals.
The Schomburg Center has the records of the Symphony of the New World, and of Mary Cardwell Dawson (1894–1962), founder of the National Negro Opera Company (1941), plus the papers of the composers Edward Boatner (1898–1981) and Clarence Cameron White (1880–1960). Classical performers documented at the Schomburg Center include Marion Cumbo, Lawrence Brown, Melville Charlton, and Philippa Duke Schuyler.
The Amistad Research Center has also documented African-American performers and composers. The papers of the composer Howard Swanson (1907–1978) are primarily music manuscripts; there are also collections relating to the composers Roger Dickerson (b. 1934) and Hale Smith (b. 1925). Collections pertaining to performers include papers of Carol Brice, Camilla Williams, Mattiwilda Dobbs, William Warfield, and Jessie Covington Dent.
Collections dealing with individual performers are also scattered in other repositories. At least three have collections on the actor and singer Paul Robeson (1898–1976): The Moorland-Spingarn Research Center has the bulk of Robeson's papers, but there are also collections of Robeson materials at the Schomburg Center and at the Charles L. Blockson Collection at Temple University in Philadelphia. The Hackley Collection received the papers of the tenor Roland Hayes (1887–1977) in 1989. The Marian Anderson (1897–1993) papers are in the Annenberg Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The Center for Black Music Research has a collection on the operatic baritone Ben Holt (1955–1990), and the Wendell G. Wright Collection, which includes recordings of a long-running concert series that featured many prominent performers. Hampton University Archives has a collection relating to the soprano Dorothy Maynor (1910–1996). Scrapbooks and papers of the singer Todd Duncan (1903–1998) are in the African American Music Collection at the University of Michigan. The papers of the pianist and author Maude Cuney Hare (1874–1936) are at the Atlanta University Center's Robert W. Woodruff Library. They also contain biographical information on other African-American composers and musicians.
Documenting the early years of African-American composition can be problematic, because so few materials have survived the passage of time. Fortunately, some manuscript materials from the nineteenth century have survived. These include a manuscript music book and sheet music of black bandleader and composer Francis Johnson (1792–1844), at the Library Company of Philadelphia, and a Johnson holograph manuscript at the Library of Congress.
Ragtime collections appear to consist mainly of sheet music and recordings, including piano rolls made by the composers. James Scott (1885–1938), Scott Joplin (1868–1917), and John William "Blind" Boone (1864–1927) are documented in the ragtime collection at State Fair Community College in Sedalia, Missouri. The State Historical Society of Missouri also has collections relating to Boone and Joplin. A Joplin collection at Fisk University contains correspondence about the composer by his wife and others. The Scott Joplin House State Historic Site in St. Louis has piano rolls that were recorded by Joplin.
Papers and manuscripts of individual composers are to be found in numerous repositories. Papers of H. T. Burleigh (1866–1949) can be found at the Erie County Historical Society in Erie, Pennsylvania, and at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in Harrisburg. Three repositories have papers of R. Nathaniel Dett (1882–1943), including the Archives at Hampton University, with which he was associated for many years; the University Archives and Historical Collections at Michigan State University; and the Local History Department of the Niagara Falls Public Library, in Niagara Falls, New York. Papers and manuscripts of John Wesley Work III (1901–1967) are at Fisk University, which also has papers of composers Julia Perry (1924–1979) and Arthur Cunningham (1928–1997). The papers of J. Rosamond Johnson (1873–1954) are in the Music Library at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Manuscripts and published arrangements by N. Clark Smith (1877–1935) are in the Miller Nichols Library of the University of Missouri in Kansas City. Papers and scores of William Levi Dawson are in Special Collections and Archives at the Robert W. Woodruff Library, Emory University, and music manuscripts of the singer and composer Julius (Jules) Bledsoe (1898–1943) are in the Texas Collection at Baylor University. The music manuscripts of Edmund Thornton Jenkins (1894–1926), unlocated for years, are now at the Center for Black Music Research.
The Special Collections Department of the University of Arkansas Libraries has the papers of two major twentieth-century composers, Florence Price (1887–1953) and William Grant Still (1895–1978). Still materials can also be found in the Special Collections Library at Duke University. The Center for Black Music Research has papers of the composers James Furman (1937–1989), Lee V. Cloud (1950–1995), Talib Rasul Hakim (1940–1988), Irene Britton Smith (1907–1999), Richard C. Moffat (1927–1983), William Banfield (b. 1961), and Leslie Adams (b. 1932). Composers represented in the Center's extensive collections of scores include David Baker, Ed Bland, Glenn Burleigh, Wallace Cheatham, Mark Fax, Wendell Logan, Joyce Solomon Moorman, Jeffrey Mumford, Robert Owens, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, Daniel Roumain, Gregory Walker, and Michael Woods. The Eva Jessye Collection is a major component of the African-American Music Collection at the University of Michigan, and Jessye (1895–1992) materials can also be found at the Amistad Research Center of Tulane University. The Special Collections Department at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas, has a sizable amount of Jessye's correspondence and manuscripts, as well as photographs, interviews, and recordings of her folk oratorio Paradise Lost and Regained.
Mention should also be made of other personal collections of great research value. The James Weldon Johnson Collection in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale covers black music extensively, and it contains holograph scores by several African-American composers. The American Music Research Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder, has music by black women composers collected and donated by Helen Walker-Hill, a prominent scholar and bibliographer in the field. Walker-Hill's research papers on black women composers, along with duplicate scores, are at the Center for Black Music Research. The Center also has the papers and research materials of three pioneering scholars of black music: Dena J. Epstein (b. 1916), Dominique-René de Lerma (b. 1928) and Eileen Southern (1920–2002).
Archival collections documenting composers perform two functions: They provide materials for the study of an individual's life and times, as well as for the study of his or her music, including analysis of the compositional process. They point to obstacles and triumphs, and to the uniqueness of the African-American contribution to American music. The names of many libraries and of many individuals have been mentioned above, attesting to the preservation of African-American music materials in publicly accessible repositories. The tragedy—for the study of black music and American music, and for recognition of the importance of the African-American heritage—is in the names that are missing: names of important composers whose works are scattered or destroyed, or are still inaccessible in private hands; and names of performers who never made recordings or whose scrapbooks and letters are missing or destroyed, whose contributions therefore will never be completely recognized.
See also Archival Collections; Blues, The; Fisk University; Folk Music; Gospel Music; Howard University; Jazz; Music in the United States; Music Museums and Historical Sites; National Association of Negro Musicians; Opera; Schomburg, Arthur
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