“Revealing Her Story: Documenting African American Women Intellectuals” is a two-year project funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission to arrange and describe the personal papers of nine African American women writers, artists and musicians. Collections included in the project are the Pearl Cleage papers; additions to the Delilah Jackson papers; the Samella S. Lewis papers; the Almena Lomax papers; the May Miller papers; the Undine Smith Moore papers; the Geneva Southall papers; the Mildred Thompson papers; and the Sarah E. Wright papers. To read the press release announcing the project, click here.
Dr. Geneva Southall was her own archivist. The printed material series speaks volumes to this fact. A large portion of the series consists of her participation in the National Association of Negro Musicians. This historic organization was founded in Chicago in 1919 and is the country’s oldest organization dedicated to the preservation, encouragement and advocacy of all genres of the music of African Americans.
The organization is still thriving with its Annual Convention happening this July in Los Angeles, California. Southall served tirelessly on the Board and as the director of the Youth Scholarship Competition Committee. I imagine her carefully collecting a program each year, bringing it back to her home and placing it safely in her office. She did this twenty-one times, with the series containing programs and agendas from 1979 – 2001.
Every year, she traveled to cities all over the United States to gather and network with her peers and to ensure that young musicians had an opportunity to perform and win prestigious scholarships. Her contributions are still felt today. While browsing the website of the organization, she is listed on the “About Us” page as one of the noted clinicians that have been a part of its ninety-five year history.
The printed material series also highlights Southall as a noted researcher and scholar with extensive research notes and essays on the Fisk Jubilee Singers and on Haitian music. Her passion for all forms of music spills out of boxes and hopefully her entire collection will be widely utilized by music educators and students.