American music history has largely ignored or disregarded the contributions of African Americans. Emory University’s Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library contains over 30 archival collections of various sizes that both uncover and recover the critical role African Americans played in the music culture of the United States. A new exhibit, “Highlights from African American Musicians and Artists in Rose Library’s Collection,” focuses on 15 items from Rose Library holdings in four sections:
- William Levi Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony – a score and some correspondence about this influential composition, drawn from the largest music-related collection at Rose Library.
- Composers – music manuscripts from George Walker, Undine Smith Moore, and H.T. Burleigh.
- Dancers and entertainers – scrapbooks from entertainers Josephine Baker and Ruby Dandridge, a contract involving blues musician Victoria Spivey, and a never-produced movie script by musician Olivette Miller dramatizing the life of her comedian father, Flournoy Miller.
- Poets and music (music-related items drawing from Rose Library’s extensive poets and poetry collections) – a letter between brothers James Weldon Johnson and J. Rosamond Johnson, a recording signed by Langston Hughes, a manuscript from a musical by Mari Evans, and a poem manuscript by Phillis Wheatley.
The exhibit will be on display free of charge in the Rose Library (Woodruff Library, Level 10) through January 5, 2024, during the Rose Library’s regular business hours (closed during holidays and Dec. 22-Jan 1).
—by Peter Shirts, music & dance librarian, Emory Libraries