Research Centers & Special Collections

Below is a developing list of research centers and collections featuring or including a significant portion of material by or about African American musicians.

Entries are not restricted to Classical vocal music, nor is this list comprehensive.  Please use the contact form to recommend additional entries .

African-American History Resources
The William Stanley Hoole Special Collections Library
University of Alabama Libraries
Box 870266
Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35487-0266
Phone: 205/348-0500

Recorded and printed sources of field recordings and lyrics of traditional songs, recordings of Gospel music, shaped-note singing, recordings of popular music from vintage blues, jazz and ragtime, and hundreds of pieces of sheet music and commercial recordings by African American singers and instrumentalists

The African American Music Collection
Room 101B
West Hall
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1092
Phone: 734/764-8338; Fax 734/763-4452

Collections include: The Eva Jessye Collection, The Nathaniel C. Standifer Video Archive of Oral History, The Maxwell O. Reade Collection of Early Jazz and Blues Recordings, and the “Porgy and Bess: An American Voice”

African American Musical Heritage Collection
Special Colletions Dept.
University of South Florida Tampa Library
4202 E. Fowler Ave., LIB 122
Tampa, FL 33620
Phone: 813-974-2731

The collection consists of approximately 4000 pieces of published sheet music reflecting the influences of African Americans on popular music in the United States. The earliest piece in the collection dates back to 1818, and the more recent pieces date through the 1980’s. Also included in the collection are music books, manuscript music and materials, photographs, posters, handbills and other African American music ephemera. The collection is currently being processed and fully cataloged.

African-American Sheet Music Digitizing Project
Brown University
Providence, RI 02912
Phone: 401/863-1574

Collection consists of 1,500 pieces of African-American sheet music from 1870 to 1920, providing a window into the daily concerns and pastimes of African Americans in the 19th and early 20th centuries

Archives of African American Music and Culture
Smith Research Center, Room 180
Indiana University
Bloomington, IN 47408
Phone: 812/855-8547 or 812/855-8545 (Fax)

Includes audio and video recordings, photographs, original scores, oral histories, etc., related to popular, religious, and art musics, and Black radio

Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection
Temple University
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Holds rare books, prints, photographs, slave narratives, manuscripts, letters, sheet music, foreign language publications and ephemera

Center for Southern African-American Music
School of Music
813 Assembly Street
Room 208
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC 29208
phone: 803-777-0227
fax: 803-777-1426

The CSAM archive holds sheet music dating from 1843, Gullah field recordings, material relating to Charleston’s Jenkins Orphanage, South Carolina blues musicians, and Porgy and Bess, and audio-visual, photographic, and print materials related specifically to African-American music of the south. The CSAM website also provides access to video outtakes from USC’s Fox Movietone News collection.

Collection of Negroiana, [ca. 1800]-1981
Gumby, L. S. Alexander, comp.
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Butler Library
Columbia University
New York, NY

E. Azalia Hackley Collection
Special Collections
Detroit Public Library
Main Library, 3rd Floor
Detroit, Michigan
Phone: 313/833-1460 Fax: 313/833-5039

Rare books, manuscripts, performer and organization archives, photographs dating from mid-1800’s to present, recorded sound collection, sheet music collection

Ella Fitzgerald Collection
Music Library Special Collections
Schoenberg Hall, Room B425
University of California, Los Angeles
Box 951490
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1490
Phone: 310/825-1665; Fax: 310/206-7322

Florence Beatrice Smith Price (1888-1953) Collection
University of Arkansas Libraries
Special Collections
365 N. McIlroy Avenue
Fayetteville, AR 72701-4002
Phone: (479) 575-5577

The papers consist of correspondence of Price and of her daughter, Florence Price Robinson, diary fragments, programs, and photographs. In addition there are the research files of Mary Dengler Hudgins on Price. The papers also include musical scores. These are arranged according to keyboard, voice, string, and symphonic works

Historic American Sheet Music Project
Special Collections Library
Duke University
Box 90185
Durham, NC 27708-0185
Phone: 919/660-5822 or 919/660-5934 (Fax)

This collection consists of 3,000 pieces of historic American sheet music from the period 1850-1920, representing a wide variety of musical types including bel canto; minstrel songs; protest, political and patriotic songs; plantation songs; spirituals; songs from vaudeville, musicals, and Tin Pan Alley; World War I compositions; and Civil War battle songs

Louis Armstrong House and Archives
Louis Armstrong Archives
Rosenthal Library
Queens College/CUNY
Flushing, NY 11367
Phone: 718/997-3670; 718/997-3677 (fax)

Louis Armstrong House
34-56 107th St.
Corona, NY 11368
Phone: 718/478-8274; 718/478-8299 (fax)

Archives include tapes, sound recordings, scrapbooks, photos, manuscript band parts, personal papers and manuscripts, instruments [SV]

The Marian Anderson Music Study Center
The Van Pelt Dietrich Library Center
University of Pennsylvania Library
3420 Walnut
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
Phone: 215/898-7554

Includes the library’s Marian Anderson Archive, which contains correspondence, audiotaped interviews, recordings, annotated musical scores, clippings, diaries, and photographs dating from 1920 to 1991

Maud Cuney-Hare Collection, 1874-1936
Archives and Special Collections
Robert W. Woodruff Library
Atlanta University Center
Atlanta, GA

The Moorland-Spingarn Research Center
Howard University
500 Howard Place, N.W
Washington, DC 20059
Phone: 202/806-7480

Music reflecting Black participation in and contributions to the development of jazz, folk, spiritual, popular and classical styles, is well documented by the Music Department. Its collections are rich in sheet music, recordings, songbook albums, and instructional concert material for voice and piano. The collection documents over 400 composers dating from the 18th century to the present. Among the major composers represented are Will Marion Cook, William L. Dawson, R. Nathaniel Dett, W.C. Handy, and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

Music Division
William L. Clements Library
The University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190

Collection of early American music, including music of African Americans, of the 18th and 19th centuries

Music Information Center
Chicago Public Library
400 S. State Street
Chicago, IL 60605
Phone: 312 747-4850; Fax 312 747-4832

One of the largest music collections in a public library with substantial holdings in African American music including The Chicago Blues Archives, the Jubilee Showcase Gospel Music Video Collection (fifty hours), The Martin & Morris Gospel Sheet Music Collection, files, board minutes and documents of the African American local 208 of the American Federation of Musicians, Roy G. Butler Collection, and The University of Chicago Folk Festival Recordings Collection.

Rodgers & Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound
New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
40 Lincoln Center Plaza
New York, NY 10023
Phone: 212/870-1663; 870-1662

Second largest recorded sound archives in the USA, which stems from the earliest days of recorded sound cylinders to the latest laser discs, has recordings of Afro-American composers and performers (though that is not their main focus), a collection of very early as well as current record company catalogs which list the different artists and the songs that they recorded, sometimes with interesting photos and bios and a large print collection of books and periodicals, dealing with composer and artist discographies, as well as any other aspect of recorded sound . Their Music Research Division has many scores and manuscripts in their Americana collection. The contact person there is George Boziwick, and his number is 212-870-1647. [SV]

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
New York Public Library
515 Malcolm X Blvd.
New York, N. Y. 10037-1801
Reference Desk: 212/491-2218

One of the world’s largest collections of African/American and other African related cultural materials, including sheet music, sound recordings and videos [SV]

Smithsonian: African American History and Culture
Washington, DC

Selected links to African American sites hosted by Smithsonian Institution museums and organizations.  Includes photographs, music sheets, folios, ozalid copies, correspondence, manuscripts lyrics

Southern Folklife Collection
The Wilson Library CB #3926
200 South Road
UNC-Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC 27515-8890
Phone: 919/962-7105

Archival resource dedicated to collecting, preserving and disseminating vernacular music, art, and culture related to the American South

The William Grant Still and Verna Arvey Papers
Special Collections Division
University of Arkansas Libraries
Fayetteville, AR 72701-1201
Phone: 501/575-5577 or 501/575-6656 (Fax)

Includes musical scores, literary manuscripts, correspondence, sheet music, audio recordings, photographs, and books

William Grant Still Collection
Special Collections Library
Duke University
Box 90185
Durham, NC 27708-0185
Phone: 919/660-5822 or 919/660-5934 (Fax)

Photocopies of music, writings, correspondences, clippings, recordings, etc., that primarily document Still’s work as a composer

William Ransom Hogan Jazz Archive
Howard-Tilton Memorial Library
Tulane University
New Orleans, LA 70118

Oral history tapes, sound recordings, sheet music and manuscripts and many other materials [SV]


To cite this page:
Afrocentric Voices in Classical Music. Created by Randye Jones. Created/Last modified: October 1, 2018. Accessed:.