SPEC Kit 347: Community-based Collections · 143
American Musicological Society records
American Musicological Society records, 1934-1992
http://dla.library.upenn.edu/dla/ead/ead.html?q=american%20musicological%20society&id=EAD_upenn_rbml_MsColl221&%23ref8[6/23/15, 2:33:45 PM]
and Edward Lowinsky were Members of the Board.
Because officers of the AMS usually only saw each other twice a year, at the spring
board meeting and at the annual meeting, the administration of the AMS took place
primarily through correspondence. As a result, AMS correspondence records often
provide an incredibly rich and detailed account of the decision-making that went on
behind any given course of action in the AMS. On the other hand, because it was left
up to the individual officers to send their files to the archives, there are often
tremendous gaps in the records. Some officers weeded their files significantly before
passing them on to a successor. Others discarded the outdated files of a
It was not until the early 70s that the AMS gave some thought to an ordered
preservation of their records. In 1972 Louise Cuyler made a microfilm copy of the
Society’s minute books from 1934-1971, and deposited the originals at the New York
Public Library. As of 1987 the minute books themselves were considered a
permanent part of the NYPL collection. The microfilm remains a part of the Penn
collection. In about 1970, Clayton Henderson of Beloit College and later of St. Mary’s
was appointed archivist, and he began to collect material there with the intention of
writing a history of the society. By 1981, Henderson writes that he suspected
missing records might be in the Library of Congress, in the Virginia Bonded
Warehouse, among the effects of Gustave Reese, and in the New York Public Library
of Performing Arts. Certainly some of the material remained in university files of the
individual officers.
In 1987 the Society resolved to move all of the records to a central location.
Because the Business Office of the Society had been located at the University of
Pennsylvania for many years, Philadelphia seemed a logical site for the archive. As
John Roberts of Penn’s Van Pelt Library wrote at the time, “Because of the long
association between the AMS and the University of Pennsylvania, we believe it is
highly appropriate that the society’s archives be located here.”[1] The archives were
transferred as a gift to the University of Pennsylvania in January of 1989. Since then
various officers and committee chairs have added their files to the collection.
Currently the bulk of the material begins with the first meeting of the AMA in June of
1934, and ends with the end of H. Wiley Hitchcock’s presidential term in 1992. The
most significant gap occurs from 1950-1958 the presidential files of Gustave Reese,
Donald Grout (1953-54), Karl Geiringer, and J. Murray Barbour do not appear to
have been included.
Some material has been removed from the collection, including personal papers of
Otto Albrecht and Alvin Johnson, as well as form letters, publications of societies
other than the AMS, tourism brochures, triplicate copies, and ephemera unrelated to
the AMS.
General Correspondence
Over the course of its history the AMS had occasion to correspond with many of the
principal figures in the field of music research, including professional and scholarly
organizations, academic institutions, publishing houses and individuals. This
correspondence series consists of letters addressed to officers of the society by
outside individuals or organizations. This includes letters from members of the
society, and even officers of the society at times before or after their term of office.
Letters from these individuals and institutions are filed alphabetically to provide
name access to some of the most prominent members of the field of musical
research. In contrast, the outgoing correspondence is arranged chronologically in
order to allow research on a given time period. This dual arrangement allows a
researcher both easy access to individual correspondence and also an overview of
the activities and concerns of the society over time. The bulk of the correspondence
dates from the late 1930s through the mid-1980s.
The earliest correspondents include some of the Society’s founding members,
including Charles Seeger and Curt Sachs. Paul Henry Lang, one of the founding
members of the Society, periodically wrote to clarify his views on the future of the
Society. William Newman, onetime president of the AMS often offered his opinions as
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