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American Women: Resources from the Performing Arts Collections

Other Primary Sources

William P. Gottlieb, photographer. Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Milt (Milton) Jackson, and Timmie Rosenkrantz. 1947. Library of Congress Music Division.

There are literally hundreds of other special collections in the custody of the Music Division that are potential sources for the women's history scholar. View the full list of special collections on the Performing Arts Reading Room website. Collection names in many cases identify those that contain personal papers of women, but in other instances the relevance is not so obvious.

Modern Music Archives

The Modern Music Archives documents the history of Modern Music, the quarterly journal of the League of Composers from 1924 to 1946. Edited by Minna Lederman Daniel (1898-1995), the writings and criticism published in this journal influenced a generation of composers at the forefront of the American musical avant-garde.

Charles Jahant Photos

Photos of singers and opera characters may be found in the Charles Jahant Collection, which includes both publicity shots and stills from actual productions.

Federal Music Project

The U.S. Work Projects Administration Federal Music Project documents musical life in America during the years of the WPA, roughly 1935-43. Designed to provide jobs for professional musicians on the relief rolls, many of whom were women, the project employed instrumentalists, singers, concert performers, and music teachers and strove to establish high standards of musicianship and to educate the public through an appreciation of music.

William P. Gottlieb Photos

The William P. Gottlieb Collection, featuring the work of noted photographer William Gottlieb, contains more than sixteen hundred photographs documenting the jazz scene from 1938 to 1948, primarily in New York City and Washington, D.C. It includes photographs of some of the great women in jazz: Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Sarah Vaughan, Ethel Waters, Mary Lou Williams , and others. The online collection presents Gottlieb's photographs, annotated contact prints, selected published prints, and related articles from Down Beat magazine.

And More...

Aside from special collections, there is also primary source material in music that is individually cataloged and designated as rare material. Music manuscripts, letters, and first editions of music scores that are not part of a special collection are cataloged and shelved as “Case,” the designation for rare material in the Music Division. Music manuscripts of African-American composer Florence Price, for example, are cataloged separately and are not part of a Florence Price collection.