A Tempo: Expanding Access to Marian Anderson's Legacy

Apr 5, 2018

The voice of Marian Anderson resonates not just with beauty, but also with a proud and historic legacy. She made history as the first African American woman to sing a leading role at the Metropolitan Opera in 1955, and about 16 years earlier, a refusal by the Daughters of the American Revolution to allow her to perform before an integrated audience at Constitution Hall in Washington DC led to an outdoor concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, supported by then First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. 

Marian Anderson and her mother, Anna Anderson, at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939.
Credit Penn Libraries

Those were just two of the many moments in Anderson’s life that reflect her pioneering role. Many more of them are captured in the Marian Anderson papers housed at the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, part of Penn Libraries in Philadelphia. Penn Libraries recently received funding from the Council on Library and Information Resources to digitize portions of this collection and others through the Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives program. The collection includes coaching notes, programs, jokes, recipes, fan letters, tour itineraries and scrapbooks, as well as audio recordings.

This Saturday at 7 pm, A Tempo host Rachel Katz speaks with two of the principal investigators on the grant – David McKnight, head of the Rare Books and Manuscript Library and Curator of Manuscripts at the Kislak Center, and Liza Vick, Head of the Otto E. Albrecht Music Library and Eugene Ormandy Music and Media Center, about the digitization project and some examples of what can be found in the collection. 

Marian Anderson with Eugene Ormandy, 1956.
Credit Penn Libraries
Credit Penn Libraries