Jeffery Cotton papers
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Jeffery Cotton (1957-2013) was a classical composer, entrepreneur, essayist and fiction writer. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he began his study of music at California State University Northridge, where he studied clarinet with Charles Bay and composition with Frank Campo and Daniel Kessner. In 1983, Cotton received a Fulbright Scholarship to embark on a two-year course of study with Hans Werner Henze at the Academy of Music in Cologne, Germany. Cotton earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in 1989 at the University of Pennsylvania as an Annenberg Fellow, where he studied under George Crumb, Jay Reise, Chinary Ung and Richard Wernick. He would later return to Germany on a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1990. Alongside his work as a composer, Cotton was the manager for the Orchestra of St. Luke's in New York City and its associated chamber ensemble. He also worked as a computer programmer and a fiction writer up until his death in 2013.
The collection features the personal journals of Jeffery Cotton from 1975-2006, hand written and printed scores, CDs, cassettes, certificates, and photographs. It does not include materials regarding his education beyond his diploma and his musings in journals and manuscripts. The collection is divided into two series Series 1: Personal Journals and Series 2: Memorabilia and Music.
The first series, Personal Journals and Memorabilia, dates from 1975 to 2006, with the bulk of writing from 1975 to 1996. This series holds the personal journals diligently kept by Cotton, two photographs, and certificates documenting Cotton's graduation from the University of Pennsylvania as well as his certificate of recognition for the Fulbright he was awarded in 1983. The files are arranged chronologically.
Cotton kept journals from a young age. The earliest journal in the collection was written in 1975, when Cotton was 18. His journals detail his thoughts and feelings about his professional career, doubts and aspirations, education, and accomplishments. Cotton journaled as often as several times a week, often updating his journal on his successes and failures. The journals dive into the evolution of his process as a musician as well as his excitement when he received recognition of his talent early in his career. For example, in his journal entry from October 2, 1976, Cotton wrote "Mr. P told me to take it to Dr. Kessner to work out performance problems. I did, and he recommended we play it. Mr. P later told me that Dr. Kesser told him that I am a prodigal talent. I was totally freaking!!" Writing about his frustrations with his creative process in his journal entry from May 8, 1977, Cotton declared, "Creativity is a sleeping and cunning beast that seems to come and go as it pleases." Poetry and doodles are also scribbled in margins and between entries.
The journals also include entries about Cotton's personal life including intimate and familial relationships, financial hardships, and decisions to travel. Cotton wrote about coming of age and into himself as a gay man. He also admitted he was prone to infatuations that thrived mostly in his journal entries, "How much I would love to just be able to hug someone – to be with them, to love them. I fantasize constantly," (August 21,1976). The journals hold his thoughts about his gradual coming out story to friends and his community.
The second series, Music, is divided into two subseries. The materials range in date from 1984 to 2005. Subseries A: Written Music holds both handwritten and printed scores of Jeffery Cotton. This collection holds handwritten manuscripts that document the evolution of pieces such as "Lyra," "CityMusic," "Lydian Sonata," and more. The handwritten scores contain notes and corrections. The subseries was divided by each individual piece of music. This subseries is arranged alphabetically. Subseries B: Recorded Music contains both CDs and cassettes and is arranged chronologically.
Researchers interested in contemporary and American classical music, in gay life in Philadelphia, the United States, and Germany during the 1970s and the 1980, and fellows (both Fulbright fellows and Guggenheim fellows) will find value in this collection. Further, those investigating student experiences at the University of Pennsylvania will find particular strengths in the areas of gay life at Penn in the late 1980s and the musical community at Penn, and in particular, composers at Penn.
Gift of Dan Coleman, 2022.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Caitlin Abadir-Mullally
- Access Restrictions
The bulk of this collection is open for research use, however, use of the compact discs (optical disks) in Box 2, Folder 27 are restricted. The computer files originally stored on the compact discs have been processed and are available for research use (see items described as "Digital Content (Reading Room Access Only)" along the right-hand side in the Collection Inventory). These computer files are reading-room access only on a dedicated computer in the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library.
Use of the audiocassettes in Boxes 5 and 6 are restricted from use. If the original does not already have a copy, it may be sent to an outside vendor for copying. Patrons are financially responsible for the cost. The turnaround time from request to delivery of digital items will depend on the nature of the material and is subject to review for condition. Please contact the Kislak Center (firstname.lastname@example.org) for cost estimates and ordering. Researchers should be aware of specifics of copyright law and act accordingly.
- Use Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.