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
Musicology was a young and relatively unacknowledged field of scholarship in the United States in the 1920s and early 30s, on the eve of the founding of the American Musicological Society. Though music was highly valued in this country as both high culture and popular entertainment, the systematic study of music was only beginning to gain recognition as a serious scholarly pursuit. Music programs in American universities offered primarily vocational training for such careers as performer and music instructor. It was not until 1930, with the appointment of Otto Kinkeldey at Cornell, that an American university offered a faculty position for musicology. Cornell also awarded the first American doctoral degree in Musicology in 1932 to J. Murray Barbour, later a President of the AMS. Over the next sixty years the field of musicological research burgeoned in American University programs, as music scholars gained influence and professional stature. A small group of American musicologists, passionate about their own research and devoted to the expansion of the field, formed the nexus of the movement which would transform the role of music study in American higher education for later generations of scholars. Among these ground breaking scholars were the founders of the American Musicological Society: Helen Roberts, George S. Dickinson, Carl Engel, Joseph Schillinger, Charles Seeger, Harold Spivacke, Oliver Strunk, Joseph Yasser, and Gustave Reese.
In the early decades of the twentieth century, American musicologists depended on European resources, both financial and institutional, for the support of their scholarship. The Internationale Musik-Gesellschaft served as the international society of the field and produced its primary scholarly journals. The U.S. branch of the IMG functioned as the center for American scholarly debate on music between 1907 and 1914. When World War One brought the dissolution of the European IMG, however, its American offspring could not survive independently, and all formal organization of musicologists temporarily died out. The International Musicological Society, founded in Basel in 1927, filled the gap left by the IMG in Europe, but an attempt to establish an American branch of the IMS in 1928 was largely unsuccessful. Though the Music Teachers' International Association, founded in 1876, served as a forum for the exchange of debate on music, the MTNA increasingly attracted those interested in practical musical instruction. The music community felt a growing need for an organization devoted specifically to musicalogical research.
New York Musicological Society, 1930-1934
By the early 1930s musicology had gained a place in American academics; universities began to offer faculty positions in musicology and to institute programs of musicological training for their students. The scholarly world was ready for the revival of an American society of musicologists. "[I]n New York City, a small group of men interested in the rapprochement of science and music met on the evening of January 20, 1930 with the purpose of organizing a purely local society." This group of men and women, calling themselves the "New York Musicological Society" envisioned a select membership of active scholars, meeting once or twice a month to read papers and engaging in organized debate on scholarly topics. "The interest of the group is, it is true, avowedly systematic rather than historical, stressing speculative and experimental methods in close liaison with the vanguard of the liaison with the vanguard of the living art of music." Over the course of its brief existence the NYMS held thirty-five meetings and had published three volumes of its Bulletin.
Even at the time of their founding the New York Musicological Society foresaw the dissolution of their local group when the interest and resources were found to organize a society of broader scope: "It is hoped that this will form the nucleus for a National Society." On June 3, 1934, a handful of members of the New York Musicological Society met to discuss the organization of such a society, dedicated to advancing "research in the various fields of music as a branch of learning." They passed the following resolution:
The New York Musicological Society has flourished during the past five years as a small group interested chiefly in the systematic approach to Musicology. At a meeting of the executive committee it was unanimously decided: 1) that a broadening of scope to include all subjects of musicological interest is imperative; 2) that to accomplish this it will be necessary to reorganize on a national scale.
The group approached Otto Kinkeldey to serve as their first president, and named the organization the American Musicological Society (it was briefly an Association rather than a Society). By the spring of 1935 the AMS comprised three chapters: Greater New York, Western New York, and Washington Baltimore. The AMS held their first annual meeting that year in Philadelphia, in cooperation with the Music Teacher's National Association.
International Congress, 1939
As the second World War sapped the European intellectual sphere of its financial resources and intellectual energies, and as some of the finest European scholars fled to the United States; the time was ripe for American musicologists to step into a leadership role worldwide. As German-born Alfred Einstein wrote of German scholarship in 1939, "since  there has not been any more unhampered research in the field of musical science." Unlike European nations, "America ha[d] the liberty to be creative in the field of musicology and to select her methods from Europe." As Einstein pointed out, no European country was at liberty to organize a gathering in that year, and European scholars looked to America for the sustainance of free scholarship. Indeed, the American group took up the banner with grace. Mere weeks after Hitler's invasion of Poland, the AMS played host to some of the world's finest music scholars at the International Congress held in New York City. The first such gathering of international scholars of music in America, this congress defined the central role the AMS would play in the decades ahead for musicology worldwide.
By all accounts, the congress was a tremendous success, and in fact drew more attention in the national press than musicology conferences today. Among the speakers were such eminent scholars as Dragan Plamenac (Yugoslavia), Manfred Bukofzer, Knud Jeppesen (Denmark), Otto Gombosi, (Hungary), Fernando Liuzzi (Italy), Alfred Einstein and Curt Sachs. George Herzog's presentation on the Anglo-American folk origins of Negro spirituals created a stir among the press. Not only did the congress provide the AMS with international recognition as a leading organization in the field of music scholarship, it also established the validity of the study of New World musical traditions. As Arthur Mendel wrote in the Musical Times (November 1939), "The keynote of the Congress was undoubtedly the aim to demonstrate that America has . . .a musical past, as well as a present and a future." American musicology had come into its own.
Growth and Recognition
Over the next decade the Society grew steadily. During the war years, this growth was in part due to the stream of European musicologists who made the United States their home and established themselves in American universities. This wave of immigrations invigorated the scholarly community in the United States and broadened the scope of American resources and scholarship. Some of these immigrants were among the most prominent members of the AMS, both in their personal scholarship and in the scope of their vision for the future of musicology as a profession. Edward Lowinsky involved himself with almost every aspect of the society, most significantly the Josquin Festival, but also including the establishment of various awards and the planning of the Kennedy Center Conferences. Manfred Bukofzer was a longtime board member, and his legacy lives on in AMS publications which continue to be funded by his bequest. Dragan Plamenac was also a board member and spent many years working on an AMS publication project, the Ockeghem Volumes.
Despite the rapid influx of immigrants, the growth of the Society was limited by the careful restriction of the membership and hence the lack of substantial income from dues. The founders of the AMS had initially imagined themselves as a very select group of scholars who had proven themselves through their publications and their reputation in the field. The rather rigorous membership process required perspective members to be nominated by a current member (whose nomination was then seconded) and then subjected to a vote by the Board. One negative vote was enough to keep a nominee out of membership. By 1944, having realized the limitations this membership policy imposed, the Board established the category of Associate member for those who shared the interests of the society, but did not qualify professionally for membership. Along with this new category of members, the AMS also began a campaign to recruit new members. By 1947 the membership had grown to 549, and in 1948 the distinction between active and associate members was abolished. By 1997 the membership had reached more than 3,000.
By 1942 the total number of chapters had grown to eight, including New England, Philadelphia, Southern California, and Northwestern Chapters. In 1951 the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) admitted the AMS as a constituent member, giving them their final validation as a scholarly organization.
Journal of the American Musicological Society
One of the most decisive steps for the AMS in the effort to gain legitimacy was the founding of the Journal in 1948. From the time of the founding of the Society, papers read at annual meetings were published in the Society's Papers. Abstracts of papers read at Chapters were published in the Bulletin. Other news and information was published in the Newsletter, begun in 1944. In 1946, George Dickinson proposed that the Society establish a Journal to supersede these various publications, and by 1948 the Journal of the American Musicological Society had been founded. Oliver Strunk served as its first editor.
Though the Journal editors were not always effective administrators, they were almost always among the most prominent scholars in the field. Following Strunk's high standard were such respected names as Donald Grout, Gustave Reese, Lewis Lockwood, and James Haar. The job of editor was both a great honor and an administrative nightmare. Though the Journal brought the Society an influx of institutional memberships, and increased its legitimacy as a scholarly organization, the publication was very expensive and continually plagued with deadline problems. In order to finance the publication the Society was forced to more than double the membership dues. The Executive Board constantly struggled with editors, authors, and the William Byrd Press, who published the Journal, to make sure the Journal came out on time. In fact, the Journal quickly gained a reputation for being late (sometimes up to a year behind schedule) and was a source of embarrassment to some officers. Complaints from the membership flooded in during the 1950s. In several instances an editor left office under unpleasant circumstances. Despite these early problems, JAMS is currently received around the world and is recognized as one of the most prestigious journals of music scholarship.
Trends in Higher Education
Over the years changes in the climate of American higher education have been reflected in the operations of the AMS. During the 1940s the influx of European scholars and the resulting increase in the number and variety of doctorates awarded in the U.S. are reflected in the expanding membership roles of the society, dominated by those who had their training abroad, but had now entered the ranks of American educators. At the same time, this rapid growth meant that the parameters of the field and the professional status of its members were in transition. By establishing committees to provide guidelines for doctoral programs and to set standards for the profession, the AMS continued to have input in the development of the field.
From an early date the AMS realized its responsibility to set high educational standards for students, and to ensure that young graduates found the job opportunities they deserved. Caught between roles as scholars and musicians, musicologists often continued to struggle to find their place in academic communities. Claude Palisca pointed out the prejudice against musicologists "from the side of the academic community, which failed to recognize the musician as a full-fledged colleague, and from the members of music departments, who insisted on judging the scholar strictly by standards of practical musicianship." While musicologists faced such difficulties in the larger academic community, an organization specifically devoted to music research became an important vehicle for providing support (both moral and financial) to music scholars. The AMS constantly discussed and redefined the parameters of the field, and looked towards the future of the profession. Also in the 1970s the ever-tightening job market for academics forced the AMS to rethink their role in providing guidance for young Ph.D.s. This situation led to the establishment of the Placement Service, a joint service with the College Music Society which served as a clearing house for jobs and candidates. The AMS also established committees on job placement and careers, and published several guides to careers in musicology, in and out of academics. Outside the field of musicology, the AMS played a larger role in monitoring trends in intellectual life in general, and in implementing change in the American University system.
In the 1960s as government played a more and more substantial role in funding for the arts and humanities, the AMS was concerned with the establishment and management of such organizations as the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Council for the Arts in Education. It fell to scholarly organizations such as the AMS to monitor the methods and means of the NEH and NCAE for supporting music scholarship, both by advising and protesting the actions of these groups. In the 1970s and 80s the AMS took a serious step for the advancement of research on American composers with the establishment of their Committee on the Publication of American Music, and the resulting monographic series on American studies in music.
In the 1980s and 90s trends in American intellectual life led to changing concerns for the AMS as well. Rising awareness of minorities and women's issues, multi-culturalism, gay and lesbian issues, and interdisciplinary studies influenced the formation of committees to address the concerns of the membership, and sparked ongoing discussion. Throughout its history, the choices the AMS made in focusing their creative energies and their financial resources helped to shape the development of American musicological publication and research through the twentieth century.
 Bulletin of the New York Musicological Society, No. 1, November, 1931.
 Einstein, Alfred, "The New Outlook of Musical Scholarship in Europe and America," in Musical America, September 1939.
 Palisca, Claude, "A Brief History," in Musicology, ed. Harrison et al.
The records of the American Musicological Society were donated to the University of Pennsylvania in 1989, with the understanding that the processing and maintenance of the collection would be the shared responsibility of the Curator of the Music Library and the Curator of Manuscripts. While much of the material has a purely administrative interest, the collection as a whole reflects the history of musicology in America through the course of the twentieth century. The names which run through the collection are the eminent music scholars of our age; it was these individuals who shaped the course of musicology in America, both through their scholarship and also through their administrative vision within the AMS. Some of the most significant figures in this collection are Presidents Charles Seeger, Curt Sachs, Gustave Reese, Donald Grout, William Mitchell, William S. Newman, Oliver Strunk, Jan LaRue, James Haar, Claude Palisca, Margaret Bent, H. Wiley Hitchcock, Janet Knapp, and Lewis Lockwood. Otto Albrecht was Treasurer and Business Manager. Rita Benton served as secretary, and Alvin Johnson was long-time Executive Director. Paul Henry Lang served as Treasurer. Nino Pirrotta, Manfred Bukofzer, Alfred Einstein, Arthur Mendel, 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 predecessor.
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." 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.
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 well. Isabel Pope was one of the only prominent female members of the AMS in the 1940s, along with Helen Hewitt and Helen Heffron Roberts. Helen Roberts wrote to Secretary Gustave Reese in 1934 to propose that the American Society for Comparative Musicology, of which she was Secretary, merge with the AMS as a recognized branch. Alfred Einstein was one of the most prominent immigrant members of the young society. His daughter Eva established an award in his honor after his death.
Some of the earliest correspondence relates to the 1939 International Congress in New York. Noah Greenberg of New York's Pro Musica also wrote about performances for the Congress. Knud Jeppesen first had contact with the AMS in 1939 when he came to New York as a delegate. He was later elected to Corresponding membership in the society. Romain Rolland, French novelist and musicologist, was forced to decline an invitation. His letter of regret was presented at the opening of the Congress and was quoted widely in daily newspapers. Albert Schweitzer also sent a letter of regret. Other eminent musicologists who wrote regarding their attendance at the Congress were Johannes Wolf, Albert Smijers, Francisco Curt Lange and Otto Gombosi. The 1961 Congress was also a stimulus for correspondence, including Boris Goldovsky, who wrote to discuss a performance of Paisiello's King Theodore, as did Arthur Schoep. Mantle Hood, also active on AMS committees, was an key figure in the organization of the Congress, as well as a prominent ethnomusicologist. Emanuel Winternitz, of the Metropolitan Museum, worked on performance arrangements for the Congress and was also a Council member.
Often individuals who served on the Council or had completed terms as officers or Board members wrote to advise or to offer constructive criticism. Margaret Bent and Larry Bernstein, both active members and administrators of the AMS, wrote with various proposals for the goals and organization of AMS. Additional correspondence from them, as well as from David Boyden, may be found throughout the collection. H. Wiley Hitchcock, later AMS president, writes in 1970 with a brief bibliography on early American music. Harold Spivacke was a member of the board and council, and occasionally communicated on library issues. Denis Stevens, musicologist and conductor, as well as AMS council member, wrote to comment on the 1968 Annual Meeting. Though he never served as its president, Edward Lowinsky served on many of the Society's committees and was especially involved in the establishment of prizes and awards, and had a clear concept of the importance of the AMS in national educational issues. Dragan Plamenac, a member of the board and honorary member, was until his death the editor of the Ockeghem Volumes, a long term AMS publications project (see also Publications, Ockeghem).
Other members, even if they never served as officers, made a career-long commitment to the AMS through their service on committees and their work on special projects. Martin Picker was primarily involved in publications and also served as editor of the Journal. He writes to comment on the feasibility of a library research center in Italy. Manfred Bukofzer was active on many committees in the Society and eventually gave a substantial bequest to the Society's publications endowment (see Treasurer, Funds and Bequests). Helen Hewitt, a board member of the AMS and compiler of the early versions of the Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology, wrote primarily concerning her professional projects (see also Board Correspondence and Publications, Special Projects, DDM). Cynthia Hoover, a librarian at the Smithsonian Institute, was active member of the U.S. Bicentennial Committee and the Committee on the Publication of American Music, in particular the Billings project (see also Publications). Irving Lowens, a notable music critic, was involved in such AMS projects as the Kennedy Center Festivals and in 1975 wrote to explain his position on AMS involvement in the events.
Other members wrote to promote issues in which they had an vested interest, to ask the AMS to endorse their projects, or to incite political action by the AMS. Barry Brook was a frequent correspondent regarding his inventory projects (see also Affiliations, RILM). Malcolm Brown had close ties with Soviet Musicologists as well as IREX and wrote to sponsor various exchange trips (see also Affiliations, IREX). Vincent Duckles of the Music Library Association was concerned with the research library element of the field; he devoted considerable energy to the proposed establishment of an American Library Center for Musicological Research in Rome (see also Music Library Association and Special Topics, American Library Center in Italy). Richard S. Hill, the editor of MLA's NOTES, was also active in the AMS, especially in the committee on RISM. In 1975 Don Krummel applied to the AMS to endorse his NEH Grant application for a Directory of Source Materials in Early American Music. Arthur Mendel served on AMS committees and frequently applied to the board for political action or reform, including appointments to NEH and the cutback on hours at the Library of Congress. James Pruett of the Library of Congress wrote in 1990 to draw the attention of the AMS to the copyright legislation which he believed threatened musical scholarship. In 1954 Alex Ringer wrote to express his feelings about the Howell Bill, then under consideration.
There were of course those members who brought problems and complaints to the attention of the Board. Tim McGee offered the Canadian viewpoint to the Society, and incited debates on the treatment of Canadian members by the AMS and on the possibility of establishing a Canadian chapter. Alex Main, for some time a member of the Chapter Fund Committee, wrote several letters in 1990 to enquire about the AMS policies for selecting papers to be read at annual meetings; many prominent scholars, he argued, were rejected time and again in favor of less qualified presenters.
In the years after its founding the AMS was forced to define the parameters of its intellectual projects. This effort at self-definition necessarily excluded some members and, as a result, splinter groups often formed. Some groups were formed to provide an alternative to the AMS. As the head of the American Institute of Musicology in Rome, Armen Carpetyan was a difficult correspondent for many decades. On several occasions the AMS tried to form a lasting affiliation with the AIM, but with limited success. While the AIM and the AMS did collaborate on the publication of the Arcadelt volume, Carapetyan remained distrustful of the Society and often accused them of exclusionary practices (see also in Correspondence, AIM, in Publications, Arcadelt; Committees, AIM; and Affiliations, AIM). Gilbert Chase was an early member who was heavily involved in Latin American Musicology. He too was sometimes disappointed by the AMS's willingness to support ties with other Musicological organizations. The American Musical Instrument Society was another interest group organized out of the AMS. Its members, notably former AMS registrar Cecil Adkins, were often sensitive about what they saw as the AMS's exclusion of their interests. The Society of Ethnomusicology and the Society of Music Theory were both created out of AMS membership pool, and often the societies met jointly. Charles Seeger was a prominent figure in the early years of the AMS, but as time wore on he began to associate himself more firmly with the SEM, which he had founded; in the 1960s Seeger and Strunk corresponded on the possibility of a merger between the AMS and SEM. Of course the AMS looked warily at first on what might seem to be a fragmenting of their unified organization. As time went on, however, they welcomed the new perspectives afforded by these younger societies.
Throughout its history the AMS constantly renegotiated its ties to various professional and scholarly organizations; they both depended on the support and resources of these organizations, and also wished to maintain their own separate group identity. The American Council of Learned Societies elected the AMS a constituent member in 1951. It is through the ACLS that the AMS expresses its views on arts and education in America. The ACLS also offers funding to the Society (see also, Affiliations, ACLS). The International Musicological Society was another important affiliation for the AMS. They occasionally held their annual meetings in conjunction with the IMS Congress, and AMS officers often served on the board of the IMS. In addition to correspondence relating to their joint meetings, the IMS also wrote regarding projects they helped to fund, including the Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology Series. For many years the AMS was a member of the National Music Council, until they resigned their membership in 1969. Through its contact with the American Association of University Professors, the AMS maintained its interest in the professional lives of its members.
In addition to the memberships it held in umbrella organizations, the AMS also had affiliations to societies with which they formed joint committees or planned joint meetings. The College Music Society often held joint meetings with the AMS and collaborated on such projects as the Placement Service (see also Annual Meetings and Publications, Special Projects, Placement Service). The Music Teacher's National Association was a forerunner of the AMS, and for the first several years the AMS participated jointly in the MTNA annual meeting. Karl Gehrkens of the MTNA wrote in 1937 to negotiate an affiliation between the two organizations. For a period in the 1940s the AMS offered free memberships to the winners of the Mu Phi Epsilon award. The Music Library Association shared many members with the AMS and was involved in many joint projects, including joint annual meetings, the translations center, and the reprints committee. For a brief period in the 1970s the AMS worked with the Kennedy Center to plan a series of Festival-Conferences featuring individual composers. While the Haydn and Mozart Festivals were a success, other events were canceled, and the project was eventually abandoned (see also Committees, Kennedy Center, and Events). The International Research and Exchanges Board organized Soviet-American exchanges in the 1980s. The Modern Language Association provided the AMS with use of their computer system to process their mailing list. Other related societies include the International Association of Music Libraries and the Music Educator's National Conference.
Among other correspondents are the following prominent musicologists: Karl Geiringer, Donald Jay Grout, Charles Hamm, Glen Haydon, Daniel Heartz, George Herzog, Lloyd Hibberd, Joseph Kerman, Otto Kinkeldey, Jan La Rue, Alfred Mann, Dayton Miller, Hans Nathan, Otto Ortmann, Carl Parrish, Nino Pirrotta, Curt Sachs, Egon Wellesz, Anselm Hughes, and Eric Werner. Erich Hertzmann wrote personal letters to Oliver Strunk and his wife over several decades. In 1974 Paul Pisk wrote to communicate his intention of leaving $20,000 to the AMS in his will. As a result of its early connection with New York City, the AMS has reason to correspond with the New York Public Library, where they frequently held board meetings and later stored their records. The law firm of Rodwin & Rodwin provided legal advice for the AMS, especially in their publications contracts and constitution.
Board and Council Correspondence
Sometimes called Members at Large, Executive Committee, Executive Board, or Board of Directors, this group included the officers of the society and four elected representatives (six in the earlier years). Each board member served two years, with staggered terms. The correspondence of the Board generally reflects the debates and discussions of the administration over the years. Often this includes circular letters soliciting opinions of board members, or even ballots requiring a vote. Council Correspondence includes only circular letters to the council members; letters from the Council are filed under the member's name in general correspondence. Names of Officers, Board, and Council Members can be found in Administrative Records, List of Officers.
Other Correspondence includes Inquiries and Solicitations, which consists of form letters, requests for address lists, and requests for information. Invitations are primarily for inaugural events, to which the AMS was expected to send a representative.
Correspondence filed elsewhere in the collection includes: letters from members relating simply to issues of membership (Membership); correspondence among committee members, or between committees and outside organizations (Committees); correspondence among the publications committee, between editors and the officers, and between the publications committee and authors and publishers (Publications); correspondence among arrangements committees, or between arrangements committees and hotels, insurance brokers, exhibitioners, etc. (Annual Meetings); correspondence between chapter officers and the Society (Chapters).
The decision-making of the Society is made primarily by the Board, at their Biannual Meetings. The Board met once in the spring, often at the site of that year's coming annual meeting; in early years meetings of the Board were held at the New York Public Library. A second meeting of the Board was held in the fall or winter at the Annual Meeting itself. At the annual meeting, two board meetings were held: one for the outgoing board and one for the incoming board. In all cases the president collected items for the agenda throughout the year, sometimes at the request of members, and sometimes on his own initiative. This included periodical reports from the chairs of various committees. An agenda for the meetings was filed with the secretary and sent out ahead of time to board members. The secretary took notes at the meetings and sent a draft to the president and executive director for corrections. A final version of the minutes was supplied to the Board for approval at the beginning of the next meeting. Other regular meetings include meetings of the Council and Business Meetings. Meetings of the General Membership were eventually abandoned.
This series includes minutes of the Society from the time it was established to the present day. This includes agendas, drafts of minutes and final versions of minutes. When attachments were included they are filed with the minutes. Microfilm of early records are available. Minutes from the years 1983-1988 are bound in notebooks along with relevant documents. An index of the minutes records topics discussed in meeting from 1954 to 1962. Also included is a list of missing minutes.
In the first years of the Society, acquiring membership was an arduous task. A member must first have been nominated by a current member, which nomination was then seconded. A lengthy application was then filed, including recommendations, and then was subject to approval of the board. When a hierarchized membership was created in 1948 (by the Committee on Instituting a New Class of Members), the Board had to first decide whether the candidate merited Active or only Associate Membership and then had to review these memberships annually. In the late 1930s and early 40s Gustave Reese kept member files alphabetically by the name of the member. These files include nominations, applications, recommendations, ballots from the Board and incidental correspondence with the applicant. William Mitchell continued much the same practice in the late 1940s and early 50s. By the mid-fifties, however, when Louise Cuyler took over as secretary, the membership process had been much simplified. By this point anyone could be accepted as a member, as long as dues were paid. For this reason it was simpler for Cuyler to file applications chronologically by year and then alphabetically by member name.
In early years the Society had a Membership Committee, first charged with organizing applications and later with recruiting members. The correspondence of this committee spans the years 1935-1962 and includes promotional membership material. The committee on Honorary and Corresponding Members proposed individuals to receive Honorary Memberships, and foreign individuals to be honored with Corresponding memberships. The list of proposed names was then revised and approved by the Board and voted on by the Council.
After the dissolution of the Membership Committee, the position of Membership secretary (later Registrar) was established. Cecil Adkins served as Registrar from about 1969 to 1978 and ran the membership office out of the North Texas State University. Adkins was responsible for processing new members, collecting dues, and maintaining the membership list, which he eventually computerized. Mailing labels came from this office as well. This correspondence is primarily between Cecil Adkins and the Treasurer and Business Manager, first Otto Albrecht and later Alvin Johnson, regarding membership accounts. Member letters are mainly letters between the members and the secretary, regarding the status of their membership or posing a question. Also included are forms and form letters, membership cards, and other materials relating the membership. Directories were published periodically in the Journal, and eventually brought out annually as a separate publication.
AMS-50: In honor of the Society's fiftieth anniversary the AMS resolved to establish a dissertation fellowship for doctoral students in musicology. This began a long-term fund raising efforts, in which the campaign committee, with the help of an NEH matching grant raised over $500,000 For most of this period D. Kern Holoman was the energetic chair of the committee, generating a great volume of correspondence with prospective donors as well as organizing fund raising events and publicity mailings. By 1986 the AMS-50 Fellowship Committee was able to consider their first batch of applicants. This correspondence primarily includes correspondence between committee members and between officers and committee members, as well as correspondence with recipients. In addition, submissions from candidates for the 1990 year are also included, giving an idea of the committees work of evaluating and eliminating perspective dissertations. Controversy over gender bias in the appointment of committee members and in the awarding of fellowships troubled this committee for several years. A Scrapbook of clippings and photos related to the AMS-50 benefit at the Annual Meeting in Cleveland in 1986 has been removed to the Memorabilia Series.
Awards: Over the years several generous gifts and bequests allowed the AMS to establish annual awards. The Einstein Award, established in 1967, was made possible by Eva Einstein in honor of her father Alfred Einstein, to be awarded annually to the best article published by a young scholar. This award suffered much criticism over the vague terms of its requirements (this criticism included allegations of sexism), and underwent several revisions. The Noah Greenberg Award was established anonymously in 1976 in honor of Noah Greenberg, to be awarded annually to a performance group. The Kinkeldey Award was endowed with a bequest from Otto Kinkeldey to be awarded annually to a book published on a musicological topic. The Paul A. Pisk Prize was first awarded in 1991, for the best scholarly paper by a graduate student. Though the committees in charge of awarding these awards were sometimes appointed a year or two in advance, this material is all filed chronologically by the year in which the award was granted. Correspondence includes the establishment and revision of guidelines for the awards, discussion of the candidates by the committees, complaints directed to the committees, correspondence with donors and recipients. Also included are copies of award citations, blank samples of awards certificates, and historical lists of awards recipients. Recordings by two winners of the Greenberg award can be found in Box 119 with Memorabilia.
Nominating: The nominating committee was appointed to nominate candidates for officers of the society and for council members. The list of nominees was submitted to the Board for approval, and then voted on by the membership as a whole. This committee influenced the direction the society headed from year to year in its choice of candidates. In compiling a list of nominees, the committee hoped to find the most distinguished scholars in their field, while also presenting slates balanced between men and women, with a representation of diverse specializations, institutional affiliations, and regional distribution. The relative success or failure of the committee to achieve this goal was constantly under debate. The records of the nominating committee include discussion of candidates, sample ballots, candidate biographies, election counts, and miscellaneous election material.
Special Committees: In addition to permanent committees with long-standing functions, presidents occasionally appointed ad hoc or supervisory committees. While some of these committees served only a brief period, others significantly influenced the policies of the Society. As a scholarly organization the AMS was of course concerned to monitor the development of the field of music education, especially to ensure that graduate programs instituted and maintained high standards for their training. Committees related to music education include: Curriculum and Accreditation, GRE Committee, Graduate Studies, Graduate Standards, Interdisciplinary Studies, Music Education in Secondary Schools, and Musicology.
The various committees relating to careers reflect the job shortage beginning in the late 1970s and demonstrate the growing awareness on the part of the AMS of their responsibility to guide young Ph.D.'s into the professional world. These committees include Academic and Non-Academic Employment, Career Options, Career Related Issues, and Hiring Procedures. The Committee on Academic and Non-Academic Employment undertook a project of publishing a handbook of career guidelines, under the supervision of Cynthia Verba.
Some committees arose from concern over discrimination on the job market, and a heightened sensitivity to under-represented groups. The Committees on Cultural Diversity, on Outreach, on the Status of Women, and on Minorities, were all extremely vocal. While at times they may have encouraged a kind of hysterical paranoia among some committee members, in general these committees promoted a more balanced representation of interests among officers and awardees. The Committee on Committees was responsible for drawing up an explanation of the functions of each committee, and describing rules of appointment and rotation. The U.S. Bicentennial Committee designed a project in honor of the American Bicentennial in 1976. The Committee's project, the publication of the Complete Works of William Billings, later blossomed into the Committee on the Publication of American Music (see Publications). Other miscellaneous committees include the Committees on the American Institute in Rome, on Automated Bibliography, on a Central Business Office, the Collegium Committee, the Committee on Editorial Policy, on the Encyclopedia Project, on the Kennedy Center Festival Conferences, the Ad Hoc Committee on Local Arrangements, the Committees on Reorganization, on Reorganization of the Council, on Reprints, on Technology, and on the Translations Center.
In addition to correspondence among individual committees and reports of those committees are lists of committee appointments, form letters to committee chairs, and other miscellaneous material.
The Publications projects of the AMS are perhaps the most concrete way the Society exerted its influence in musicological scholarship. The Publications Committee met to formulate projects, give editorial input, or select projects for their financial support. This committee initially took on Publications projects of their own, in which committee members served as a virtual editorial staff. These projects often took decades and outlived individual editors. Several of the works published by the AMS are invaluable additions to the field of scholarship, including the Collected works of Ockeghem, edited by Dragan Plamenac, The Complete Works of John Dunstable, edited by Manfred Bukofzer, and Joseph Kerman's Elizabethan Madrigal. The New Josquin Edition was jointed undertaken with a Dutch Press (the VNM). Hans Tischler's Earliest Motets was another project that spanned the terms of several different committee chairs. The records of the Publications Committee include correspondence among committee members, editorial comments from the members to authors, submissions, contracts, and drafts. Page proofs of the Ockeghem work have been removed to Oversize in Box 120.
The Works of William Billings was undertaken by the U.S. Bicentennial Committee. It was out of this project that the Committee on the Publication of American Music was born in 1981. This committee included such prominent Americanists as Richard Crawford and H. Wiley Hitchcock. Cynthia Hoover of the Smithsonian was another dedicated member. This committee made grant application to the NEH for a long-term project to publish monographic studies on American music. The records of COPAM contain correspondence, proposals, NEH grant applications, and contracts. Though the Journal of the American Musicological Society often functioned as a separate body, and though its records are contained in a separate collection, the AMS Board did make some basic organizational decisions, including the appointment and dismissal of Editors and the Editorial Board. This sub-series contains correspondence between the president of the Society and the Journal Editor and Editorial Board, Reports on the Journal, and papers relating to producing the Journal's Index. The Society sent out a Newsletter from as early as 1944 to circulate news and information to its members. It was initially thought that the Journal would replace the Newsletter, but it soon became clear that there was material enough for both publications. While the Journal printed scholarly articles and reviews, the Newsletter printed messages from the President, reports of committees, schedules of annual meetings, budgets, obituaries, and other news. The Newsletter editor collected material from officers and committees and published two issues each year. This subseries contains correspondence between officers and the Newsletter editor, drafts, undated submissions, and a mailing list. Material generated by the Journal editor and editorial board can be found in Ms. Coll. 222.
The Society also undertook publications projects for the interests of its own members, such as the Abstracts of Papers and Bulletins, which preceded the Journal, and also the AMS Anniversary Booklet written by Richard Crawford. In addition, they released non-scholarly reference pamphlets, usually funded by the Publications Committee Budget. Included in these were the long-running Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology, first compiled by Helen Hewitt, and later by Cecil Adkins, The Report of the International Musicological Society Congress in 1977, and the listing of placement opportunities. Other general publications material includes lists of publications, budgets, copyright certificates, publications orders, permissions, and order books.
Annual Meetings and Events
The central event on the AMS calendar was the Annual Meeting. These meetings included the presentation of scholarly papers, concerts, banquets, meetings of the board and council, and the presentation of awards. The AMS held its first Annual Meeting in Philadelphia in 1935. This meeting was held jointly with the MTNA. Throughout its history the AMS met with other societies, both to defray costs and to encourage an interchange of ideas. The AMS frequently met with the College Music Society, the Society for Ethnomusicology and the Society for Music Theory. On several occasions the AMS combined their annual meeting with a meeting of the IMS, for which they played host. This collection contains substantial records for three IMS congresses: the New York Congress in 1939; the New York Congress in 1961; and the Berkeley Congress in 1977. A videotape of the performance of "Apollo and the Nine Muses" can be found with the box of memorabilia. While for the first decade of its existence the Society held most of their conferences on the East Coast, they soon instituted a policy of rotating the meetings among different regions of the country.
As the size of the membership grew, these annual events became more and more difficult to organize. Though the first annual meetings were planned only months before they happened, in later years the planning began as early as six or seven years ahead of schedule. The planning for an annual meeting was undertaken by a group of committees, in conjunction with the officers and Board: the Program Committee, and the Local Committee, and the Performance Committee, each appointed by the President. The Program Committee was made up of members from across the country, including the chair of the Committee for the previous years, and the chair of the Committee for the following year. This committee was responsible for reading and selecting abstracts of the papers to be presented. The Performance Committee was responsible for scheduling concerts during the conference. The Local Committee bore the brunt of the work; this committee comprised regionally based members, whose responsibility it was to coordinate hotel accommodations, collect registrations, and take care of practical matters.
Material available for a given annual meeting varies in quantity from a single program to three boxes of papers regarding every aspect of the meeting. This material includes correspondence between officers and program committee members, arrangements with hotels and exhibitors, programs and drafts, insurance forms, registration forms, and proposed abstracts.
As the Society grew from a relatively local organization to a body of more than 3,000 individuals across the U.S. and Canada, it formed into smaller regional organizations or chapters. These individual chapters held events and conferences of their own on a more frequent basis, perhaps once or twice a month. Chapters were better equipped to recruit members locally, and to address the concerns of individual members. While members continued to pay dues directly to the AMS, some chapters collected supplementary dues. Additionally, the AMS paid chapters a per capita allotment to finance events and administration. To monitor the size and activities of chapters, the secretary collected reports from each chapter once a year, detailing financial records, membership, officers, and organized events. For additional monetary support, chapters might apply to the Chapter Fund Committee, whose job it was to evaluate proposals and award money.
Many of these chapters grew up spontaneously around a city or university, as a result of an individual member's initiative. In consequence, the system of regional division lacked order; the Midwest Chapter spanned a thousand miles and drew hundreds of members, while other Chapters had difficulty gathering any members at all. In 1969, President William S. Newman formed The Chapters and Regions Committee to address this problem. This committee surveyed all existing chapters and proposed a plan to redraw the geographical Chapter divisions. Unfortunately, many chapters were resistant to change, and while some reforms were adapted, many members were offended; other chapters virtually ignored the changes.
Material in this series includes correspondence between the AMS and chapter officers, chapter reports, programs of chapter events, and lists of chapter officers. Additionally, records of the Chapters and Regions Committee include correspondence, questionnaires distributed to chapters, and the final report of the committee. The records of the Chapter Fund committee include correspondence between the committee and chapter officers, as well as between the committee chair and the treasurer.
The Society depended on member dues for its basic operating expenses. Additional sources of income include gifts and bequests by members, some of which funded particular projects; others supported annual prizes. Additionally the Society received grant support from the ACLS and the NEH. The financial aspects of the Society were managed in early years by the Treasurer; Alvin Johnson later took on this role in combination with that of Executive Director. It was his job to prepare budgets, file tax reports, pay bills, distribute reimbursements, fill publications orders and manage the endowment fund. This series includes financial statements, audits, tax reports, treasurer's reports, and receipts.
This series includes the Society's certificate of incorporation, along with its revision in 1942. Also included are copies of the constitution and drafts of amendments, together with correspondence regarding these amendments. Miscellaneous papers belonging to the secretary are also included, along with descriptions of the duties of various officers, and historical lists of the terms of officers, board members and council members.
The archive was established around 1970, when Clayton Henderson was appointed Archivist. This subseries contains correspondence with Henderson regarding the archive and the history of the Society that Henderson intended to write. Also included are notes regarding the papers, notes on interviews with senior members, copies of printed histories of the Society, and photocopies of early papers. From the late 1980s, when the collection was moved to the University of Pennsylvania, there are letters of negotiation and legal documents, as well as reports on the status of the collection.
 Letter from John Roberts to Jane Stevens, June 1, 1987.
Gift of American Musicological Society, 1989-2009.
For a complete listing of correspondents, do the following title search in Franklin: American Musicological Society Records.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Rebecca C. Smith, Leah Germer
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
To consult this collection, readers must obtain written permission of either the current President or Executive Director of the American Musicological Society. Minutes are restricted for 50 year following the date of their creation.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.