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 the 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 in performance and music instruction. 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 IMG, however, its American offspring could not survive independently, and all formal organization of musicologists temporarily died out. The International Musicology 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 music instruction. The music community felt a growing need for an organization devoted specifically to musicological research. The AMS grew out of a group of men and women calling themselves the "New York Musicological Society." This Society decided to broaden the scope of their musicological interests and expand to a national scale. Otto Kinkeldey was named the first AMS President, and the Society held its first meeting in Philadelphia in 1935.
Growth and Recognition
During the 1940s, 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 immigrants invigorated the scholarly community in the United States and broadened the scope of American resources and scholarship. Some 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. 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 require 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 from the membership. By 1944, realizing 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. The distinction between these two categories, though, was abandoned a few years later. By 1997 the membership had reached more than 3,000.
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 a 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. The majority of the supplementary records for JAMS are under the editorships of Paula Higgins, Thomas Grey. The job of the 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 increase membership dues. The Executive Board constantly struggled with editors and the University of Chicago 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) was a source of embarrassment to some officers.
Trends in Higher Education
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. It fell to scholarly organizations such as the AMS to monitor the methods and means of the NEH for supporting music scholarship, both by advising and protesting the actions of these groups. Beginning in the 1970s and continuing through the records of this collection, 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: "MUSA: The Music of the United States of America."
Over the years changes in the climate of American higher education have been reflected in the operations of the AMS. The Society 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 struggled to find their place in academic communities. The AMS constantly discussed and redefined the parameters of the field and looked towards the future of the profession. 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, organizing committees and mentoring programs to assist new young professionals. Outside the field of musicology, the AMS played a larger role in monitoring trends in American intellectual life in general and in implementing change in the American University system. These trends led to changing concerns for the AMS as well. Rising awareness of minorities and women's issues, multiculturalism, 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.
Board CorrespondenceThe Board of Directors is the primary decision-making group of the AMS. Each board member serves two years, with staggered terms. This series includes correspondence among the President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Council Secretary, either a Past-President or President-Elect, and six Directors-at-Large. When Bob Judd became employed as the Executive Director in 1998, he too was included in board correspondence. The correspondence of the Board generally reflects the debates and discussions of the administration. Often this includes circular letters soliciting the opinions of board members, or ballots requiring a vote. Board authority oversaw most aspects of the AMS, including concerns, complaints, and requests raised by committees or members. If the President received a query from a member or committee, the President would seek the advice of the Board before responding. The Board also determined where annual meetings would take place, how money should be spent, and how to deal with problems in the membership. In addition to these group conversations, the Executive Director and Council Secretary regularly kept the Board abreast of membership and business news of the Society. Names of Board members can be found in Administrative, Lists of Officers.
General CorrespondenceThe correspondence in this sub-series arrived to the President of the Society from outsiders. Usually these are letters regarding contemporary scholarship, and suggestions for discussions at annual meetings. In 2001, Robert Walser presented a proposal for a "Joseph Kerman Award" for music criticism and interpretation. Suggestions such as these from the mouths of the membership comprise the bulk of this sub-series. Also included are letters to and from members regarding general membership complaints (dues increases, decisions to leave the society, dissatisfaction with candidates, etc.) In addition to these member-based letters, between 1995 and 1996 presidents Philip Gossett and James Webster corresponded with Maryanne Malek from the University of Pennsylvania regarding the employment of Jacqueline Bruzio and with attorney Michael Salmanson seeking legal counsel. Other correspondence in this series includes invitations to inaugural events, to which the AMS was expected to send a representative. Correspondence filed elsewhere in the collection includes: letters from members simply relating to membership (Membership); correspondence among committee members, or between committee chairmen and officers (Committees); correspondence among the publication committee, between the editors and officers, and between the publications committee and authors and publishers (Publications); correspondence among arrangement committees, or between arrangement committees and hotels, insurance brokers, exhibitors, etc. (Meetings); correspondence between chapter officers and the Society (Chapters); correspondence with affiliated organizations and officers of the Society (Affiliations); and correspondence relating directly to the Society's by-laws (Administrative).
MinutesThe Board is the primary decision-making body of the Society. The Board meets once in the spring, at the site of that year's upcoming annual meeting, and once at the fall annual meeting itself. At the annual meeting, two board sessions are held: one for the outgoing board at the beginning of the meeting weekend, and one for the incoming board at the end of the weekend. In all cases the President collects items for the agenda throughout the year, sometimes at the request of members, and sometimes of his own initiative. This includes periodical reports from 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 drafts to the Board 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 Business and Council Meetings. This series includes minutes of the Society from 1980-2002, along with agendas, drafts and notes. Copies of Board meeting minutes from 1980-2000 are also available on CD in the electronic data box at the end of the collection.
CommitteesAMS-50: In honor of the Society's fiftieth anniversary the AMS resolved to establish a dissertation fellowship for doctoral students in musicology. In 2002, to honor the life of Alvin H. Johnson, a long-time active member and officer of the AMS, the award was renamed ALH-AMS-50 award. Also in 2002, the AMS conducted a demographic survey of AMS-50 award recipients. Correspondence in this sub-series primarily includes correspondence between the committee chair and Society's officers or other committee members. Also included are drafts of the survey, reports of the survey, applications and lists of winners. Information on the applicants for the 2005 AMS-50 award can be found on CD in the electronic data box at the end of the collection. Awards: Over the years several generous gifts and bequests allowed the AMS to establish annual awards. A gift from Howard Mayer Brown began the Brown fellowship, to be awarded to promising students from disadvantaged minority groups for graduate study in musicology. After four years of fund-raising for this fellowship, the first award was granted in 1995. 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 by a young scholar. 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. Correspondence is arranged chronologically for each award and includes revising the guidelines for the awards, discussion of the candidates by committee members, updates on committee activity from the committee chair to officers, complaints directed to the committees, and correspondence with recipients and donors. Also included are guidelines, lists of winners, and committee members. Nominating Committees: The general 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 lists 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 nominating committee for honorary and corresponding members proposed individuals to receive honorary membership, and foreign individuals to receive corresponding membership. The list of proposed names was then revised and approved by the Board and voted on by the Council. The candidates must receive 2/3 approval from the Council in order to achieve honorary or corresponding membership status. The records of the nominating committees include discussion of the candidates among AMS members, the AMS President, nominating committee members, and the Council Secretary, as well as 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. Philip Gossett called for a re-examination of the ethics statement and appointed a committee to oversee this project. James Webster similarly appointed an ad hoc committee to closely examine the function and effectiveness of the annual meeting program committee. 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 concerned with the development of the field of musical education, especially to ensure that graduate programs instituted and maintained high standards for their training. In addition to their concern for musicologists in graduate school, members of the AMS recognized a responsibility to guide those young scholars into the professional world. Correspondence of the Committees on Career-Related Issues, on Graduate Education, and on Professional Development and Membership reflect these scholarly concerns. Some committees arose from concern over discrimination on the job market and a heightened sensitivity to under-represented groups. The Committees on Cultural Diversity and on the Status of Women were especially vocal. In general these committees promoted a more balanced representation of interests among officers and awareness. The AMSlist Committee grew out of the Committee on Technology and the Council Committee on Outreach in 1995. Kern Holoman, Tom Mathieson, and Mark Brill headed a committee that would expand the Society's networking capabilities by connecting all members of the Society through a moderated musicological listserv. In addition to correspondence among individual committees and officers are a reference document for the Board on committee responsibility, lists of committee appointments, general membership committee participation, and other miscellaneous material.
PublicationsThe 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 and evaluate projects and give editorial input to authors. Committee projects often spanned decades and sometimes outlived individual editors. In 1988 the Committee established a long-term project entitled AMS Studies, a series of scholarly monographs. Other large projects the Society undertook in this collection were the Works of William Billings, compiled in three volumes, a reissuing of the Collected Works of Ockeghem, and The New Josquin Edition. In addition to developing their own publications, the Committee also selected certain projects for AMS financial support. Authors applied for subventions from the committee, the committee evaluated their scholarship, and chose to either grant or deny monetary assistance. The records of the committee include correspondence with officers, reports of the committee, minutes of publication meetings, editorial comments between committee members to authors, drafts, submissions, and contracts. Additional (perhaps duplicate) committee correspondence, under chairman Walter Frisch from 1999-2004, can be found in the electronic data box. More drafts of the Billings work, both music and text, fall at the end of the collection in the Oversize Music box. Billings Vol. 3 drafts and notes can also be found on 5 inch floppy discs in the electronic data box. Two authors who wrote requesting subventions, Leta Miller and Mark Katz, included a CD with their paper documents. These CDs can be found in the electronic data box at the end of the collection. The main project for the Committee on the Publication of American Music was a monograph series called MUSA, Music of the United States, begun in 1981. MUSA developed as a joint project between the Sonneck Society for American Music and the AMS, with a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities. Prominent musicologist Richard Crawford served as its editor in chief. The records of COPAM include committee 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 decisions: the appointment, evaluations, and dismissal of editors and the editorial board, other personnel changes, the Journal's format, addressing members' complaints, how to increase readership, etc. In 1995, the Society formed an ad hoc committee to examine the publication of the Journal and opted to hire an outside press to publish JAMS. AMS negotiated with five university presses before deciding on the University of Chicago Press. At this time, a liaison for the Press became involved in JAMS/AMS correspondence. This sub-series contains correspondence between the president of the Society (James Webster) and the Journal editor and publisher, correspondence with university presses, contract negotiations with the University of Chicago Press, reports on the Journal, and papers relating to the Journal's Index. Twice a year the Society sent out a newsletter. Unlike the Journal that printed scholarly articles and reviews, the Newsletter printed more general, member-based news. Presidential messages, obituaries, reports of committees, budgets, annual meeting news, and schedules appeared in this publication. This sub-series contains correspondence of between the officers and the editor and complaints from members about certain sections in the newsletter. In 1997, an obituary notice from member Margaret Bent sparked the formation of an ad hoc committee on the newsletter's obituary column. Obituary notices were later circulated on AMSlist. These notices are filed with the correspondence of the Obituary committee. The AMS, along with the International Musicological Society, also sponsored a yearly publication, edited by Cecil Adkins, featuring that year's Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology. As the Society transitioned to a more web-based membership (with the advent of the AMSlist and the use of online journal database J-STOR to promote JAMS), Tom Mathieson took on the project of putting DDM online as well. These papers include correspondence with Adkins and Matheison, as well as copies of the DDM publication. General records for the publications series also contains correspondence and contracts with publication publishers E.C. Shirmer Music Company and A-R Editions, Inc., as well as lists of publications and financial charts.
Annual MeetingsThe central event on the AMS calendar was the Annual Meeting, held each year in the fall. Occasionally the AMS met with other like-minded organizations. In 1987 and 1995, the College Music Society and the Center for Black Music Research co-hosted meetings with the AMS. At the 1997 Phoenix meeting, AMS co-hosted its meeting with the Society for Music Theory. In 2002, sixteen societies including the AMS met in Toronto for a mega-meeting titled "Musical Intersections." These annual meetings included presentation of scholarly papers, concerts, banquets, meetings of the board and council, and the presentation of awards. As the size of the membership grew, planning for these meetings became increasingly complex. The President appointed a program committee and a local arrangements committee two or three years in advance of the meeting itself. The Local Arrangements Committee, working with the officers, comprised members of AMS who lived near the meeting site. This committee coordinated hotel accommodations, collected registrations, and took care of practical matters. For the 1996 meeting, scheduled to take place in Cincinnati, the committee was instrumental in keeping the AMS informed on sensitive political matters in the city, prompting the AMS to move that year's meeting to Baltimore. Program Committee members had a broader regional representation. These members read and selected abstracts of the papers to be presented at the meeting. The 1998 meeting in Boston offered a particularly ambitious and controversial program with a focus on Shostakovich as a communist sympathizer. This series contains the papers for meetings held from 1981-2003. Material available for a given meeting varies in quantity from one program and an accompanying letter to two boxes of papers regarding every stage of planning. This material includes correspondence between officers and committee members, arrangements with hotels and exhibitors, and programs. In 1998, President Ruth Solie suggested a Presidential Forum be held at the annual meeting, in lieu of a Presidential Address. The series also includes materials pertaining to this forum.
ChaptersAs 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 smaller regional organizations of 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 activity 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. Chapters elected a regular Council member every three years and appointed a student representative who served a one-year term. 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. The materials for most of these chapters take up no more than a few folders. Much of the correspondence is between the Council or Board Secretary and the Chapter President, with a few letters to the AMS President addressing the concerns of individual chapters. However, the complete records of the Midwest Chapter dating from 1972 are found in this series. In addition to correspondence between the Chapter President and the officers of the AMS, these chapter records include a great deal more internal chapter correspondence as well as a historical review of the chapter compiled by Herbert S. Livingston. Material in this series includes correspondence between chapter members and AMS officers, chapter reports, programs of chapter events, and lists of chapter officers. The records of the Chapter Fund Committee include correspondence between committee and chapter officers, as well as between the committee chair and the AMS treasurer.
AffiliationsAMS maintained close relationships with other organizations involved in the study of musicology, as well as other scholarly organizations. In 1951, the American Council of Learned Societies admitted the AMS as a constituent member, giving them their final validation as a scholarly organization. It is through the ACLS that the AMS expressed its views on arts and education in America. The ACLS and the National Endowment for the Humanities assisted the AMS with travel or research grants for musicologists. Some affiliations corresponded with the Society about a more collaborative relationship. The Royal Music Association, for example, wrote in 1997-1999 regarding reciprocal advertising links between RMA and AMS in their respective journals. The College Music Society, National Recording Preservation Board, and the International Musicological Society invited the AMS to send a representative to their meetings, and the Kurt Weill Foundation administered the annual Weill Prize and announced the recipient at the AMS annual business meeting. The Society also occasionally co-sponsored its annual meeting with one of its affiliates. AMS Presidents took special care to establish working relationships with like-minded national organizations such as the Mexican Musicological Society and the Italian Musicological Society. This series consists of correspondence with and about these affiliations, correspondence regarding collaborative projects or meetings, and general information and pamphlets about the affiliated organizations themselves.
FinancialThe 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 gifts. Additionally the Society received grant support from the ACLS and the NEH. The financial aspects, after the death of Alvin Johnson, were managed by the Treasurer and the Executive Director. Rebecca Balzer and James Ladewig functioned as the Treasurer for the majority of this collection; Bob Judd acted as the primary Executive Director. This series includes the financial reports presented at the annual meetings. These reports include budgets, reconciliation reports, mutual fund reports, statements of current operations, fund activity yearly comparisons, publication reserve incomes and receipts, and reserve fund incomes reports. In addition to these financial reports, this series includes audits and proposals from accounting firms.
AdministrativeThis series includes the by-laws of the Society, along with the correspondence of the emending process in 1997. Historical lists of Board, Council, and general members are also included, as well as descriptions of the duties of various officers. The position of Executive Director became available in 1997; resumes of persons applying for position are also included. The archive was established around 1970, when Clayton Henderson was appointed Archivist. This sub-series contains correspondence about the papers held at the University of Pennsylvania, managed by Marjorie Hassen. In addition to this correspondence are various papers regarding the history of the Society, including a manuscript written by Richard Crawford about the first fifty years of the AMS.
Special TopicsThis series includes the records relating to the Gay and Lesbian Study Group, the Copyright Bill, and the tribute to Alvin H. Johnson upon his death. The GLSG proposed an endowment fund/award, named for Philip Brett, founder of the group and a member of the AMS. The yearly recipient, selected by the Brett Award committee, is awarded for his/her exceptional musicological work in the field of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender/transexual studies. Most of the correspondence in this sub-series regards the proposal and follow-up for this award, as well as newsletters of the Group. Alvin H. Johnson, the first AMS Executive Director, lifelong musician, and music historian, died in 2000. The Society celebrated his life and mourned his death in 2001 with a tribute in Philadelphia. A year later, the AMS-50 award was renamed for Alvin Johnson, to further commemorate his dedication to the Society. Correspondence regarding the planning of this tribute, as well as an invitation and the speeches for the tribute comprise this sub-series. The copyright bill correspondence regards the AMS reaction to the US copyright extension. The American Council of Learned Societies and the American Research Council urge its members to keep informed on issues of copyright and fair use. The Educational Multimedia Fair Use Guidelines Development Committee met beginning in 1994 with the expressed purpose of drafting fair use guidelines for students and educators.
Gift of the American Musicological Society, 1997-2009.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Leah Germer and Mary Margaret Romero; Sam Sfirri (digital content)
- Finding Aid Date
- 2009; 2023
- Access Restrictions
To consult this collection, readers must obtain written permission of either the current President or Executive Director of the American Musicological Society. The minutes are restricted for fifty years from the date of their creation.
The bulk of this collection is open for research use; however, access to original audio/visual materials and computer files (located in the last two series of this collection) is restricted. The Kislak Center will provide access to the information on these materials from duplicate master files. If the original does not already have a copy, it will 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 is about two weeks for up to five items and three to seven weeks for more than five items. Please contact Reprographic Services (firstname.lastname@example.org) for cost estimates and ordering. Once digital items are received, researchers will have access to the files on a dedicated computer in the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. Researchers should be aware of specifics of copyright law and act accordingly.
- 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.