January 19, 2022

New Digitization Projects: Penn Libraries Receives CLIR Grant to Digitize Portions of Marian Anderson Archive

From Penn Libraries (U. of Pennsylvania):

There are 525 boxes that contain the personal diaries, programs, and scrapbooks of the world-renowned singer Marian Anderson, all bequeathed to Penn. Most of the cartons are in a storage facility in New Jersey, but they will soon be on their way back to campus.

A new grant will allow the Penn Libraries to digitize portions of the collection, making the personal papers of the Philadelphia-born contralto available to the public. Also included will be recordings of personal interviews and home studio performances.


The newly digitized items will be hosted on OPenn, the Penn Libraries’ platform for openly published and digitized cultural heritage materials.

The digitization will start in June and be completed by May 2019, conducted by the Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text & Image, McKnight says. An estimated 5,000 individual items will be included in the project.

The collection to be digitized, spanning most of Anderson’s life as a singer and social justice advocate, has 1,200 recital and performance programs, 146 notebooks and diaries, 34 scrapbooks, 34 interview transcriptions, and 277 hours of recordings.

The grant is through the innovative program “Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives: Enabling New Scholarship through Increasing Access to Unique Materials,” supported by the Council on Library and Information Resources and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


With a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Penn Libraries in 1996 created a finding aid, or guide, to the archival collection. Although most intellectual property rights were transferred to Penn, many commercial recordings and printed materials are still protected by U.S. copyright law, and the librarians must be careful about what they make available through this new project grant, [David] McKnight [director of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library] says.

Read the Complete Announcement

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.