May 16, 2022

Digital Collections: Scrapbooks From the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Documenting the Civil Rights Era are Now Available Online

From the Digital Library of Georgia:

In partnership with the Georgia State University Special Collections and Archives (Music and Broadcasting Collections) the Digital Library of Georgia (DLG) has digitized 24 scrapbooks from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) Collection dating from 1945-1985 that are now available online as part of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Collection.

This work was done as part of a competitive digitization grant intended to broaden partner participation in the DLG and provide digitization services costing up to $7500 for historic collections from non-profit Georgia cultural heritage institutions.

In 2017, the ASO donated its institutional records to GSU Special Collections and Archives. Among these records were the scrapbooks, which include newspaper clippings of concert previews, reviews, and highlights of guest performers, composers, and conductors, as well as photographs, advertising materials, and organizational records such as memos and correspondence.

evin Fleming, the popular music and culture archivist at Georgia State Libraries Special Collections describes the significance of this material that documents the arrival of the ASO’s Music Director Robert Shaw in the late 1960s, and the effects of the Civil Rights movement on the orchestra:

“The few scrapbooks from this time period show similar changes as it relates to the orchestra. Nick Jones, ASO’s former program annotator, indicates that ‘under Shaw’s leadership, the ASO worked to improve its connections with minority communities, including actively seeking African American instrumentalists to fill vacancies in the orchestra. There are few Black soloists, instrumental or vocal, who did not perform with the ASO during Shaw’s tenure, and the Spelman and Morehouse College Glee Clubs have frequently been heard. In connection with Morehouse, the orchestra in 1972 gave the world-premiere staging of the first surviving opera by a black composer, Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha. Additionally, T. J. Anderson was the ASO’s Composer-in-Residence for the 1969-1970 season and works by African American composers including Anderson, Ulysses Kay, and George Walker were performed.’”

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