Gender, Archives, and Musical Culture

Adapted from Tulane University GESS 4500

The Gulf South is a region rich in records and manuscripts upon which scholars base their work. Here, one can find inheritances of Spanish and French colonial records; Catholic registries of birth, marriages, and deaths; and a notarial culture that gave precise notices of transfers of property, wills, marriage contracts, and other declarations. How is music found in these written and visual riches? And are women and men musicians represented differently in these tangible steppingstones to the past? This course explores these questions through biographical and subject inquiries. In visits to local archives, work in these archives, class readings, and audio and visual examples, the class is introduced to particular cultures of archives, gender, and music. The chapters here give a sampling of this work.

  • Susan Tucker

    Susan Tucker

    Curator of Books and Records

    As Curator of Books and Records, Susan Tucker oversees the Newcomb Archives and the Vorhoff Library. Her research interests concern gender, material culture, and archival studies. These interests have extended from a large-scale oral history project on domestic workers – Telling Memories Among Southern Women (LSU Press, 1988) – to exhibits, publications, and projects concerned with how people remember the past through photographs, albums, and scrapbooks. Some of this work culminated in The Scrapbook in American Life (Temple University Press, 2006) co-edited by Tucker, Katherine Ott, and Patricia Buckler. That book won the 2006 Pioneer Society Award as the best-edited book in the field of North American material culture.

Course Chapters

  • 1 Archives: Definitions, Universal and…

    Archives: Definitions, Universal and Local

    About This Chapter:

    The word archives usually conjures up either a sense of old things or the accumulations of documents, more and more often,…

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    Chapter 1 Archives: Definitions, Universal and Local

    The word archives usually conjures up either a sense of old things or the accumulations of documents, more and more often, electronic documents. But the definitions of archives are actually both wider and more straightforward than these senses.

    According to the Society of American Archivists glossary, archives are:

    1. Materials created or received by a person, family, or organization, public or private, in the conduct of their affairs and preserved because of the enduring value contained in the information they contain or as evidence of the functions and responsibilities of their creator, especially those materials maintained using the principles of provenance, original order, and collective control; permanent records.
    2. The division within an organization responsible for maintaining the organization’s records of enduring value.
    3. An organization that collects the records of individuals, families, or other organizations; a collecting archives.
    4. The professional discipline of administering such collections and organizations.
    5. The building (or portion thereof) housing archival collections.
    6. A published collection of scholarly papers, especially as a periodical.

    Modern archives were formed around principles of accountability and evidence generally dated to the French Revolution (1789-1795), but parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama even today retain aspects of religious and civil cultures that placed an emphasis on recordkeeping in the early 1700s. The priests and nuns, military men, and adventurers who settled the area left traces of the templates of inscription that made up their societies. They wrote letters home, they were part of a criminal and civil legal system that required documentation, and they acted as commercial agents for themselves or others. While later local traditions of recordkeeping followed the same patterns as elsewhere in the nation, especially after 1804, these newer records and manuscripts were folded into previously established beliefs about, and a street knowledge of, archives unlike any others in the U.S.

    Music is not often found in the early eighteenth-century records. The earliest judicial records do, however, show a declaration of the rights given slaves to sing and dance, and a notice of songs in a case involving a tavern owner. The nineteenth- century and twentieth-century musical cultures, on the other hand, are represented in regional archives in diverse forms: sheet music, religious scores, programs from recitals and concerts, advertisements for music lessons, recorded sound, photographs, and oral histories.

    If you look at any book on New Orleans culture, you will find citations to these record forms and the archives that house them. On the other hand, most histories are written as if all archives are always open, always available, plentiful, and unmediated. The archives is a hidden partner, or at least one found only in the acknowledgements and the small print of footnotes. This partial concealment creates the impression of direct contact between the scholar and the past. Yet all archives are gathered and grow only because of years of processes of selection and rejection, and of heroic retention in face of obstacles such as humidity, disastrous storms and fires, and more mundane threats such as lack of space.

    Similarly, archives are never without the biases of their societies. If music was not a priority to those who wrote records in the earliest days of the area’s past, neither, until quite recently, was the presence of women thought important enough to enter the archival record. Scholars of women in music have learned that they must look not only to what is within an archives but also to what is missing from an archives. Only after 1970 did scholars undertake such an approach. The current task for scholars is to consider also the many meanings of femininity and masculinity. Following their lead, we might also ask how new scholars in turn build a different type of archives as they deposit their research notes, their oral histories, their photographs, their recordings for others later to use.

    • Spanish Record 1790: Gender, Archives, and Musical Culture
  • 2 Forces Shaping the growth…

    Forces Shaping the growth of Archives

    About This Chapter:

    Archives, as we know them today, grew from two traditions of collecting: one was the accumulation of paper records by governmental…

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    Chapter 2 Forces Shaping the growth of Archives

    Archives, as we know them today, grew from two traditions of collecting: one was the accumulation of paper records by governmental bodies; the second was located in the gathering of unpublished papers by libraries especially during the nineteenth century. The first (the public archives tradition) was transformed by the 1899 creation of the Public Archives Commission of the American Historical Association; the latter (the manuscript tradition) continued to grow into departments in libraries called Special Collections and most often concerned itself with the papers of businesses, organizations, families, and writers. In other words, the two archival traditions concerned public and private papers.

    In the mid to late twentieth century, these two traditions began to merge, as more and more social historians began to ask how the records of government and the private papers of individuals and groups worked in tandem to tell the story of the past. At the same time, this paradigm shift in knowledge was accompanied by technological changes (first such advances as the telegraph system, the telephone, the typewriter, record players, film, duplicating machines, and finally computers). The twentieth century brought also a sense of urgency about the preservation of records. Not only did technology change the form of records but two world wars and consequent reporting on the loss of documents created a concerted effort to save existing records and manuscripts, to safeguard their survival from future times of destruction.

    The archives of music grew within these boundaries. In addition, the archives of music have always been influenced by a realization that no paper record and indeed no recording can exactly duplicate the sounds we hear. This sense of the inimitability of sound, as well as a realization that not all musical traditions survive the test of time, were what motivated John and Alan Lomax, father and son, to set out in the early 1930s to record work songs, reels, ballads, and blues. They worked in conjunction with the Library of Congress’s Archive of American Folk Song, established in the institution’s Music Division in 1928. With a different concern but an equally pressing one, the International Association of Music Librarians was founded in 1951 largely in response to the loss of documentary musical heritage of many European countries.

    In New Orleans, music collections were established in the 1930s and 1940s, especially in local colleges and universities. In addition, jazz enthusiasts began as early as the 1930s to collect recordings, memorabilia, and memories (in oral histories) of musicians. The New Orleans Jazz Club was organized formally in 1948 and their collection became a part of the State Museum in 1977. Overlapping these efforts were those of other music enthusiasts who collected gospel music and other church and folk music, as well as materials concerned with this music. In 1958, some of these enthusiasts assisted in the establishment of the Hogan Jazz Archives at Tulane University. With a grant from the Ford Foundation, William Ransom Hogan, chair of the Tulane Department of History at the time, worked with others, notably William Russell, to collect oral history interviews with pioneers of jazz, their families, and fans. To accompany the interviews, the Hogan Archives also began collecting photographs, sound recordings, books and articles, vertical file materials, and artifacts.

    • Holmes Sheet Music: Gender, Archives, and Musical Culture
  • 3 Women's Collections

    Women's Collections

    About This Chapter:

    The late nineteenth-century beginnings of the suffrage movement in Europe and the United States involved the first stirrings for a need…

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    Chapter 3 Women's Collections

    The late nineteenth-century beginnings of the suffrage movement in Europe and the United States involved the first stirrings for a need to collect books and archival material about the lives of women. The Women’s Library in London, for example, grew from the London National Society for Women’s Suffrage, founded in 1867. The Library there opened its doors in the 1920s. Similar women’s libraries grew in the Netherlands, and at the various world fairs held in the United States in 1884 and 1893. In 1935, some of these efforts grew into the establishment of the International Archive for the Women’s Movement (known by its Dutch initials, IIAV) in Amsterdam.

    In the 1930s, Hungarian peace activist Rosika Schwimmer began work for what she called the World Center for Women’s Archives, especially highlighting the achievements of women in the peace movement. While her dream for an international collection ended in a much smaller project (the establishment of Schwimmer-Lloyd collection at the New York Public Library), her initial interest inspired Mary Beard and other historians and archivists to begin collecting the papers of women.

    Beard’s efforts proved successful. They led to broad focuses at institutions such as the Library of Congress and the National Archives, and to special instructions to Works Project Administrators field workers doing surveys of collections. Ultimately Beard amassed enough interest that women and men began donating the papers of their mothers and grandmothers and other women to the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College, and libraries at Barnard College, Purdue University, and Connecticut College. An especially important collection was established at Smith College as the Sophia Smith Collection (1946). Here Mary Beard and archivist Margaret Grierson worked together to create one of the world’s best collections on women in such diverse fields as antislavery, education, medicine, literature, and religion.

    An interest in women’s collections was renewed during the late 1960s and early 1970s, resulting in a massive survey of repositories all over the U.S., much like Mary Beard had wanted accomplished by the WPA. This was the Women’s History Sources Survey (funded in part by NEH and the University of Minnesota, 1975-1979). Some 11,000 repositories were surveyed and descriptions of collections were published in 1979 in a massive book edited by Andrea Hinding and called _Women’s History Sources_. From that substantial project, local groups still knew that the record of women’s collections were far from complete, and far from being known to researchers. Archivists and historians then began further listings of collections within particular repositories such as the Utah Historical Society and the North Carolina State Archives, and within particular geographic areas such as all Texas archives and all New Orleans archives. Similar compilations have continued into the twenty-first century, for example, with revisions online of the New Orleans guide and other virtual projects such as those of the Chicago Area Women’s History Council.

    The dream of Mary Beard to prove that women were active in every aspect of society has proven true in this search for women in archives. In the twenty-first century, efforts still continue with a more discerning look at the role of gender in shaping similar or varying types of record forms.

    • Woman in Newcomb Library: Gender, Archives, and Musical Culture
  • 4 Documentation Strategies and Sherrie…

    Documentation Strategies and Sherrie Tucker's Search for Women in Jazz.

    About This Chapter:

    One can place the study of women in jazz firmly in the second wave of feminism, especially in the continuing reverberations…

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    Chapter 4 Documentation Strategies and Sherrie Tucker's Search for Women in Jazz.

    One can place the study of women in jazz firmly in the second wave of feminism, especially in the continuing reverberations of this movement into the twenty-first century. In the early years of the 2000s, Sherrie Tucker conducted a study for the National Park Service, published (2004) as A Feminist Perspective on New Orleans Jazzwomen. This study primarily asks the first question that the second wave of feminist scholars asked: Where are the women?

    Tucker was conducting what archivists would call a documentation strategy, looking for those places where women were undocumented, though her study was not charged with actual results concerned with archives. She considers some thirty-one women in short biographies. Here are women who performed as blues singers such as Lizzie Miles, Edna Hicks, Mary Mack, and Esther Bigeou. Here too are the Storyville women musicians, pianist and singer Ann Cook and brothel owner and cornet-playing Antonia Gonzales. Tucker tells us too about Mamie Desdunes whose singing and piano playing influenced Jelly Roll Morton.

    Other biographies suggest the work patterns of women musicians. Unlike men, these women left work to tend to families only to return when they were older. Pianists Dolly Douroux (later Adams), Jeanette Salvant (later Kimball), Mercedes German (later Fields) all worked in many different bands throughout their lives, though taking off time to raise children, teach, and work in other fields as as needed.

    Tucker, whose earlier work concerned the all-women bands of the mid-twentieth century, writes an especially strong biography of Dixie Fasnacht, who played the clarinet and alto saxophone. The mural from her bar, featuring 66 luminaries of the entertainment world, is now part of the collection of the Louisiana State Museum, which the Gender, Archives and Musical Culture class visits year after year. Fasnacht later ran a bar with her sister in the French Quarter.

    Tucker, whose earlier work concerned the all-women bands of the entertainment world, is now part of the collection of the Louisiana State Museum, which the Gender, Archives, Musical Culture class visits year after year. In terms of archives it is interesting to look at her sources, as well as the way in which she locates the city of New Orleans as itself a center for not only women who grew up here (as most did), but also others who came to play, and others who played elsewhere with New Orleans musicians. The biography of Lovie Austin, for example, makes this point: that Austin is “central to the history of recorded New Orleans jazz, since so many musicians recorded in the Chicago studio where she worked. The sources on Austin came from the Institute for Jazz Studies at Rutgers, a William Russell interview in the Hogan Jazz Archives at Tulane, and notes of Russell at the Historic New Orleans Collection.

    Students of archives and scholars interested in the paper trail of records should look at the finding aid especially of Russell online at the HNOC site. Finding aids are guides to collection, the name being the formal phrase that archivists give to descriptions of collections.

    Sherrie Tucker PDF

    • International Sweethearts: Gender, Archives, and Musical Culture
  • 5 Provenance with a Gendered…

    Provenance with a Gendered Lens upon Jazz and Archives

    About This Chapter:

    As in the trail one can follow in the story of Lovie Austin, we learn that the archival remnants of lives…

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    Chapter 5 Provenance with a Gendered Lens upon Jazz and Archives

    As in the trail one can follow in the story of Lovie Austin, we learn that the archival remnants of lives structure what is knowable and how it is known. William Russell, for example, Sherrie Tucker’s source for so much material about women musicians, was curator of the Hogan Jazz Archives from 1958-1965, but he was also a musician himself, a collector, and a record storeowner. Knowing all these things and more about him, one can better understand his collection, can work with it as that of one individual, and consider his aims, his limitations, and his biases.

    Most importantly, when one looks at Tucker’s footnotes and those of other scholars, one begins on the trail leading to the provenance of materials. The first name in a footnote is the creator and the location of the materials can lead us to find the context of creation. Provenance is one of the most central of all archival principles. Provenance embodies the need to know the individual, family, or organization that created or received the items in a collection. The principle of provenance or respect des fonds dictates that records of different origins (provenance) be kept separate to preserve their integrity.

    Russell understood that to be remembered requires documentation, requires even the oddly sounding “written-ness.” Feminist scholars working with archival collections look also to other aspects of provenance, such as the bystanders who might be present in the creation of archival materials. Tucker built upon the partially obscured context of William Russell’s sources by asking other questions beyond who are the women in jazz. She asked, in part, and asks others to continuing asking, about the sounds, instruments, and musical activities considered appropriate for women at a particular time and place. She wants to know more about musical activities considered appropriate for men and women; about “norms” in musical cultures differing across race, ethnicity, class, religion, neighborhood, or other social factors.

    This gendered lens on women in jazz visualizes for others the idea that women singers and piano players had more traditional roles than did other women jazz musicians. Especially as piano players, they assumed a role long thought appropriate for women in the churches, parlors, and other private gatherings. Archives too distinguish, as we have seen, between public and private roles. Recordkeepers in the public realm are more apt to be men and in the private realm more apt to be women.

    • Saxophone Section Sweethearts: Gender, Archives, and Musical Culture
  • 6 Newcomb Music School

    Newcomb Music School

    About This Chapter:

    In 1908-1909, Brandt Van Blarcom Dixon, the first and only president of the women’s college of Tulane University (Sophie Newcomb College)…

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    Chapter 6 Newcomb Music School

    In 1908-1909, Brandt Van Blarcom Dixon, the first and only president of the women’s college of Tulane University (Sophie Newcomb College) visited women’s colleges and other coordinate colleges. Seeing their work, he came back to New Orleans with plans for two new programs for women students. A Household Arts School (sometimes called domestic science, or home economics) and a Music School were established in 1909.

    It is significant that these two innovations came together, linked as they were to social expectations for women. The Music School eventually became as famous as Newcomb’s art program. Its first faculty members were Guiseppi Ferrata, once a student of Franz Liszt and thus truly connected to European music, and Leon Ryder Maxwell, a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music and thus also connected to older traditions of music education.

    From the beginning, the women students took their music into the community. Besides accompanying their teachers in lectures to public schools, they also formed their own musical groups. One of the most popular of these student groups was the Guitar and Mandolin Club. Oral histories with graduates of the College from the 1920s remember this group as playing at a number of nightclubs, as well as private parties in the region.

    In the post World War I years, the faculty also came to include some women. Prominent among these was vocal teacher Clara del Marmol, who stayed at the College for over fifty years, but, likely because she was a woman, was never promoted to professor.

    There are many other aspects of the Music School’s program that speak of gender, as well. The Music program at Newcomb was the first to allow male students to “cross register” that is, to come over from the all-male Tulane undergraduate side to the women’s side of the campus. Notably, at least one assistant to the chair would not let brass or percussion instruments into the practice rooms, deeming them as producing the “wrong kind of music” for women. In a 1920s photo of the faculty, all six men are named but two among the five women are unnamed.

    One can also see trails of documentation to the archives that tell of the gendered history of the school. In the early 1920s, Professor Maxwell began the formation of a music library with his personal collection of sheet music and books. When the Newcomb, Howard, and Tilton Libraries were merged in the late 1930s, the new library was called Howard-Tilton Library, with Newcomb disappearing under the umbrella of the University’s chosen name. The music library remained in Dixon Hall, where the older Newcomb College Library had been, serving many male and female students. The sheet music collection is today a part of Special Collections, while Maxwell’s books became part of the Maxwell Music Library within Howard-Tilton, today the Music and Media Library.

    • Newcomb Music School Washington Ave: Gender, Archives, and Musical Culture
  • 7 White Women Musicians of…

    White Women Musicians of the City

    About This Chapter:

    Whereas most of the well-known women musicians of the city were, and are today, African Americans, the Newcomb Music School was,…

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    Chapter 7 White Women Musicians of the City

    Whereas most of the well-known women musicians of the city were, and are today, African Americans, the Newcomb Music School was, until 1963, a segregated school for young white girls and women. Thus, for a moment, it is interesting to turn to a few white women whose lives should be considered in explorations of the preservation and expansion of piano and organ music, of composition, and of other influences of New Orleans women on the music of the city and beyond.

    One such person was Genevieve Pitot (1901-1980), a composer for the American musical theater. Pitot was the descendant of a one-time mayor of New Orleans, James Pitot (1761-1831). Her family recognized early her talent, and like many New Orleans families, felt a training in France made the most sense for her. Here she maintained a lifelong home-away-from-home, performing especially as a pianist and creating piano rolls that could be marketed to families. However, it was in New York City that she made her biggest contributions. Here, she and her husband, Joseph P. Sullivan, worked in dance and musical theater in the 1930s with such notables as Martha Graham. Pitot’s arrangements and choreography are found in such Broadway musicals such as “Kiss Me, Kate,” “Call Me Madam,” “Can-Can,” “Silk Stockings,” “Milk and Honey,” “Shangri La” and “Li’l Abner.”

    Contemporary to Pitot were Boswell Sisters (Martha, 1905-1958; Connee, 1907-1976; and Vet 1911-1988), popular singers with a reputation far beyond their native Midwest or childhood home in New Orleans. Yet, New Orleans certainly influenced their style and they, in turn, influenced countless others to hear music in a more modern way. Trained as classical musicians, they once played with the New Orleans Philharmonic, and then later turned to singing, as well as the banjo, the guitar, and the alto saxophone. They are credited with taking African American jazz syncopations and blues intonationin the 1920s and 1930s.

    They were especially well known for their unconventional harmonies. Working with top stars such as Bing Crosby, the Dorsey Brothers and Benny Goodman., they made appearances in movies and theatres. Connee’s appearance on the Ed Sulivan variety show is often remembered. Oddly for New Orleanians, a museum now in the process of being reorganizedis dedicated to their work, and those of others in Jazz in East Springfield, New York.

    Like Pitot, another woman born to a similar French tradition in New Orleans, and one whose family also lived for a few years in Paris, was Elise Cambon (1918-2008). She would devote more than sixty years to playing the organ at St. Louis Cathedral. Unlike Pitot, the Cambon family sent their daughters to Newcomb, perhaps because by the time she was ready for more training, they had lost their family fortune in the Depression.

    Cambon studied art (not music at all) at Newcomb, graduating in 1939. She first considered work in social work, applying to Tulane’s Graduate School. Just after graduation, she took an organ course and began one year later to play at the Cathedral. She furthered her education at the University of Michigan with the concert pianist Palmer Christian. Later, as an instructor in the Loyola School of Music, she was awarded a two-year Fulbright scholarship to study organ and medieval music in Europe. She also taught at McGehee’s School and Ursuline Academy, two all girls’ school Uptown. She received the Order of Chevalier des Arts et des Letters from the French government for promoting French music in New Orleans.

    Finally like Pitot and the Boswell sisters, Eugénie Ricau Rocherolle (b. 1936) also became well known within and beyond New Orleans. Like Cambon, she attended Newcomb, but unlike Cambon, she studied piano and composition. As part of Newcomb’s Junior Year Abroad Program, she studied in Paris in 1956 with Nadia Boulanger. Rocherolle graduated in 1958.

    • Guitar and Mandoline Club Newcomb: Gender, Archives, and Musical Culture: Gender, Archives, and Musical Culture
  • 8 Traditional Creole Songs and…

    Traditional Creole Songs and the work Camille Nickerson, 1888-1982

    About This Chapter:

    In the same way that white Newcomb students were being taught European traditions, so too were African American and Creoles of…

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    Chapter 8 Traditional Creole Songs and the work Camille Nickerson, 1888-1982

    In the same way that white Newcomb students were being taught European traditions, so too were African American and Creoles of Color being taught. One of the most successful programs was that of William J. Nickerson, at Nickerson School for Music. His most well-known students included Jelly Roll Morton, Manuel Manetta, and Emma Barrett. It is his daughter, however, Camille Lucie Nickerson (1888-1982), who shows us more about the transmission of music in written and recorded forms of archival documents, and ultimately the preservation of music in archives.

    Camille Nickerson began early as an accomplished performer. At age nine, she became pianist for the Nickerson Ladies Orchestra. Work around the city in this nine-piece ensemble group gave her an interest not only in classical music but also in the songs she heard in French-speaking homes and the cries of street vendors. She graduated in 1916 from Oberlin Conservatory. Returning home, she would, in 1917, be among an elite group of the city’s musicians to found the B-Sharp Club. This was a female-dominated group devoted to the study and rendition of music in many forms, but especially traditional and original African American music. She left New Orleans to teach at Howard University where she would remain for almost forty years.

    In terms of her archival contribution, one turns to definitions and logistics of transmission, preservation, and access. Transmission is considered, from diplomatics (an elderly scholarly discipline for the analysis of documents), as the transfer of a record from one party to another. Transmission in terms of memory studies concerns the giving of a memory from one form to another, from one person to another. Nickerson gave such gifts of memory through recording songs.

    Camille Nickerson began this transmission work during her time at Oberlin where she returned in the 1930s to write her Master’s thesis on “Afro-Creole Music of Louisiana.” As she would later recall in an interview, she wanted to make Creole music a part of the American canon, while also showing how it brought different sensibilities:

    These people were under the domination of French and Spanish colonists. They had their particular influence. The themes were different from the spirituals. They never seemed to sing sad songs; most were love songs or lullabies, some satire. The satire was the result of French and African influence. The language, of course, was something that they had to find and learn from the French master. They eliminated whatever was difficult; they turned and twisted the pronouns and just made a language all their own, which is considered more euphonious than the French language. This is one instance when the master had to make the adjustment. If he was going to have any success he had to get his thoughts known to the slaves, so he developed the patois; he made the adjustment. (McGinty interview)

    In archival theory and practice, language always is a consideration. In addition, both her field methods and her recorded work show how technology governs what enters an archives and in what form. Again in the interview about her Afro-Creole music project, she recalled how she first recorded the songs by hand:

    I had to, at first, notate by hand; I didn’t have a machine. And this was really something because I’d get a prospect all ready to sing, and she’d start off and I’d start writing; and then I’d say, “Wait a minute,” and then she’d start again and change it. So you see what I went through. The next year Miss Childers bought a phonograph machine, and I thought everything was going to be so perfect. But sometimes I’d have a prospect all ready, and the machine wouldn’t work. There were lots of difficulties. (McGinty interview)

    Some of the songs she would later perform as “The Louisiana Lady” in Europe and across the U.S. Today, again we have the benefits of technology, this time extending some of the legacies of her archival efforts. For example, from the websites below you can hear some of the songs she first wrote down performed by other singers, such as Felicia Weathers and Adelaide Van Wey.

    Nickerson’s papers are primarily held by Howard University’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center. In local archival collections, however, one can still learn more about Nickerson. See for example, the Amistad Research Center for personal papers Camille Nickerson’s acquaintances (such as opera singer Camilla Williams and music teacher Lucile Hutton); photographs, or other items about Nickerson as an interpreter of Creole songs; and papers of several concert artists who included Nickerson’s arrangements on their programs.

    In addition, the Amistad houses the archival records of the B-Sharp Music Club. The group initially performed what they called “Negro Music,” with an emphasis on spirituals, African American classical music, and Creole songs. They raised money for many different causes including the scholarship fund of the National Association of Negro Musicians, the NAACP, and the Anti-Lynching Fund. This generosity shows some of the variations of gendered groups, and something of the politics of respectability. It would not be until the 1970s that the B-Sharp Club added jazz to its repertoire.

    • Camille Nickerson: Gender, Archives, and Musical Culture
  • 9 Alma Lillie Hubbard (1895-1970)

    Alma Lillie Hubbard (1895-1970)

    About This Chapter:

    Another musician whose life and works helps us consider gender and the archival record is Alma Lillie Hubbard. Like Nickerson, Hubbard…

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    Chapter 9 Alma Lillie Hubbard (1895-1970)

    Another musician whose life and works helps us consider gender and the archival record is Alma Lillie Hubbard. Like Nickerson, Hubbard was an educator, music producer, actor and classically trained performer. Unlike Nickerson, Hubbard came from a much less privileged background. In her life story, we see the networks of people who, and neighborhoods that, nurtured working class African Americans and fostered one woman’s climb to the middle class. Like Nickerson, she too was a member of the B-sharp Music club but unlike Nickerson, she did not begin with the advantages of class and especially easy access to education or money.

    Hubbard was born to an unwed sharecropper mother in Mississippi. Yet, this mother brought her as an infant to an aunt and uncle in New Orleans. One of the forces that encouraged their adopted daughter, Alma Lille, to love music was their church, the Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church. Called affectionately and tellingly Mother Wesley, the church had a constant stream of classes and events. The Church was located in the black section of the prostitution district, Storyville, a location that did not detract from Mother Wesley’s optimistic and earnest presence. Slaves had built it in the 1840s but after the Civil War, the African American parishioners sued for and won the right to have the church remain their own. Here all family members, but especially little Alma and her mother sang in choirs, led prayer meetings, and participated in outreach and benevolent associations.

    From these activities grew further education. Hubbard’s most important contribution became concertized spirituals. As an adult, in her New Orleans years (until 1932), she was organist and choir director of her church and, musical director of the Jubilee choirs and quartets at Straight College and New Orleans University. Later, on Broadway and in Chicago, she was adviser and performer on such musical performances and theater as _Green Pastures_, _Porgy and Bess_, and _Tambourines to Glory_.

    Hubbard’s trajectory also shows us how transmission can fail. Her work was almost lost to the historical record until historian Lynn Abbott in 1989 covered her New Orleans career in his extensive liner notes to a vinyl recording on New Orleans religious music from the 1920s, and until religious study scholar Rosalind Hinton wrote an extensive biography of her in 2001.

    Why would archival records disappear? Barring disasters, one of the most prevalent reasons is the lack of first, someone in one’s family who collects papers left behind, someone unwilling to destroy papers, and someone interested in passing these papers onto a library or archives.

    • Gospel Classics, Vol. 3 Gender, Archives, and Musical Culture
  • 10 Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972), Queen…

    Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972), Queen of Gospel Music

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    In 1993, the New Orleans City Council voted to rename the city’s theater for opera, dance, and musical performances to the…

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    Chapter 10 Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972), Queen of Gospel Music

    In 1993, the New Orleans City Council voted to rename the city’s theater for opera, dance, and musical performances to the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts in honor of the famed and beloved New Orleans gospel singer. This landmark venue in Armstrong Park itself is a sort of document of the past.

    The overall park in which it sits was once a part of Congo Square, where slaves were allowed to sing and dance and have a Sunday market, not far from the once-famed Storyville district, and much later, where the first Jazz and Heritage Festival was held. Today it is named for jazz musician Louis Armstrong. The Mahalia Jackson Theater is a testament to a woman whose powerful voice is long remembered and who herself performed at the first Jazz and Heritage Festival. By then, she was an internationally known singer, as well known as Louis Armstrong, and like him more than a musician. She was a leader, a conscience.

    Jackson was born and grew up in the Uptown neighborhood of Carrollton, in a section called Black Pearl, far from this location where the theater now sits. As a very young child she began singing in neighborhood churches. Religious songs would be her lifelong specialty but she also recalled being moved by the blues, especially by the voice of Bessie Smith. As Jackson would recall, Bessie Smith’s voice “had soul…Her music haunted you even when she stopped singing…I don’t sing the blues myself…But you’ve got to know what the blues meant to us then…The Negroes all over the South kept those blues playing to give us relief from our burdens and to give us courage…” At age 16, she moved to Chicago where she found work as a laundress, waitress, and eventually as a singer. One classically trained teacher there once asked her “to stop hollering” when she sang, but she refused.

    Her career was one of a steady climb to fame, with initial recordings coming in the 1930s. In the 1940s, she worked extensively with Thomas A. Dorsey, a gospel music pioneer. By the 1950s and 1960s, she was well known across the United States through radio and television appearances. Her part in the film Imitation of Life (1959) is still also recalled as one of the most important moments in the memories of generations of movie-goers. In 1963, she sang at the Great March on Washington, and in 1968, she sang at the funeral of Martin Luther King. She rarely returned to her hometown and was not afraid to say that it was because of the discrimination African Americans faced in the city of New Orleans.

    In terms of an exploration of her archival record, one can trace the places and people mentioned in Movin On Up, her autobiography (1966), and can search traces of interviews and other materials at the Chicago History Museum, the Library of Congress, Tulane University, and the Historic New Orleans Collection. One can read about the way she was remembered for the 100th anniversary of her birth in 2011, can view images and performances available online, through images in the Library of Congress (digital holdings as well as others in their collections, such as that of the NAACP), and, through newspapers, find how she was written about in her lifetime. Her funerals—one in Chicago and one in New Orleans—are worthy of study. In New Orleans thousands of mourners joined the mayor and governor in the Rivergate Convention Center. There was a funeral cortege of 24 limousines, which made their way past her childhood home where loudspeakers played her songs.

    Her voice still evokes something beyond power and emotion, some amazing touch to conscience, but her archival record is more elusive, thus also wonderfully challenging.

    • Mahalia Jackson: Gender, Archives, and Musical Culture
    • Musical Apostles: Louis Armstrong, Mahalia Jackson, Professor Longhair, and Fats Domino: Black Music & Performance in New Orleans
    Mahalia Jackson

    Mahalia Jackson (October 26, 1911 – January 27, 1972) is renowned as one of the most powerful singers in African-American gospel music. Extremely popular and influential, Jackson was a pioneer in performing gospel on the national stage, where it was heard far beyond its African-American community of origin. Jackson has profoundly affected generations of sacred and secular singers alike, Aretha Franklin being one notable example.

    Jackson grew up in New Orleans’ Carrollton neighborhood, and was… read more

  • 11 Emma Barrett (1897-1983)

    Emma Barrett (1897-1983)

    About This Chapter:

    Scholar Sherrie Tucker introduces jazz pianist Emma Barrett with her business card. This document is a form usually called by archivists, ephemera,…

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    Chapter 11 Emma Barrett (1897-1983)

    Scholar Sherrie Tucker introduces jazz pianist Emma Barrett with her business card. This document is a form usually called by archivists, ephemera, to reflect the fleeting nature of those pieces of paper that come daily into our lives, and just as easily usually disappear. The card is a part now of the Historic New Orleans Collection, and suggest how even in words, Emma Barrett wanted to convey her spunk, her enthusiasm for the piano. It reads:

    Former Pianist of
    the Old Original Tuxedo Band
    And Spanking the Ivories with
    Dixieland Jazz, at its best.
    Phone HU. 8-1636, New Orleans, La.

    When Barrett played, she wore a red dress, garters with small bells, and a red beanie. But even before this outfit and her long association with Preservation Hall, Barrett had a history in New Orleans: as a student of Professor Nickerson and as a member of bands playing for decades in neighborhood dance clubs, including, in the 1920s, Oscar “Papa” Celestin’s Original Tuxedo Band.

    Barrett’s life is one of contrasts. Born into a large family of seven boys and three girls, her father had been a state senator during Reconstruction. Her musical talent was recognized early. Yet, her paper traces are not as wide as one would want.

    Still, part of her lasting presence was not only that she played so consistently in the city, especially in Preservation Hall for over 20 years, but also that her piano playing was part of a two-disk record set record made in 1961, New Orleans: The Living Legend. This made her part of the image of the city’s music projected to the world. It is interesting to contrast her — as nationally known and as a jazz musician — to others in earlier chapter. She broke out of the mold of respectability by being unique — a role women achievers often take upon themselves. That she would play as an old woman from her wheel chair only made her more unusual and beloved by the crowds visiting Preservation Hall. In terms of archival theory, too, uniqueness is central.

    Remembering her life makes one also appreciate the importance of Preservation Hall. Preservation Hall founders Allan and Sandra Jaffe recognized that there was a need for a place where New Orleans musicians could play New Orleans Jazz. If not, they knew this music would disappear. They too enter the “archival tradition.” Emma Barrett is one of the only individual musicians featured in Preservation Hall’s website’s listing of recordings for sale in 2013.

    • Sweet Emma Barrett: Gender, Archives, and Musical Culture
    “Sweet Emma” Barrett

    One of the true originals in the story of New Orleans jazz, “Sweet” Emma Barrett was a distinctive figure throughout her 70-year career. A self-taught pianist and singer, Barrett’s eccentricities sometimes threatened to overshadow her considerable talent. She was a pioneer who helped remove barriers for female musicians in a male-dominated field and a beloved ambassador for New Orleans music who traveled the world with some of the most accomplished musicians of her day. With… read more

  • 12 Irma Thomas, Soul Queen…

    Irma Thomas, Soul Queen of New Orleans

    About This Chapter:

    As a nineteen-year-old, Irma Thomas recorded her first hit, “You Can Have My Husband, But Don’t Mess with My Man.” Shortly…

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    Chapter 12 Irma Thomas, Soul Queen of New Orleans

    As a nineteen-year-old, Irma Thomas recorded her first hit, “You Can Have My Husband, But Don’t Mess with My Man.” Shortly after this release, a steady stream of singles and albums would appear, continuing until the present. Yet because she was a mother of four children, because she worked at other jobs to support these children, her career is often considered to have been sporadic. Nevertheless she has achieved a remarkable body of work. In addition, her generosity to the city, her place as a New Orleanian has been reinforced by such recurring gigs as the Audubon Zoo’s Mother’s Day Event, her performances with local choirs, her family’s ownership of the Lion’s Den (shuttered since the 2005 levee failure), her references in interviews to the city even when she is living away, and, more recently, her fondness for being a grandmother and great grandmother. People today love that she calls herself a typical Maw-Maw.

    Thomas was born in Ponchatoula and has lived in California, and rural towns in Louisiana, as well as in New Orleans. She speaks of Mahalia Jackson as one of her inspirations. As Thomas noted in [a 2000 interview with John Sinclair]: “I came up in a good time, I think, for music. It was a growing time. I didn’t have a lot of female vocalists to style myself after, but I took from those I did learn from, which was Mahalia [Jackson], she was the gospel side of me, and Pearl Bailey was my showmanship side.”

    Like Jackson, Thomas began singing in a choir. Thus, we can also link her to the traditions of other women musicians explored in these chapters. More so than these other women’s archival record, however, her career has been closely linked to popular culture, to the presence of a huge music industry, and to the wider distribution of music via radio. The transmission of her sounds and the collections of recordings by her fans, their interviews with her have an immediacy not only then based on the proximity of her work to the present but also the immediacy provided by technology. For example, the interviews referred to here resemble the oral histories completed and archived in traditional archives by William Russell. Yet, since they are accessible to wide audiences on the web, they change the uniqueness of the material, its accessibility, and thus the definition of archives, themselves.

    Irma Thomas

    Irma Thomas (born 1941) stands tall among the major artists to emerge during the Golden Age of New Orleans rhythm & blues. Since debuting with the saucy “You Can Have My Husband, But Please Don’t Mess With My Man” in 1959, the vocalist known as “The Soul Queen of New Orleans” recorded a number of the city’s timeless cultural anthems, including “It’s Raining,” which Allen Toussaint wrote and produced for Thomas in 1962. Many New… read more

  • 13 In a Different Kind…

    In a Different Kind of Archives: Bounce

    About This Chapter:

    An indigenous sound to New Orleans, cultivated as a result of the city’s unique sociocultural history, bounce music is a rather…

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    Chapter 13 In a Different Kind of Archives: Bounce

    An indigenous sound to New Orleans, cultivated as a result of the city’s unique sociocultural history, bounce music is a rather contemporary form of rap music, not more than twenty years old. Bounce music utilizes a fast tempo, call and response forms, and highly sexualized dancing that accompanies it wherever it plays.

    Bounce music arrived in 1992. The audience is generally young and mainly African-American. In the time of its infancy, the only bounce song to hit the billboard chart was DJ Jimi’s album, It’s Jimi, which eventually spawned the single, “Where They At.” Scott Aiges of Billboard describes the bounce sound as “simple but distinctive. It relies on a one- or two-line refrain chanted with the rhythm of a boot-camp march, rather than the extended spoken rhyming typical of rap. Most bounce songs with more than a few lines of lyrics stay with the streetwise themes of gangsta rap. Bounce’s four-beat rhythm emphasizes the two and four, giving songs a jazz-like swing. Many artists sing in a ‘bounce bigiddy bounce’ imitation of Jamaican dancehall style.”

    Within bounce music there is another subgenre: sissy bounce. Sissy Bounce is defined as “small…the most established and prominent gay hip-hop scene in the country. The music varies little from traditional bounce music, except, occasionally, in subject matter.”

    Studying bounce music, one sees again how collectors are the pivotal persons in the creation of any archives, but especially so for music archives. Journalist Alison Fensterstock (herself a Newcomb alumna) has created a website called: “Where They At” with digital recordings, transcriptions of interviews, and even a page called “archives.” The website is described as the culmination of work of “photographer Aubrey Edwards and journalist Fensterstock over the course of 18 months.” Together they photographed and interviewed more than 40 rappers, DJs, producers, label and record storeowners from the New Orleans bounce and hip-hop music scene.

    • Block party/bounce:10th Ward Buck and Sissy Nobby: New Orleans Hip Hop
    Big Freedia

    Big Freedia, the Queen Diva, is a singer, rapper and dancer from New Orleans. Most often identified with the LGBTQ-identified “sissy bounce” genre of New Orleans music, Freedia rejects the “sissy bounce” label in favor of the more inclusive “bounce artist.” Over the last decade, “the Queen of Bounce” has helped to further popularize this New-Orleans-centered genre throughout the South and across the globe.

    Big Freedia was born Freddie Ross on January 28, 1978 and… read more

  • 14 Changing Definitions And Widening…

    Changing Definitions And Widening Borders

    About This Chapter:

    Feminist theorists of music have long argued that the discipline of musicology is inherently conservative. These scholars have pointed to the…

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    Chapter 14 Changing Definitions And Widening Borders

    Feminist theorists of music have long argued that the discipline of musicology is inherently conservative. These scholars have pointed to the location of women in the “reproductive sphere” as singers, rather than the more active and creative position of composers. These scholars have also noted how much of music transmits masculine themes.

    Certainly the work of a number of scholars of the Gulf South have made similar findings in their emphasis on women as singers and piano players. However, as the earlier chapters have shown, women musicians have crossed many borders, and completed varied and lasting work, which has been reproduced by others. In addition their work is beginning to enter the older traditional archives and the new digital archives at rates similar to those of men.

    Contemporary questions concern asking about the platforms of transmission—those born-digital and those in paper and other earlier forms. Just as the study of women enlivened the curriculum in ways that would never have seemed possible in the 1950s and 1960s, bringing to the forefront creative ways of exploring what seemed to be missing from the historical records, today we have the chance to ask about the materials of learning themselves. Are they biased? And if so, how do we tell of this bias? Is our own finding of bias, biased? Archivists maintain information about their holdings and their finding aids in order to keep visible and transparent the contexts of each collection’s creation. How can we do a better job about telling about the circumstances of the creations of documents and other manifestations of music on paper, in recordings, and in visual and digital materials?

    On the more philosophical level, the very definition of archives is centered around the care of unique materials, one-of-a-kind documents. How does this definition change when materials are reproduced online, and/or are born digital, born then to be reproduced in some fashion? The question becomes one then of also teaching about the value of originals, a teaching that all the arts have long promoted.

    • Changing Definitions And Widening Borders: Gender, Archives, and Musical Culture