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James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection manuscript music

Call Number: JWJ MSS 355

Scope and Contents

Autograph manuscript and manuscript reproduction scores and parts for circa 50 works, most by African American composers, including music for voice and piano, chorus, band, or orchestra, 1902-1957, with most 1931-1945 or undated. Circa 20 composers are represented, including Margaret Bonds, H. T. Burleigh, William L. Dawson, George Gershwin, W. C. Handy, Hall Johnson, Ulysses Kay, Florence Price, William Grant Still, Roberta Russell Summers Stone, Howard Swanson, and Will H. Vodery. Vocal music includes texts by African American authors Countee Cullen, James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, Alain Locke, and Bruce Nugent. Some items are inscribed by composers to Carl Van Vechten or others, and some are accompanied by correspondence between composers and Van Vechten or other related materials, 1936-1960.


  • 1902 - 1957
  • Majority of material found within 1931 - 1945


Immediate Source of Acquisition

These materials are presumed to have been donated to the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection in the early years of its establishment, 1941-1950. More information may be available in the Carl Van Vechten Papers Relating to African American Arts and Letters (JWJ MSS 1050).


Arranged alphabetically by composer name, and alphabetically by work title within each name.


8.0 Linear Feet (5 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

Processing Information

Formerly cataloged as single items in the Beinecke Library’s manuscript card catalog, with call numbers beginning Vms, followed by a cutter number based on composer name. In 2021 October, catalog cards were converted to a finding aid, with standardized item-level descriptions and enhancement of composer names and work titles in conformance with the Library of Congress Name Authority File or other authoritative sources.

Guide to the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection manuscript music
In Progress
Karen Spicher
2021 October
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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Access Information

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