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Leviticus Lyon Papers

 Collection
Call Number: JWJ MSS 173

Scope and Contents

The Leviticus Lyon papers document the professional and personal activities of the tenor singer, music conductor and choral director. Letters, writings, illustrations and photographs are included in this collection. Correspondence details the life of Leviticus Lyon from childhood to adulthood with personal letters from parents, siblings, and friends including the originally titled "world's fastest human," African American Olympic track star Howard P. Drew. Other correspondence includes letters from blues legend W.C. Handy and prominent Harlem lawyer Hubert T. Delany. The Professional Papers series illustrates Lyon's efforts in establishing the Negro Symphony Orchestra, his participation in the Annual Harlem Music Week, and his work as choral director in the Westchester Negro Choral Union. Personal papers include poems, illustrations, and other writings by Lyon.

Dates

  • 1905-1948

Creator

Language of Materials

In English.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Leviticus Lyon Papers is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source unknown.

Arrangement

Organized into three series: I. Correspondence, 1906-1946. II. Professional Papers, 1918-1948. III. Personal Papers, 1905-1948.

Related Materials

Other photographs of Leviticus Lyon can be found in Photographs of Prominent African Americans (JWJ MSS 76).

Extent

2.29 Linear Feet

Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL

http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/beinecke.lyonl

Overview

The Leviticus Lyon papers document the professional and personal activities of the tenor singer, music conductor and choral director. Letters, writings, illustrations and photographs are included in this collection. Correspondence details the life of Leviticus Lyon from childhood to adulthood with personal letters from parents, siblings, and friends including the originally titled "world's fastest human," African American Olympic track star Howard P. Drew. Other correspondence includes letters from blues legend W.C. Handy and prominent Harlem lawyer Hubert T. Delany. The Professional Papers series illustrates Lyon's efforts in establishing the Negro Symphony Orchestra, his participation in the Annual Harlem Music Week, and his work as choral director in the Westchester Negro Choral Union. Personal papers include poems, illustrations, and other writings by Lyon.

Biographical / Historical

Leviticus Lyon was born on May 29, 1894 in San Francisco, California and spent most of his childhood in Oakland, California. He was born to Elizabeth Garland Lyon and Giraldo Gomez Lyon. Lyon's mother was born in the West Indies (Saint Kitts and Nevis) while his father was born in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa. His father was likely a steward, as his employment in the United States 1900 census is listed as "Stewart" and he frequently discussed life on ships in letters to his son. According to Giraldo Gomez Lyon's personal writings, he immigrated to the United States in 1880 from West Africa and married Elizabeth Garland in 1888. As a teenager, Leviticus Lyon held many jobs including elevator operator at the United States Customs Service in San Francisco, California. Lyon demonstrated his singing talent to officials in the customs department who in turn used their influence to transfer Lyon to work at the New York Customs office in 1919 to assist him in pursuing his musical education. He eventually received a fellowship to study at the Julliard School in 1925. In the course of his career, Lyon became a prominent tenor and choral director, giving performances at Carnegie Hall and St. Marks Methodist Church in Harlem, New York City. Lyon also took leadership positions in New York's music scene, assisting in the formation of the Negro Symphony Orchestra and chairing the Westchester Negro Choral Union. He lived chiefly in New York City until his death in 1958.

Processing Information

Former call number: JWJ MSS Lyon.
Title
Guide to the Leviticus Lyon PapersJWJ MSS 173
Author
by Afua Ferdnance
Date
February 2017
Language of description
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

Contact:
P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977