Marian Anderson: Artist on the World Stage

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Marian Anderson: Artist on the World Stage

The Penn Libraries is pleased to announce that the Council of Library and Information Resources (CLIR) with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded the Penn Libaries a Hidden Collections Digitization Grant in 2017 to digitize portions of the Marian Anderson Archive during the period June 1, 2018 to May 31, 2019. We are grateful for CLIR's recognition of the value of this project. (Read more about the grant.)

About the project

Recognized as one of the 20th century's greatest musical performers, Marian Anderson (1897-1993), an African American, was born in Philadelphia, where she is revered and memorialized. The Marian Anderson Papers rank among the most important archival collections in the University of Pennsylvania Libraries. A very small percentage of this rich resource has been digitized. Although the archive is consulted regularly, patrons must travel to Philadelphia to view the physical contents of the vast majority of documents. For this project, the University of Pennsylvania will be digitizing five series, including her private sound recordings, audio interviews (and transcripts), recital programs, diaries, and scrapbooks. Once digitized, these materials will enable researchers to explore the geographical extent of her musical career, study her repertoire, gain a deeper understanding of the blind prejudice she endured, and marvel at her courage, reception, and fame as she emerged, despite her trials, as an artist on the world stage.

Note congratulating Anderson on the Roosevelts' championship of her cause


The newly digitized items will include 1,200 recital and performance programs, 146 notebooks and diaries, 34 scrapbooks, 34 interview transcriptions, and 277 hours of recordings. These files will be stored and preserved on Colenda, the Penn Libraries digital repository.

Several members of the Marian Anderson project team


Colenda is designed to focus on long term preservation of materials of enduring value to the University of Pennsylvania and global scholarly communities. It is an Open Source application built on the Samvera framework (more information).

screenshot showing thumbnail images from the JStor Forum site

Marian Anderson Collection of Photographs

More than 4,000 images from Penn Libraries' Marian Anderson Collection are available online. They document the Anderson and her milieu, including photographs taken at Marianna Farm, photographic scrapbooks, oversize photographs, and photographs of friends, colleagues, and admirers of the renowned singer and Philadelphia native.

Project team

  • Layla Ben-Ali
  • George Porter
  • Jordan Rothschild
  • Craig Taylor
  • Anqi Zhang
  • Zhiyu Zhou