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Marian Anderson Collection

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  • Marian Anderson, Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C., April 9, 1939 (Acme Newspictures, Inc.), Marian Anderson Collection of Photographs, item 7.4.1
    Marian Anderson, Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C., April 9, 1939 (Acme Newspictures, Inc.), Marian Anderson Collection of Photographs, item 7.4.1

Marian Anderson (1897-1993) was world-renowned as a contralto. She also challenged racial barriers in the United States. Her dramatic open-air concert at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939, after she was banned from singing in Constitution Hall, was delivered to 75,000 listeners. She was the first African American to sing at the Metropolitan Opera in 1955.

The Marian Anderson Collection includes Anderson's personal papers--including letters, music scores, programs, photographs, and sound recordings--and affiliated materials, along with additional donations to the University of Pennsylvania Libraries. All of these collections are housed in the Kislak Center.

In 2020, the Penn Libraries launched a new digital portal providing online access to important portions of the Marian Anderson Collection: Discovering Marian Anderson through the Collections at the University of Pennsylvania Library.

Collection overview and information for researchers


Researchers should be aware that materials by and relating to Marian Anderson are cataloged in a number of different collections. Following is a separation list. Note: links are provided either to archival finding aids or to search results in the Franklin catalog.

Ms. Coll. 198: Marian Anderson Collection of Photographs. 100 boxes.

Ms. Coll. 199: Marian Anderson Collection of Music Manuscripts. 83 boxes. Note: search result provides over 2000 items, sorted alphabetically by composer.

Ms. Coll. 200: Marian Anderson Papers, 1897-1993. 450 boxes. Note: For a full listing of correspondence in the Marian Anderson Papers, researchers must search in the main online catalog, Franklin.

Ms. Coll. 201: Interviews conducted by Howard Taubman, 1955-1956. 10 boxes.

Ms. Coll. 202: Interview Conducted by Studs Terkel, July 1966. 1 box.

Ms. Coll. 203: Lecture Given at Hartt College of Music, October 23, 1974. 1 box.

Ms. Coll. 204: Rehearsal Tape of Hall Johnson Spirituals, 1965. 1 box.

Ms. Coll. 205: Vocal Coaching and Vocalises, 1964. 2 boxes.

Ms. Coll. 206: Marian Anderson Collection of Home Studio Recordings, circa 1935-1970. 10 boxes.

Ms. Coll. 207 Marian Anderson Collection of Test Pressings, 1936-1966. 13 boxes.

Ms. Coll. 208: Marian Anderson Collection of Miscellaneous Sound Recordings, circa 1950-1975. 12 boxes.

Ms. Coll. 209: Marian Anderson Collection of Commercially Issued Recordings, 1923-1953. 4 boxes.

Ms. Coll. 210: Marian Anderson Collection of Sound Recordings. 6 boxes.

Ms. Coll. 640: James DePreist Papers. 130 boxes.

Ms. Coll. 708: Marian Anderson Supplementary Papers. 48 boxes.

Rare Book Collection M1495.A64: Marian Anderson Collection of Printed Music. 66 boxes. Note: search result provides over 2600 items, sorted alphabetically by composer.

Digitized collections

The portal Discovering Marian Anderson, launched in 2020, provides access to portions of the collection that have been of particular interest to researchers and students, including scrapbooks; notebooks and diaries; programs; photographs; recordings; and interviews.

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