LOC: Dancing in the Streets

Music is everywhere as the Library of Congress’s Music Division has acquired the archives of the largest performing rights organization – the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publisher Foundation (ASCAP). ASCAP is the non-profit arm of the group representing some 275,000 creators.

In these archives find much of note for many lyricists, song writers, composers and entertainers of Jewish ancestry.

The ASCAP Collection has been established to preserve the history and to create a repository for video and audio materials, photos, scores, documents and artifacts relevant to the rich history of the institution of ASCAP and ASCAP members as contributors to American culture.

The gift of these materials reunites much of it with many of the special collections given to the Music Division over the years by individual ASCAP members, including Victor Herbert, Leonard Bernstein, Irving Caesar, George and Ira Gershwin, Vernon Duke and Aaron Copland.

“Our shared interest is preserving the product of creativity, talent and craft, as well as the history and biography of its creators,” said Susan H. Vita, chief of the Music Division. “The ASCAP archives also preserve a history of innovation—literally, the business of show and music, and the visionary and entrepreneurial spirit that characterizes so much of America’s history.”

Materials include music manuscripts, printed music, lyrics (published and unpublished), scrapbooks, correspondence and other personal, business, legal and financial documents, scrapbooks, and film, video and sound recordings.

The Music Division has already received the complete archives of such individuals as ASCAP founding member Irving Caesar – who wrote such songs as “Swanee,” “Tea For Two,” and “Just A Gigolo” – and Harold Adamson, lyricist of “Around the World in 80 Days,” “I Couldn’t Sleep a Wink Last Night,” “An Affair to Remember” and the “I Love Lucy” theme.

Would you like to access parts of the archive? Submit a request to the Music Division through Ask-A-Librarian at www.loc.gov/rr/askalib/ask-perform.html. Make requests for materials in advance of in-person visits to the Performing Arts Reading Room, as ASCAP materials are currently stored offsite.

The LOC’s music holdings include manuscripts, scores, sound recordings, books, libretti, music-related periodicals and microforms, copyright deposits and musical instruments, along with manuscripts of American masters and ASCAP members John Philip Sousa, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin and Morton Gould.

The Alan Lomax collection of field recordings of American roots music, Woody Guthrie’s original recordings and manuscripts, and one-of-a-kind recordings of bluesman Robert Johnson from the 1930s are also among the Library’s musical treasures. Many collections are available at www.loc.gov/performingarts/encyclopedia/.

Take a look around the Music Division for even more resources – particularly if you have musicians and composers sitting on branches of your tree.
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