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History of the Center for Popular Music

The Center began operations in late 1985 when Paul F. Wells was hired as its first director. The early history of the Center's conception, formation, and first twelve years of operation is chronicled in Wells' article, “The Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University: Documenting the Broad Range of American Vernacular Music,” Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association 54/4 (June 1998): 860-874.

No comprehensive history of the Center has been written since that time, but among noteworthy developments are the following.

  • Neil Bland Collection of country and gospel music acquired
  • Survey of West Tennessee Music undertaken in joint venture with Tennessee Arts Commission
  • Sister O.M. Terrell project
  • “Hymn Books to Hits Songs” Exhibit
  • Center for Popular Music recognized by The Tennessean as one of the “100 Best Ideas” to come out of Tennessee in the twentieth century
  • Processing nears completion on the Brad McCuen Collection
  • Harold Baldwin photography collection acquired
  • David Jelema, archivist, resigns from staff
  • Lucinda Cockrell, archivist, joins staff
  • Mayo Taylor, coordinator and librarian, moves to Walker Library
  • Popular Music Studies Group formed
  • NEH grant awarded to digitize the Kenny Goldstein Broadside Collection
  • Plan for managing the CPM’s iconographic collections
  • Korine-Dunlap deposit of video interviews and materials inventoried and arranged
  • Conservation of the Gordon Henderson Orchestra Scrapbook
  • Sarah Childress Polk programs
  • Brenda Beasley, coordinator and librarian, joins staff
  • Norm Cohen, A Finding List of American Secular Songsters Published between 1860 and 1899 published
  • John Griffis collection of sound recordings, periodical issues, photographs, and ephemera donated
  • John S. Mitchell Collection of Tennessee Music donated
  • Preservation of the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Association collection continues
  • Mike Seeger concert and presentation
  • “Perspectives on Popular Music” lecture series started
  • Digitization of Kenneth S. Goldstein Collection of American Song Broadsides completed
  • Scopes Trial collection acquired
  • John A. McClung gospel songbook collection acquired
  • “Perspectives on Popular Music” lecture series continued
  • Partnership with the Arts Center of Cannon County
  • Brenda Beasley, coordinator and librarian, leaves staff
  • Bruce Nemerov, audio specialist, retires from staff
  • Lucinda Cockrell appointed Coordinator of Research Collections
  • The death of Dr. Charles K. Wolfe
  • The Charles K. Wolfe Collection is formed and materials added to it
  • Processing of the Brad McCuen Papers completed
  • Martin Fisher, Curator of Recorded Media Collections, joins staff
  • Grover Baker, Librarian, joins staff
  • Shirley Wall, longtime Executive Aide, retires from staff
  • Kym Stricklin, Executive Aide, joins staff
  • “From Studios to Stages: Images of American Music Makers”
  • “Music of the Civil War” exhibitions at Stones River National Battlefield
  • Center is involved in “Volunteer Voices” project
  • Music of the Civil War: Exhibits at Stones River National Battlefield
  • Murfreesboro Hip-Hop Documentation Project
  • Field Recordings re: southern gospel convention singing
  • Work on Charles Wolfe Collection continues
  • “Monkey Biz-ness Down in Tennessee.” Presentation re: Volunteer Voices digitization project
  • Acquisition of the Charlie Walker Collection
  • Tennessee State Gospel Singing Convention papers
  • The Recording Academy (Grammy) Collection
  • Gene Jones Collection
  • Grover Baker is Interim Coordinator while Lucinda Cockrell is on a leave-of-absence
  • The Center becomes a part of the College of Mass Communication
  • Paul F. Wells retires as Director of Center for Popular Music
  • Loren Mulraine is appointed Interim Director
  • Charlie Walker, Charles Wolfe, and Gene Jones Collections further developed
  • Southern Girl’s Rock and Roll Camp materials come to Center
  • The Everett Corbin Collection acquired
  • The Peter S. LaPaglia Collection of Tennessee-themed sheet music donated
  • Exhibition on Abraham Lincoln and Music
  • 25th Anniversary Celebrations: reception; exhibition in Walker Library; exhibition on “Happy Birthday”
  • Dale Cockrell is appointed Interim Director
  • Compact shelving is installed in collections storage area
  • An Advisory Council of faculty and local users established
  • The Doug Seroff Collection of Tennessee African American materials acquired
  • Exhibition cases installed in Reading Room
  • Dale Cockrell is appointed Director
  • Lindsay Million hired as cataloger.
  • Pa's Fiddle on PBS; concert and documentary of songs from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books.
  • Lucinda and Dale Cockrell inducted into Mass Communication Wall of Fame.
  • Charles K. Wolfe Collection deeded to the CPM.
  • “MusicSprings: Southern Music Sources.”  With the Arts Center of Cannon County; NEA grant.
  • “A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs, 1910-1965.” Traveling exhibit.
  • My Homeland Tennessee: A Research Guide to Songs about Tennessee.” THRAB grant.
  • “Music from the Life of First Lady Sarah Childress Polk (1803-1891).”
  • “America’s Music Film Series.” NEH grant.
  • “American Vernacular Music Manuscripts, ca. 1730-1910.” NEH grant with the AAS.
  • Grammy Foundation grant to process the tapes of the Charles K. Wolfe Audio Collection.
  • Inaugural Fellow of the Center for Popular Music is Barry Gibb.
  • Drew Beisswenger hired as librarian.
  • Dale Cockrell retires as CPM Director.
  • Greg Reish hired as new CPM Director.
  • The Center acquires Spring Fed Records.