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Manuscript Collections

The word "manuscript" is applied broadly here. Archival collections owned by the Center for Popular Music might include: unpublished written works, handwritten music notation, photographs, scrapbooks, news clippings, financial records, original sound and visual recordings, sound discs, audio cassettes, reel-to-reel recordings, CDs, VHS cassettes, DVDs, floppy disks, and other formats. Manuscript collections may focus on a special grouping of materials (American Vernacular Music Manuscripts, ca. 1730-1910), an individual (Ray Avery Collection), an event (Crossroads Conference Materials), a specialized topic (Southern Gospel Convention Singing Collection), or in other ways. Altogether the Center holds more than 300 manuscript collections totaling approximately 300 linear feet of primary source research material.

Access is provided to all manuscript collections through finding aids, which provide an overview of the collection as well as box and folder listings of the contents. Since some collections consist of hundreds of items, finding aids can help researchers narrow the focus of their research. Manuscript collections may be browsed by clicking on Finding Aids at the Center's homepage or searched by keyword at Search Manuscript Collections.

To limit your search to the Center's manuscript collections, use the Advanced Search and select the check box beside "Manuscript Collections" before performing your search.

Some Notable Manuscript Collections

The Brad McCuen Collection
Recording industry executive, record label owner, and consultant.

The Bill Harrison Collection
Materials documenting the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Association.

Billy Carter's Minstrel Scrapbook
Materials, primarily assembled by Billy Carter himself, documenting his career as a banjo minstrel performer in the 1800s.

The Charles W. McMillan ASCAP/BMI Conflict Scrapbook
Materials documenting "the music war" between ASCAP and BMI, November 1940-July 1941, over licensing fees for the use of music on radio networks.

Doug Seroff African American Gospel Quartet Collection
Materials that chronicle the history of African American gospel quartet singing in Tennessee.

The Charlie Walker Collection
Papers, letters, photographs, and ephemera covering the life of the Grand Ole Opry member.

Coming Soon: The American Vernacular Music Manuscripts website. The Center for Popular Music and the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Mass., are collaborating on a project to digitize, catalog, and provide online access to American Vernacular Music Manuscripts (ca. 1730-1910), made possible through a $127,956 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. For more information see our news page.