Harvard to Catalog Manuscript Collection


Harvard University has received a grant from the Mellon Foundation to catalog original manuscripts in the Juilliard Manuscript Collection and at Yale University for inclusion in the International Inventory of Musical Sources (RISM) A/II database. The cataloging work will be headed by Sarah Adams, director of the U.S. RISM Office and keeper of the Isham Memorial Library at Harvard, who said that the addition of some 550 music manuscripts from Yale—the only major music manuscript collection in the U.S. not yet cataloged in RISM—and 138 important and rare manuscripts from the Juilliard collection, will add significantly to the scholarly value of the database.


“The Yale materials constitute one of the oldest and most distinguished collections of music manuscripts and early prints in the country,” Adams said, while Juilliard’s collection, which ranges from the late 17th to the 20th century, “only recently became accessible, making it brand new to scholars.” Juilliard acquired the collection in 2006 when its chairman, Bruce Kovner, donated the extraordinary collection to the School.

According to Adams, the cataloging work will begin this fall and take about two years to complete. Given the high quality of digital images available on the Juilliard Manuscript Collection Web site (www.juilliardmanuscriptcollection.org), she said she will obtain most information for the Juilliard portion of the project from the digital copies, but travel to New York to view original sources when necessary.

The RISM A/II database is one of the most important tools for musicological research and is used by scholars worldwide. According to a fact sheet on the RISM Web site, the A/II database is “the most comprehensive annotated index and guide to music manuscripts produced after 1600.” More than 585,559 records by some 20,500 composers are contained in the easily searchable database which can be accessed by more than 750 libraries and archives in 31 countries.

“RISM is an essential tool for locating primary source materials in music, and it is a great honor for us to contribute information to the RISM A/II database,” said Jane Gottlieb, vice president for library and information resources at Juilliard. “I am extremely grateful to my colleagues Sarah Adams, Dr. Virginia Danielson, the Richard F. French Librarian at Harvard, and to Dr. Christoph Wolff, chair of the RISM Commission Mixte, for including us in this Mellon grant project.”


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