May 2014 Archives

So...Much...Choral...Music...

Hello Archive Junkies!

My goodness, what a week it's been! Now that all of the non-musical materials in the collection have been processed (things like Clokey's correspondence, lecture notes, writings, biographical materials, etc.), I've been hard at work arranging and preserving the robust amount of music the Clokey Papers have to offer. While Joseph W. Clokey composed art music in a staggering variety of genres (symphonies, operas, operettas, suites, sonatas, pageants, sacred dramas, etc.), one of his great loves was choral music.

Both sacred and secular choral music represent a substantial portion of his output (substantial enough, at least, to take a full week of processing to get through it all). Some pieces of sacred choral music that he composed are represented in the collection not only in the final published form, but in heavily-revised manuscripts as well as early sketches. To see that sort of material you'll have to come by Claremont Special Collections once the processed is finished, but for now I leave you with a lovely performance of a sacred choral work.

Performed by the San Joaquin Choral, this is "Mary Wore Three Links of Chain".

Til Next Time!

The Search Continues

So as it would turn out, digitizing media is really, really handy. For one thing, it allows you to search for terms such as "Shakespeare" across hundreds of archived items at once, with nearly instantaneous results. This is particularly handy, for example, if you want to get that broader picture I was talking about in my last post. Because the Claremont Colleges Digital Library (CCDL) has archived many letters, playbills, programs, photographs and even sheet music from the Philbrick Collection and beyond, the term "Shakespeare" came up quite frequently. It was through this simple search that I found out about David Garrick, Sarah Siddons, and William Poel.

For one thing, these names did not appear very often in the Philbrick Collection, specifically in the corner of the massive collection in which I was digging. There are many subseries - to use the archivist's term - within the broader picture. After looking in metadata (the data about the item, such as its name, medium, date, where it is shelved) about many Henry Irving and Ellen Terry items, I found other useful tags that led me to the Dr. Walter Lindley Scrapbooks, and the Autograph Letter series within the Philbrick. Dr. Walter Lindley, as it would turn out, was a resident of Los Angeles and physician at the turn of the 20th century who had a penchant for collection items about Shakespeare, as well as travel and California health. The entire collection is on view on CCDL if you are curious!

As it would turn out, Lindley has not only David Garrick's will and testament, but plenty of newspaper clippings, programs and illustrations about Garrick's role as a Shakespearean actor in the mid-18th century. It was particularly exciting to open up a box and find an enormous ribbon-bound collection of papers written in some 400 year old lawyer's hand, transcribing the will and testament of David Garrick, who I was about to learn was the big name in reviving Shakespeare. But it was even more thrilling to keep going, and to find folders upon folders of newspaper clippings that described a "Shakespeare Jubilee" and poetry mourning the loss of a bard (Garrick) as great and wonderful as the Bard himself!

My hypothesis, it seemed, continued to be correct: the collections here focus on people, networks of people and correspondences. The items here documenting their accomplishments throughout their life. But since part of each person's achievements in life included performing Shakespeare, then the history of Shakespearean performance was present, too! This meant that the exhibit would focus around these people, and their roles as performers that revived Shakespeare from century to century.

I don't always do archival research...

...but when I do, I look at the finding aids first. (Ah, topical humor.)

A finding aid, for the blissfully uninitiated, is the document that details what the scope and contents of an archival collection are and assists researchers in determining if the listed materials will be of any use to their work. It's a snapshot of the collection, so to speak, mixed with equal parts summary, backstory, and any "restrictions on use of or access to the materials" (thank you, Wikipedia). The finding aid is typically a paper or electronic document (on the Online Archive of California you have choice between PDF and HTML), but the information contained within it can be translated into a machine-readable format called Encoded Archival Description (EAD, for short). There'd be a lot of technical jargon about XML and DACS and such if we kept on about EAD, so let's just stick to the finding aid, eh?

You might be thinking "Hey Mikael, I sure would like to hear more about what exactly you might find in, well, a finding aid," to which I would respond, "Simmer down, we're getting to that." Even though the Joseph W. Clokey Papers aren't yet fully processed, working on the finding aid along with it gives me the opportunity to include vital information about the collection as I go, instead of trying to remember it all at the end. The kinds of headings included are things like the date range of the materials, the types of records you'll find in the collection, and source of acquisition (this collection was, on paper at least, a gift from Joseph Clokey's son, Art). The finding aid also contains an outline of how the collection is organized. Typically, a small collection need only list a handful of series, but if you're me and you're arranging the Clokey Papers, you end up with not just several series of folders, but subseries and subsubseries below them (yes, that's actually a word, apparently).

While I don't have anything to show you this week that is strictly out of the box (hyuck!), here's a sneak peak from my finding-aid-in-progress. This right here is the current, though perhaps not final, version of my scope and content note:

The Joseph Clokey papers contain newsclippings, personal notes, concert programs, correspondence, teaching materials, writings, a copy of his book In Every Corner Sing, and music in various stages of completion, from early sketches to publication. Clokey's musical compositions include instrumental chamber music, suites, symphonies, organ music, sacred choral and dramatic music, secular choral music, operas, operettas, and songs as well as arrangements of other works. The collection also includes sacred choral and organ music by other composers, bound together by Clokey for liturgical use, and world music he collected during his travels.

I assure you, the materials themselves are much more interesting than my writing about them...!

Happy May!

Mikael