Performing arts (50 collections) SCUA

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5

Abramson, Doris E.

Doris E. Abramson Papers, ca.1930-2007.

(25 linear feet).
Call no.: FS 127
Doris Abramson
Doris Abramson

After earning her masters degree from Smith College in 1951, Doris Abramson (class of 1949) returned to UMass in 1953 to become instructor in the English Department, remaining at her alma mater through a long and productive career. An historian of theatre and poet, she was a founding member of the Speech Department, Theatre Department, and the Massachusetts Review. In 1959, a Danforth grant helped Abramson pursue doctoral work at Columbia. Published in 1969, her dissertation, Negro Playwrights in the American Theatre, 1925-1969, was a pioneering work in the field. After her retirement, she and her partner of more than 40 years, Dorothy Johnson, ran the Common Reader Bookshop in New Salem.

An extensive collection covering her entire career, Abramson’s papers are a valuable record of the performing arts at UMass, her research on African American playwrights, her teaching and directing, and many other topics relating to her diverse interests in literature and the arts.


  • African-American theater
  • Poets--Massachusetts
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Theater


  • Abramson, Doris E.

Arcadia Players

Arcadia Players Records, 1989-2005.

18 boxes (27 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 451

Since 1989 the Arcadia Players have been performing Baroque music with the aim of providing an authentic experience both for the musicians and the audience by employing instruments and performance practices that draw from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In residence at the Massachusetts Center for Renaissance Studies at UMass Amherst, the ensemble performs an annual series of concerts in several communities throughout western Massachusetts.

The collection consists of brochures, programs, photographs, videorecordings of performances, and financial and administrative records. Together the items provide a behind-the-scenes look at the operations of a small but successful professional ensemble of musicians.


  • Music--17th century
  • Music--18th century
  • Musicians--Massachusetts


  • Arcadia Players

Baker, James

James Baker Free Spirit Press Collection, 1969-2005 (Bulk: 1969-1974).

3 boxes (1.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 834
Spirit in Flesh tour bus
Spirit in Flesh tour bus

James Baker was a member of the Brotherhood of the Spirit commune (later the Renaissance Community) in the early 1970s, and a key contributor to the Free Spirit Press, the commune’s publishing operation. Part promotion, information, and entertainment, the Free Spirit Press magazine ran for four issues in the winter and spring 1972-1973.

The Baker collection consists of the surviving materials from the production of Free Spirit Press concentrated heavily in the period between winter 1972 and summer 1974. Accumulated mostly while preparing a brochure for the commune, the manuscript material contains copies of the commune’s by-laws and membership rolls, comments from community members on how they wished to be represented, and a story board for the brochure and series of quotes from community members to be included. The second half of the collection contains hundreds of images, mostly 35mm negatives, taken of or by the commune and its residents. The images depict the production and distribution of Free Spirit Press and the commune band (Spirit in Flesh, later called Rapunzel), but they also include several rolls of film taken by commune members of major rock and roll acts of the era, including the Grateful Dead, Taj Mahal, Jethro Tull, Santana, Chuck Berry, Hot Tuna, and Fleetwood Mac.


  • Berry, Chuck
  • Brotherhood of the Spirit (Commune)
  • Communal living--Massachusetts
  • Grateful Dead (Musical group)
  • Grateful Dead (Musical group)--Photographs
  • Metelica, Michael
  • Renaissance Community (Commune)
  • Rock music--1971-1980--Photographs
  • Taj Mahal (Musician)
  • Taj Mahal (Musician)--Photographs


  • Geisler, Bruce

Types of material

  • Photographs

Bascom, Eric

Eric Bascom Collection of Jazz Recordings, ca. 1940-1950.

ca. 500 phonograph records (10 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 882
David Stone Martin cover for Slim Gaillard and Bam Brown's
David Stone Martin cover for Slim Gaillard and Bam Brown's "Opera in Vout"

When he was fifteen or sixteen, Eric Bascom’s life changed forever when he saw renowned jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery perform. Though Bascom had been playing guitar himself since he was young, seeing Montgomery opened his eyes to a completely new way of playing guitar and a completely new approach to music. Since that time, Bascom has been an avid listener, collector, and practitioner of jazz. He is currently performing as the Eric Bascom Trio with Ed Brainerd and Genevieve Rose.

The Eric Bascom Collection of Jazz Recordings consists of hundreds of jazz 78 rpm records from the 1940s and 1950s, including a number of 78 books with beautifully illustrated covers. In addition to the records are player piano rolls, several of which were punched by Fats Waller, and a portable Walters Conley Phonola 78 record player.


  • Bop (Music)
  • Jazz musicians


  • Basie, Count, 1904-1984
  • Christian, Charlie, 1916-1942
  • Fitzgerald, Ella
  • Parker, Charlie, 1920-1955

Types of material

  • 78 rpm records
  • Piano rolls

Bergman, Borah

Borah Bergman Papers, ca. 1970-2012.

30 boxes (20 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 806

Born in 1926 in Brooklyn, New York, Borah Bergman emerged late in life as a renown free jazz pianist and technical innovator. While teaching math and English in the New York public school system, Bergman developed an ambidextrous technique, or as he described it, “ambi-ideation.” This technique allowed Bergman to express ideas with equal intensity using both his right and left hands and provided the framework for an evolving and truly unique musical philosophy and body of work. Since his first recording, released in 1975 at the age of 49, Bergman appeared on 28 albums, both solo and with some of the most important figures in avant-garde jazz, and was active until his death in 2012.

The Borah Bergman Papers include hundreds of hours of Bergman’s personal recordings on reel-to-reel tapes. According to Bergman, these recordings comprise his greatest achievement and demonstrate the development of his technique and musical ideas. In addition to the personal recordings are a wide variety of Bergman’s performances in studio and with other musicians. Bergman’s work is also documented in notebooks, scores, fiction manuscripts, and an unpublished textbook on his ambi-ideation technique.


  • Free Jazz--United States
  • Jazz musicians--United States

Types of material

  • Scores
  • Sound recordings

Bestor, Charles

Charles Bestor Papers, 1971-2002.

2 boxes (0.75 linear feet).
Call no.: FS 126

Composer and presently the Professor of Composition and Director of the Electronic and Computer Music Studios of the University of Massachusetts Amherst who has taught at Juilliard School of Music and numerous other universities, won international awards for his music, and collaborated with contemporary installation artists. Includes scores and sound recordings for two of his compositions, Suite for Alto Saxophone and Percussion and In the Shell of the Ear, as well as correspondence, concert programs, and reviews all relating to the publication and performance of the works.


  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Music and Dance


  • Bestor, Charles

Bezanson, Philip, 1916-1975

Philip Bezanson Papers, 1946-1980.

9 boxes
Call no.: FS 040

An influential educator and composer, Philip Bezanson helped guide the Department of Music at UMass Amherst through its period of rapid expansion in the late 1960s and early 1970s. After graduate study (PhD 1954) and appointment to the faculty at the University of Iowa, Bezanson was brought to UMass in 1964 to become Head of the Music Department and helped to expand and reorient the program, recruiting an increasingly accomplished faculty, including his former student Frederick Tillis.

The Bezanson papers include materials relating to the development, performance, and publication of much of Bezanson’s musical work, including scores and parts for 46 of his 47 instrumental and vocal compositions. The collection also includes a sampling of correspondence, programs and posters for performances, papers relating to the development of the opera Golden Child and his collaboration with Paul, the score of the opera Stranger in Eden (libretto by William A. Reardon), and one sound recording.


  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Music and Dance


  • Bezanson, Philip, 1916-1975

Black, Joseph Laurence, 1962-

Joseph Laurence Black History of the Book Collection, 1789-1964.

128 items (3 linear feet).
Call no.: RB 023
The Woman Trapper (1908)
The Woman Trapper (1908)

A scholar of early modern British literature, Joe Black received his BA and PhD from the University of Toronto and taught for several years at the University of Tennessee Knoxville before joining the English faculty at UMass Amherst in 1994. Rooted in the history of the book, his research on seventeenth-century literature has examined the intersection between writing and the material and social context of production as well as the dialogue between print and manuscript culture.

The Black collection is an eclectic assemblage of American imprints designed to assist study and instruction in the history of the book. The collection includes two long runs of pulp novels, Beadle’s Frontier Series and the American Revolution-inspired Liberty Boys of ’76, examples of almanacs, prompt books, and works form the early national period in publishers’ bindings.


  • Books--History--United States
  • Dime novels, American

Types of material

  • Almanacs
  • Scrapbooks

Blake, Ella Dot Martin

Ella Dot Martin Blake Sheet Music Collection, 1902-1941.

1 box (1.5 linear feet).
Call no.: RBR

Assembled by Ella Dot Martin Blake, this collection consists of eighty pieces of sheet music, more than half with illustrated covers. Dating from the early 1900s, the collection covers both World Wars as well as the rise of Broadway and Hollywood’s golden age. Selections include military sheet music, “Good-Bye, Little Girl, Good-Bye” (1904) and music from Hollywood films, such as “Daddy Long Legs” dedicated to Mary Pickford (1919), and “By a Waterfall” from Footlight Parade (1933).

Types of material

  • Sheet music

Boston Jazz Society

Boston Jazz Society Records, ca. 1973-2014.

6 boxes (10 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 880

Founded in 1973, the Boston Jazz Society grew from a small group of enthusiasts listening to music in living rooms to a thriving organization that “kept Jazz alive” in New England. As Jazz’s popularity began to fade in the late 1960s, local Jazz societies formed to provide support to artists and give them the means and venues to continue to perform on the road. The Boston Jazz Society was originally inspired by one of the earliest, the Left Bank Jazz Society of Baltimore. Like the Left Bank, BJS produced concerts in clubs, theaters, and hotels but expanded their efforts to include exhibits, television and radio shows, and a Jazz education program for grade school students. The longest running BJS activities, however, were the annual Jazz Barbecues and starting in 1975, the BJS Scholarships. The scholarship program raised funds for young Jazz musicians to attend the New England Conservatory of Music’s Jazz Department and the Berklee School Of Music and began the musical careers of many important musicians, composers, and teachers. BJS was also deeply connected to the local music scene, celebrating Roxbury, Mass. natives Alan Dawson and Roy Haynes, whose brother Vincent was a long-time board member, among many others. After 42 years of promoting Jazz music in Boston, the Boston Jazz Society, Inc. dissolved in 2015.

The Boston Jazz Society Records extensively document BJS’s meetings, events, business dealings, and scholarship administration through meeting minutes, posters, correspondence, photographs, recordings, videos, and BJS’s own propaganda and publications. The majority of the BJS records came from the collection of founding member and longtime president Aureldon Edward Henderson and also represents his involvement in promoting Jazz in the Boston area.


  • Jazz musicians--Massachusetts--Boston
  • Jazz--Massachusetts--Boston


  • Berklee School of Music
  • Haynes, Roy
  • Henderson, Aureldon Edward
  • New England Conservatory of Music
  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
Special Collections and University Archives logo