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Columbia College Chicago
Helen Walker-Hill papers

Helen Walker-Hill papers

Walker-Hill, Helen

Papers, dated 1887 to 2001 (with most dated from 1987 to 1998), consisting of research materials on black women composers, including notes and biographical files, correspondence, recorded interviews, and a large number of music scores.

43 boxes, circa 22 linear feet

Gift of Helen Walker-Hill, 1995.

This collection was processed with funding provided through a Preservation and Access Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical note:

Helen Walker-Hill (born in 1936 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) is a scholar, editor and performer specializing in the music of black women composers. She has a BA degree from the University of Toledo in Ohio (1957), an MA in musicology from Smith College (1965), and a DMA in piano performance from the University of Colorado at Boulder (1981). She has written several books and articles and has edited a number of scores for publication. With her son, violinist Gregory Walker, she produced and performed on a compact disc of music by black women composers entitled Kaleidoscope: Music by African-American Women (Leonarda LE 339) issued in 1995.

Scope note:

Helen Walker-Hill's papers include a variety of materials concerning black women composers: correspondence and research files, over 800 music scores, photographs, and recorded interviews chiefly created during research for her book, From Spirituals to Symphonies: African-American Women Composers and Their Music (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002), and her published editions of music by black women composers.

Of particular note is Walker-Hill's correspondence with Undine Smith Moore, Henry Louis Gates Jr., and Tania Léon. Newspaper clippings include articles from late nineteenth-century issues of The Indianapolis Freeman and early twentieth-century papers such as The Chicago Defender, The Crisis, and The Interstate Tattler.

The oral history interviews, completed 1989–1991, 1995, and 1998, comprised 56 cassette tapes, which have been dubbed to CD for research access. Interview subjects include Djane Richardson (Margaret Bonds' daughter), noted Chicago composers Regina Harris Baiocchi and Lena McLin, Joyce Solomon Moorman, Dorothy Rudd Moore, and Theodore Charles Stone (discussing Florence Price and Margaret Bonds).