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Marian Anderson


In his 1994 memoir, The Pleasure of Their Company, Howard Taubman (1907 – 1988),  the former music and drama critic of the New York Times during the 1950s and 1960s recalls that in early 1955 Sol Hurok, Marian Anderson’s manager, asked Taubman if he was interested in ghost writing Marian Anderson’s autobiography. (Twenty years earlier Taubman had reviewed enthusiastically, Anderson’s 1935 Town Hall performance in the New York Times.) Although he was enthralled with the Philadelphia performer,  Taubman was reluctant to take on the Anderson project. After a lunch meeting with Anderson at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City, Taubman and Anderson came to a mutual understanding and Taubman agreed to ghost write her biography.  

During the summer of 1955, Howard Taubman conducted a series of nineteen taped interviews with Marian Anderson at her Danbury Connecticut home. Once transcribed Taubman’s interviews would serve as the basis for Anderson’s ghost written memoir O Lord, What  A Morning.   Examined by only a few scholars, the unexpurgated Taubman / Anderson interviews (Ms. Coll. 201) are of great historical value. We have digitized the thirty-two surviving sound files there are 33 transcripts with number 13 missing in all formats.  Users will be able to listen to the streaming audio and read the transcript simultaneously.

Most importantly the interviews reveal Anderson’s feelings about race relations during the Jim Crow era which she suppressed throughout her career. As Taubman notes in his 1994 reminiscence of Anderson, “… [she] was a proud woman, well aware of how much her career spoke for the need for equal rights for black performers. Yet she did not like to be regarded as a civil rights symbol.” (p. 313). 

You can see a full listing of the interviews in the Marian Anderson Papers and the Supplementary Papers
by using Penn's Finding Aids and you can download a PDF version of the entire listing.
Finding Aid for Interviews

You can see listen to a recording of each interview and see its accompanying bibliographic data in the Library's new Colenda repository.
Audio Recordings of Interviews