After a week in the archives of the Library of Congress and Howard University’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, we’ve arrived back on campus with more data than we were expecting — a considerably larger amount. Between the two institutions, there were five collections that housed all of our data. The Library of Congress’s Manuscript Division housed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) records. Within the NAACP records, concert programs could be found in either “miscellany” folders or folders related to the Crisis magazine. Additionally, we found programs in the “Administrative Files” under General Music. All of the other fruitful findings were housed in the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center. These were split between the Washington Conservatory of Music records, the Clarence Cameron White papers, the Revella Hughes papers, and the Paul Robeson papers.

While researching in January, we were frustrated to find relatively few Paul Robeson performances. We knew from biographical accounts that he performed Burleigh’s pieces more than most, but had a very hard time finding proof. It turns out that all of the proof we were looking for was in the Paul Robeson papers at Howard. There was so much proof, in fact, that we were only able to record three years worth of performances in the two days we had to research there. With that being said, Thea and I decided to focus on different aspects of our DC research to map. She has worked with the Robeson data while I have focused on the data from all of the other collections.

Leaving out the Robeson data, we collected 66 new instances of Burleigh’s music being performed. With the exception of a few Marian Anderson and H.T. Burleigh appearances, all of the performances were by musicians who’s names we had not encountered yet. This led me to make a new kind of map — one that focused more on how we collect data than the data itself. Below, you’ll find the map “Where Burleigh’s Music Was Performed: Performances Found in DC Archives.” Each layer/color is a different source, with the light grey circles representing performances found in digitally archived newspapers. Dividing the data this way allows the user to see how each collection contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of Burleigh’s musical impact. Each of the individual performers on this map are relatively insignificant on their own. These musicians were not household names like Marian Anderson or John McCormack, nor do their appearances account for large proportions of Burleigh performances like Roland Hayes. However, they each show that everyday musicians were performing Burleigh. The Washington Conservatory of Music layer visualizes an approach to understanding Burleigh that we had previously not tackled — a pedagogical one. Were professors teaching Burleigh, and were students performing him? Yes, it seemed like Burleigh’s music was programmed next to Mozart Arias. What kinds of programs did Burleigh appear on? All different kinds, including annual concerts, solo recitals, and more informal concerts. These are the kinds of nuances that were much harder to understand through digital newspaper research, and that paint a different picture of Burleigh’s significance.

This second map is another version of the same data, but clustered. All of the performances found in DC archives are yellow, while all of the performances found in digital newspaper archives remain grey. This map is simpler because I wanted it to answer a different question: what are the important trends found in physically archived concert programs that newspaper reporting dismisses? I think the map makes an argument that there are important trends to recognize. The first is that archival institutions and digital newspapers do not cover the same territory. While there is some overlap in bigger cities, there is a large amount of variance in smaller ones. A second trend is that while cities like New York City and DC showed instances of Burleigh’s music both digitally and physically, different kinds of performances were recorded. This map makes clear that most performances that make it into the paper are notable in some aspect. Sometimes it’s the performer, or other times the location. But I would argue that it’s the ordinary performances of Burleigh’s work that made him a household name. In other words, the student recitals, Town Hall concerts, YMCA sponsored performances, and church events that spread Burleigh’s music faster in local communities.
In addition to making the above arguments, I think this map highlights the necessity and relevance of doing archival research. To put it plainly, none of the yellow-coded locations would have been accounted for if we hadn’t made the trip to DC. Because we did research in DC, our data is more skewed towards DC now. It is important to acknowledge this data-gathering consequence, but also points out that as researchers, we should world travel if we are looking for data that spans the globe.