Here are our finalized maps that document various aspects of the life and legacy of H.T. Burleigh. To read more about our methodology, sources, and possible next steps in our research, look at the main project page here.
Where Burleigh Performed
H. T. Burleigh is remembered as the composer that brought the concert spiritual to the forefront of the American Classical Music Canon. We found this to be a somewhat incomplete view of Burleigh, as during his time he was a very prominent performer in his own right. Burleigh gave a number of performances in a large variety of venues, many to critical acclaim. This map shows the scale of Burleigh’s performance career by mapping each place he appeared in concert. The biggest task in researching this was finding the lesser known performances that Burleigh gave. His concerts at Carnegie Hall or St George’s Episcopal Cathedral are well documented, but performances at a local YMCA is less so. We combed through a large variety of historical newspapers, primarily black newspapers, to find as much data on his performances as we could. Many performances were well detailed, with exact dates and locations as well as program information. These details can be found in the Notes section of each data point. This map is layered into three geographic areas: St George’s Episcopal, New York City, and Everywhere else. These layers can be toggled on and off to view specific areas of Burleigh performance. There is also a time slider that can be used to see where Burleigh performed over time.
Where Burleigh Performed by Venue
The map above aggregates Burleigh’s performances in terms of broad geographic categories. In the following map, in contrast, we see the same data split into categories based on sponsorship and venue. This choice was motivated by a desire to understand more about the sociopolitical environment of a performance rather than strictly a physical location. For example, if a benefit concert was held for Howard University, but the concert took place in a church, which of those two pieces of information is more important? For the purposes of understanding Burleigh, the symbol map privileges the former. While the sorting method was different, the information provided in the pop-up remains the same as the previous map. The symbols are divided into 5 categories: Society/Club Sponsor, School/University Sponsor, Religious Sponsor, Private Home/Sponsor, and Performance Hall. These categories covered almost all of our data except for an “Alternate Location” category which includes parks, parades, and locations that we didn’t have precise venues for.
Using symbols led us to new questions. How often did Burleigh perform in churches? How frequently did he perform for societies or clubs? The simple answer is that Burleigh performed the most in churches according to our data — some 120 times. Part of that number is influenced by his work at St. George’s in New York of which we have 60+ performances recorded. However, that number does not capture even close to the entirety of his career. On the first “Burleigh’s Performances” map, we accounted for this by creating a separate cluster for St. George’s appearances. But on the map below, because each location is not distorted by the number of performances recorded, each location appears to carry equal weight. Obviously there are pros and cons to both, but we believe putting these maps side by side offers a more truthful user experience.
Where Burleigh’s Music was Performed
This map highlights where Burleigh performed his music in comparison to other performers. We see from the map that Burleigh mainly performed in the Northeast, and rarely performed in the South. However, this is only what the data we collected tells us. We know that Burleigh traveled and performed overseas, but we would need more documentation on his programs to confidently assert his performance presence in these countries. A bias of this map is the skew of performances in the United States. Finding performances of Burleigh’s work abroad was a difficult task, and while we attempted to show a global representation of his performances, the data is not completely comprehensive. However, the map still provides a visualization and understanding of the strong domestic and global presence of his works.
Burleigh’s Most Significant Performers
In addition to mapping performances of Burleigh’s work, we felt it important to expand on three of Burleigh’s most significant performers, Marian Anderson, Roland Hayes, and Paul Robeson. Each of the three artists were closely associated with Burleigh and performed his works at a majority of their recitals. In addition, each of the three were mentored by Burleigh at some point early on in their performing careers and continued to laud his work throughout their lives. The map shows the spread of Burleigh’s work and influence, both national and international, through the lens of these three performers’ lives. We have included not only documented performances of Burleigh’s works, but also times when Burleigh was working directly with beside these performers, and any other instances where the two can be associated with each other. After coming across difficulties in finding confirmed Burleigh performances abroad, but not wanting to leave out any possible international recitals, we also created a layer on the map for performances where Burleigh’s spirituals were likely programmed, but we do not have confirmation.
Since there were over forty total performances of Burleigh’s pieces at Carnegie Hall between Anderson, Hayes and Robeson, we felt it wise to create a timeline of the performances (see timeline here). This not only reduced clutter on our first map, but it allowed us to expand on the performances by including the program for each recital. Marian Anderson only performed Burleigh’s spirituals at Carnegie Hall, and always at the conclusion of her recital. Paul Robeson also sang spirituals, but he sang them throughout the program and occasionally performed entire recitals of concert spirituals. Roland Hayes was the only performer of the three to sing Burleigh’s art songs at Carnegie Hall, in addition to his spirituals.
How did racial demographics relate to where Burleigh’s music was performed?
This map represents the proportion of black residents per county as documented in the 1920 Census. The counties with the darkest blue show the highest proportion of black residents. On top of this Census Map is a map that documents performances of Burleigh’s music which is sorted by the race of the performer. White dots with a smaller black outline represent white performers, and white dots with a wider black outline represent black performers. The ability to select by county gives us a closer look at cities instead of State data on race. This map shows us that black and white performers weren’t performing in the same venues unless it was in a large Northern city like New York City or Chicago. Since gathering information on audiences from this era is so difficult, this kind of map is useful in that it suggests that different populations were listening to Burleigh.
Burleigh Before New York (1866-1892)
This map details performances and major life events of H.T. Burleigh from his birth in 1866 up to his move to New York in 1892. As you can see, the main focus of this map is Erie, Pennsylvania where Burleigh was raised and started his musical career. Outliers include his tours with the New Orleans University Jubilee singers and his audition and acceptance into the National Conservatory in New York. This map provides insight into Burleigh’s life before his rise to fame and success in New York. It can be easy to minimize Burleigh’s life to only his performances in Carnegie Hall, his interactions with Dvorak at the National Conservatory, or his long performing career at Temple Emanu-El. This map shows us the other half of Burleigh’s life: where he took piano lessons, his performances at smaller churches in Erie, and where he worked as a stenographer and bookkeeper, which later helped him find employment in New York City, both at the Conservatory and in music publishing. By examining Burleigh’s early life, we can better understand how he was able to achieve his successes throughout the rest of his career.
Burleigh in New York (1892-1948)
Burleigh’s later education and performing career all took place in New York City. It was here that he studied at the National Conservatory of Music of America, where he worked, gave countless concerts in famous churches and performing halls, and interacted with other great black musicians, artists, writers, and political activists. As you can see, this map is data-rich and illustrates a broader scope of Burleigh’s life outside of performing. It includes major life events and locations that involve Burleigh, performances by Burleigh himself, and other significant concerts where his works were performed. To make the best use of this map, we recommend that you utilize the slider to easily view and compare different types of data on the map. The time slider can also be utilized to see how Burleigh’s career in New York took shape. The 137 data points highlighting performances of Burleigh’s works, the 52 locating performances by Burleigh himself, and the 29 mapping important places are just a hint of H.T. Burleigh’s career and musical importance during this time of cultural revival for the black community in America.
Over the course of this month, we have come across archival collections featuring information on Burleigh. Many of the archives in this map were listed in Jean Snyder’s biography, and we felt that putting them in a map allows for more possible leads for those looking for information on Harry T. Burleigh. Many of these archives were used by our class for this project, most notably Hathi Trust, Schlesinger Library, and the UMass Amherst WEB DuBois Collection.
Burleigh’s Life and Legacy at a Glance
This map is a culmination of our research on H. T. Burleigh, as it combines many of the highlights of the other maps and is the central project we were tasked with for the month. Included are major life events, important performances of his compositions, awards and accolades, and more. It is designed to show just how far-reaching Burleigh’s influence was and continues to be by providing a visual overview of Burleigh’s life and lasting legacy.
Burleigh Highlights Map
This story map condenses all of the collected information on Burleigh and highlights important aspects of his life and legacy, ranging from his birth in 1866 to the founding of the current Harry T. Burleigh Society in 2017. It gives users a compressed overview on selected life events to follow his journey.
Dvorak in the United States
Burleigh Media Map