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Marshall Winslow Stearns and the Politics of Jazz Historiography

Marshall Winslow Stearns and the Politics of Jazz Historiography MARIO DUNKEL Marshall Winslow Stearns and the Politics of Jazz Historiography A heritage is not transmitted; it must be conquered. André Malraux On April 30, 1949, jazz historian and member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Marshall W. Stearns sent a letter to the NAACP’s executive director Walter Francis White. Dear Walter, Here is the master plan—operation jazz—with emphasis upon the scholarly study of the origins of African American music (the step child of the arts) and I should be deeply grateful for any ideas or suggestions you might care to make. Financing the Institute poses a problem which I am in the throes of attacking. Stearns attached to his cover letter his elaborate nine-page project pro- posal for the first Institute of Modern American Music, which stipulated a large-scale program for jazz education and research and sought to establish jazz as an invaluable American cultural achievement. The in- stitute was finally launched as the Institute of Jazz Studies in 1952 and still houses the largest jazz archives in the world. As his letter to White indicates, Stearns’s educative and musicological interests were insepa- rable from his political ones. Beginning in 1936, he consistently http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Music University of Illinois Press

Marshall Winslow Stearns and the Politics of Jazz Historiography

American Music , Volume 30 (4) – Aug 4, 2013

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Publisher
University of Illinois Press
ISSN
1945-2349

Abstract

MARIO DUNKEL Marshall Winslow Stearns and the Politics of Jazz Historiography A heritage is not transmitted; it must be conquered. André Malraux On April 30, 1949, jazz historian and member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Marshall W. Stearns sent a letter to the NAACP’s executive director Walter Francis White. Dear Walter, Here is the master plan—operation jazz—with emphasis upon the scholarly study of the origins of African American music (the step child of the arts) and I should be deeply grateful for any ideas or suggestions you might care to make. Financing the Institute poses a problem which I am in the throes of attacking. Stearns attached to his cover letter his elaborate nine-page project pro- posal for the first Institute of Modern American Music, which stipulated a large-scale program for jazz education and research and sought to establish jazz as an invaluable American cultural achievement. The in- stitute was finally launched as the Institute of Jazz Studies in 1952 and still houses the largest jazz archives in the world. As his letter to White indicates, Stearns’s educative and musicological interests were insepa- rable from his political ones. Beginning in 1936, he consistently

Journal

American MusicUniversity of Illinois Press

Published: Aug 4, 2013

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