Front cover image for National Negro Opera Company collection, 1879-1997 (bulk 1930-1962)

National Negro Opera Company collection, 1879-1997 (bulk 1930-1962)

The collection documents not only the activities of the company, but also the life and career of its founder Mary Cardwell Dawson. It includes business and personal correspondence to and from many prominent musical figures of the period, such as Marian Anderson, Muriel Rahn, Robert McFerrin, and Todd Duncan. It also includes items from political and community leaders, including Eleanor Roosevelt, P. L. Prattis, and Mary MacLeod Bethune. Of particular interest is correspondence with Clarence Cameron White, composer of Ouanga, an opera performed by the National Negro Opera Company in 1956. Most of the photographs feature individuals and groups involved in the activities of the National Negro Opera Company, the Cardwell Dawson Chorus, the NNOC's various membership guilds, and other affiliated groups. Included are publicity stills of performers, and production photographs of casts, rehearsals, and performances. The Programs and Promotional Materials series contains a substantial number of programs and related promotional materials, including posters, flyers, press releases, funding solicitation letters, letters announcing events, tickets, and invitations. The Administrative and Financial Papers provide a record of the National Negro Opera Company's business activities. Included among these materials are charters, by-laws, lists of officers and board members, planning information, minutes of meetings, and other documents relating to the company, to the National Negro Opera Foundation, and to other organizations and committees. The Realia series includes 275 metal printing plates, the majority of which contain reverse photographic images of individuals and groups. These images were reproduced in publications, newspaper articles, programs, brochures and other publicity materials. The collection also includes scrapbooks, clippings, address books and lists, notebooks, music, script fragments, synopses, and books. In addition, the collection contains materials related to company soprano La Julia Rhea, and to Walter M. Dawson, Mary Cardwell Dawson's husband, who worked for the company. Mr. Dawson, an electrician with the General Services Administration, supported the National Negro Opera Company financially and played an instrumental role in opposing discrimination in government and electricians' unions
Archival Material, English, 1879
Address books
11,250 items (68 boxes, 39 linear feet)