Detail of the Negro String Quartet from The Music of Black Americans, 1st edition

This digital exhibit—and the overarching Eileen Southern Initiative (ESI)—was developed at Harvard University in 2019-21, beginning just before the disruptions of COVID-19. The project reflects a community-based effort to tell Eileen Southern’s story.

Initially, the ESI was conceived as a library-classroom collaboration, which remained the case, even as the scope expanded substantially. Students in an American Studies seminar conducted initial interviews with Southern’s colleagues, as well as her academic progeny, and they undertook preliminary curation of the exhibit. Since then, a dedicated cluster of Harvard students, faculty, and staff has been steadily involved. Visit our “About” page for more about the ESI’s genesis and its funders.


Gratitude to all involved in the Eileen Southern Initiative comes from its co-directors

Christina Linklater Keeper of the Isham Memorial Library, Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library

Carol J. Oja William Powell Mason Professor of Music and American Studies, and Director of the Humanities Program at the Radcliffe Institute


We begin with warmest appreciation to Edward Southern, son of Eileen and Joseph Southern, for a series of phone conversations in which we learned a great deal about his mother, her dedication as a scholar and teacher, and her relationship to Harvard.


Thanks to our core leadership team

Katie Callam Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard GSAS Fellowships & Writing Center, Music Department PhD ‘20, who was the central force in creating the digital exhibit. Her title was Project Manager, but her position quickly evolved into a fusion of writer, researcher, editor, and IT guru. She served as lead writer for the exhibit text; she was a wizard at working with the Omeka platform; and she dedicated herself to pursuing long-buried documentation about Southern’s racial and gender struggles.

Andrew Clark Director of Choral Activities and Senior Lecturer in Music, who brought this project to Harvard undergraduates, both in the classroom and through the performances of Harvard’s choirs. Andy spearheaded our collaboration with the Aeolians from Oakwood University, an HBCU in Alabama.

Braxton D. Shelley Associate Professor of Music, of Sacred Music, and of Divinity, Yale University has been a steady partner since the inception of our project, generously contributing innovative ideas. He played a leading role in our webinars and our collaboration with the Aeolians from Oakwood University.


Thanks to the Radcliffe Institute, which hosted our webinars and helped support the residency of the Aeolians

Tomiko Brown-Nagin Dean, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

Alexander Ferrell Hall Director of Strategic Initiatives, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

Rebecca Wassarman Executive Director of Academic Ventures and Engagement, Radcliffe Institute


Thanks to the Division of Arts & Humanities at Harvard, which through Dean Robin Kelsey provided two separate grants in support of the ESI.


Thanks to Judith B. Walzer, Emerita Provost of The New School for Social Research in New York City, whose extensive 1981 interview with Southern served as a key source for the digital exhibit.

Before joining the New School, Walzer was Director of the Office of Women’s Education at Radcliffe College and later Assistant Dean for Coeducation and Alston Burr Senior Tutor at South House at Harvard College. We are grateful for her initiative and foresight in interviewing the women—only 13 of them at the time—who were tenured in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences.


Thanks to Harvard student researchers

Hannah Ezer (’22) joint concentrator in Social Studies & Studies of Women, Gender, & Sexuality, who as an Arts and Humanities SHARP Fellow processed interviews, created metadata for oral history interviews, edited captions, and helped guide the early design of the website.

Sharri K. Hall graduate student in music, who as a Harvard Library Pforzheimer Fellow conducted a number of interviews, reviewed captions for the oral history interviews, created metadata for the interviews, and assisted with research.

Siriana Lundgren graduate student in music, who began working on the project as part of the seminar, then continued to contribute substantively. She designed the digital map about Southern’s correspondence, serving as lead writer of that page and finalizing its implementation. She also wrote the Glossary, and she conducted many of the oral history interviews.

Eloy Ramirez graduate student in music, who researched and drafted the page about Southern’s scholarship on Renaissance music, her initial area of specialization.


Thanks to students in a seminar, led by Carol Oja, who initiated the exhibit and the interviews

Chris Benham, Samuel Ross Budnyk, Yareli Castro Sevilla, Mattlyn Cordova, Ethan Goodnight, Andrew Guerrero, Julia Harris, Clara Viloria Hernández, Siriana Lundgren, Dylan Nelson, Eve O'Connor, Michael Ortiz, Jewel Pereyra, E. T. Stone


Thanks to the IT and media team for the digital exhibit

Cara Buzzell Web designer, Rhode Island School of Design

Cole Crawford Software Engineer, Harvard Arts and Humanities Research Computing

Nicholas Natale Videographer, Department of Art, Film and Visual Studies, Harvard

Rashmi Singhal Director of Arts & Humanities Research Computing, Harvard


Thanks to Harvard’s Department of Music, which provided financial and administrative support, as well as sharing memories

Kalan Chang Manager of Administration and Finance

Kyra Davies Communications/Publications Coordinator

Grace Edgar Interim Communications/Publications Coordinator

Ingrid Monson Quincy Jones Professor of African American Music and Chair, Department of Music

Nancy Shafman Director of Administration

Kay Kaufman Shelemay G. Gordon Watts Professor of Music

Anne Shreffler James Edward Ditson Professor of Music


Thanks to staff from Harvard Library, which supported the ESI in a multitude of ways

Kerry Conley Director of Communications, Harvard Library

Claire DeMarco Interim Head of Information and Technical Services, Associate Director for UX & Strategy, Harvard Library

Virginia Hunt Associate University Archivist for Collection Development and Records Management Services, Harvard University Archives

Juliana Kuipers Senior Collection Development Curator/Archivist, Harvard University Archives

Thomas Lingner Customer Service Manager, Harvard Library Imaging Services

Sandi-Jo Malmon Interim Richard F. French Librarian and Acting Curator of the Archive of World Music, Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library

Kerry Masteller Reference and Digital Program Librarian, Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library

Liz Berndt-Morris Music Reference and Research Services Librarian, Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library

Robin McElheny Associate University Archivist for Collections and Public Services, Harvard University Archives

Jerome Offord Associate University Librarian for Antiracism, Harvard Library

Jennifer Pelose Collections Services Archivist/Processing Manager, Harvard University Archives

Jehan Sinclair Anti-Black Racism Librarian/Archivist, Harvard Library

Robert Zinck Photographer, Digital Strategies and Innovation, Widener Library


Thanks to archivists and librarians, near and far, who answered our research queries

Colleen Bradley-Sanders College Archivist, Brooklyn College

Sydney Carroll MLIS Archivist, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library/Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte, NC

Kathleen Feeney Head of Archives Processing and Digital Access, The University of Chicago Library

Sarah Hutcheon Research Librarian, Radcliffe Institute, Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America,

Marianna LaBatto Archives and Special Collections, Brooklyn College

Heidi Marshall Head of Archives & Special Collections, Columbia College Chicago

DeLisa Minor Harris Assistant Director of Library, John Hope and Aurelia E. Franklin Library, Fisk University

Angela Proctor University Archivist, The Archives, Manuscripts, and Rare Books Department, John B. Cade Library, Southern University and A&M College

Scott Sheidlower Head of Circulation and Archivist, York College Library, CUNY

Tanya Y. Woods Archivist Clerical Assistant, Archives & Special Collections, Alcorn State University