Saturday, February 23 • 2:30pm - 2:55pm
Meet Me in St. Louis!: Music, Race, and a Web Exhibit of the 1904 World’s Fair

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Limited Capacity seats available

Shared notes for this session: https://goo.gl/mfMmZD

Gaylord Music Library at Washington University in St. Louis has over seventy pieces of sheet music concerning the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, better known as the 1904 World’s Fair. While exemplary digital sheet music collections abound, such as IN Harmony (Indiana University) or the Lester S. Levy Collection (Johns Hopkins University), Gaylord faced several unique challenges in digitally presenting this important local collection.

First, the Library wanted to highlight the collection’s St. Louis connections, which also includes publications from Chicago, New York City, and elsewhere. Second, the Library wished to provide access to audio examples, but many pieces had never been commercially recorded. Finally, St. Louis’s long history of racism was evident both at the fair and in its sheet music. The local music industry usually presented St. Louis as a base of Eurocentric cultural production. Yet tension loomed between the Exposition’s musical celebration of European culture and the expanding relevance of non-European popular traditions. It was necessary to acknowledge the city’s difficult history even while commemorating one of its defining moments. 

In this presentation, I outline the steps Gaylord followed to create its web exhibit, Meet Me in St. Louis!: Class, Race, and Sheet Music at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Coordinating with the larger university library system and the music department, library staff digitized the sheet music, selected representative samples, staged a public recital, and produced audio recordings with the help of local and student musicians. All these materials were then contextualized in an online exhibit utilizing the Omeka platform. The project modeled a successful engagement with multiple university and local history communities.

avatar for Karen Olson

Karen Olson

Music Library Associate, Washington University in St. Louis
Karen Olson earned a PhD in historical musicology specializing in British environmental politics and the music of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. She manages stacks, circulation, and student workers for Washington University's Gaylord Music Library, and is completing an MLS from the University... Read More →

Saturday February 23, 2019 2:30pm - 2:55pm CST
Grand Ballroom ABC
  Program Session