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American Music Research Center records

Identifier: CoU-AMRC-1

Scope and Contents

Records of the American Music Research Center, founded by Sister Mary Dominic Ray (1913—1994) at Dominican College (1969), acquired by the University of Colorado at Boulder (1989), including catalogues, publicity materials, research records, correspondence, business and transaction records, finding aids, photographs, scrapbooks, board records and event documentation. Includes materials from Dominican College and the University of Colorado at Boulder.


  • Creation: 1969-present


The collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the American Music Research Center.

History of the American Music Research Center

The AMRC began in late 1958 when Sister Mary Dominic Ray of Domincan College, San Rafael, California, became interested in preserving the history of American music, especially Moravian Music. By the fall of 1967, with her continuous research, determination, perserverance, and personal collecting of early American sheet music, recordings, books, and original tune books, the AMRC became official. Sister Mary convinced the Dominican College president, chairman of the Music Department, and the Northern District of the California Federation of Music Clubs to sponsor and support the AMRC.

The formal opening was February 18, 1968, with “Tea and Tour” and lecture. From that time on the AMRC collections grew in Moravian Music, Comic Operas, 18th and 19th C. psalmody, California mission music, American sheet music and scores, and recordings. Sister Mary coordinated and promoted many American musical performances. She lectured extensively in the U.S. and England on many American music topics.

Due to Sister Mary’s failing health and Dominican College’s lack of interest and support of the AMRC, in 1988, Sister Mary contacted several universities about purchasing the entire AMRC and keeping it as an intact entity. The University of Colorado was indeed interested and had the financial backing to complete the transfer.

Prof. William Kearns and Music Librarian Karl Kroeger went to San Rafael, Ca., in January 1989, to pack and ship the entire AMRC to its new home in Boulder, Co. The AMRC doubled CU’s 18th and 19th C. tune books and other American music collections. CU immediately added the Ben Gray Lumpkin Folksong Collection, prominent Colorado composers Cecil Effinger and Normand Lockwood Collections, and the Alvin Layton silent film music collection to the AMRC.

Dir. William Kearns began publishing the AMRC Journal in 1991, with academic papers on American music. Dir. Kearns continued to encourage performances of American music including the Harrison-Wolzien Duo CD, the Erich Katz and Cecil Effinger memorial concerts and a concert using sheet music from the Morris Dry Collection.

In the fall of 1992, a new director, Prof. Thomas Riis, began a new era in the AMRC. He continued the fellows program with Dr. Helen Walker-Hill, Dr. Harry Eskew, and Dr. Susan Porter. He also continued and expanded the AMRC Journal. Concerts and festivals expanded hosting the Modern Music Festival, the Rocky Mountain Ragtime Festival, the Charles Eakin 70th Birthday concert, a College of Music Heritage Conference, and collaborative programs with other Centers.

Acquisitions poured in including the John & Anna Gillespie piano music, Lillian Kessler 19th C. sheet music, George Lynn, Perry Como, Dave Grusin, Jean Berger, and the Walter Collins College Songbook collections.

Director Tom Riis formed the AMRC Advisory Board who supported the many activities. In 1995, the AMRC began the Susan Porter Memorial Symposium series. These became an international conference series with topics such as: 1995 “American Music-American Women”, 1998 “Early American Musical Theater”, 2001 “Hollywood Musicals and Music in Hollywood”, and 2004 “Nadia Boulanger and American Music”.

In 1999, a full-time Archivist was assigned to the AMRC to organize collections and create finding aids for better access. The AMRC expanded their facilities in 2002 with a move to Macky Auditorium on the CU campus. With this expansion the vast Glenn Miller Archive, under the direction of Alan Cass, became part of the AMRC.

During the first 10 years at the University of Colorado, AMRC collections supported at least 10 Ph.D. dissertations. The American Music Research Center continues to be a rare music resource dedicated to exploring and preserving the rich traditions of American music – classical, traditional, and popular.


10 linear feet

Language of Materials



Collection is arranged by Series I (1969-1988), Series II (1989-present), Series III (Other Related Materials), and alphabetically by topic.

Physical Location

Housed in the American Music Research Center B66 E2 B63 F3-6 B63 G1

The American Music Research Center records
An inventory of holdings at the American Music Research Center
Conversion Draft
Cassandra M. Volpe
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written inEnglish.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States