William Grant Still Letters

MS St54L 187 Still

Special Collections
University of Arkansas Libraries

365 N. McIlroy Avenue
Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701-4002
Phone: 479-575-8444
Email: specoll@uark.edu

Machine-readable finding aid encoded in EAD by Adam Heien and Laura Iraheta, 2020.

Finding aid is written in English.

Table of Contents

Descriptive Summary

Creator
Still, William Grant, 1895-1978
Title
William Grant Still Letters
Inclusive Dates
1950-1974
Identification
MS St54L 187 Still
Extent
0.25 linear feet (54 items)
Language
Materials are in English.
Repository
Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries

Access Information

Please call (479) 575-8444 or email specoll@uark.edu at least two weeks in advance of your arrival to ensure availability of the materials.

Use Information

No Use Restrictions Apply.

No Interlibrary Loan.

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mary Dengler Hudgins, of Hot Springs, Arkansas in October 1973

Processing Information

Processed by Samuel Sizer

Preferred Form of Citation

William Grant Still Letters (MS St54L 187 Still), Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville.

See Special Collections Citation Guide for more detailed information on how to cite specific documents from the collection.

Biographical Note

William Grant Still was born on May 11, 1895, in Woodville, Mississippi, to William Grant Still, Sr. and Carrie Lena Fambro. Before he was a year old, Still's father died, and his widowed mother arrived in Little Rock, Arkansas, with "Babe Will" to be with her mother, Anne Fambro. Carrie Still taught English in the Little Rock schools, and she did eventually remarry; Charles B. Shepperson, a railway postal clerk, became Still's stepfather. Still's early years were influenced by his mother's discipline and love of learning, his maternal grandmother's singing of Negro spirituals, and his stepfather's collection of Red Seal phonographs.

After graduating as valedictorian in his high school class, Still enrolled in Wilberforce University in 1911 in the Bachelor of Science degree program. Although his grades were above average, Still spent much of his time playing and directing the band, performing with the Wilberforce string quartet, and perusing Carl Fischer catalogues. Leaving Wilberforce before graduation, William Grant Still received a broad musical education that included arranging for Paul Whiteman and Artie Shaw, performing in the bands of W.C. Handy and the "Shuffle Along" band of Eubie Blake, and working in the Pace and Handy Music Publishing Company, as well as studying composition at Oberlin College, at the New England Conservatory with George Whitefield Chadwick, and with Edgar Varese.

Known as the "Dean of Afro-American Composers" during the latter part of his career, Still led a full and productive life as arranger, conductor, lecturer, writer, and composer. It is as composer, however, that he is remembered best. Still's works include nine operas, five symphonies, four ballets, and numerous compositions for voice, keyboard, chamber ensembles, and even two pieces for accordion.

During the 1930s and 1940s Still's compositions were performed by major orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the Boston Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, the London Symphony, and the Tokyo Philharmonic. His Afro-American Symphony was performed in 1931 by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. It was the first symphony by an African-American to be played by a leading orchestra. Other "firsts" for William Grant Still were the following: he was the first African-American to conduct a major orchestra in the United States (Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1936 at the Hollywood Bowl), the first to have a full-length opera performed by a major company (Troubled Island in 1949 by the New York City Opera at City Center), the first to conduct a major orchestra in the Deep South (New Orleans Philharmonic in 1955), and one of the first to write for radio and film.

Among his many honors and awards are a Harmon Award (1927), two Guggenheim fellowships (1934, 1935), two Rosenwald fellowships (1939, 1940), a Freedom Foundation Award (1953), an Honorary Master of Music from Wilberforce University (1936), an Honorary Doctor of Music from Howard University (1941), an Honorary Doctor of Music from Oberlin College (1947), an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Bates College (1954), an Honorary Doctor of Law from the University of Arkansas (1971), an Honorary Doctor of Law from Pepperdine University (1973), and an Honorary Doctor of Law from the University of Southern California (1975). William Grant Still died on December 3, 1978, in Los Angeles.

(Biographical note taken from MC 1125: William Grant Still and Verna Arvey Papers.)

Scope and Content Note

Letters and notes, largely of a personal nature, to Clara B[ernice] Kennan and Mary D[engler] Hudgins pertaining primarily to educational television programs related to the music of WGS and articles written by CBK and MDH about the composer, donation of the Still Papers to the University of Arkansas Library, and WGS's honorary degree from the University in the spring of 1971. Correspondence also refers to Arkansans John [Rowland] Cowell, Margaret Bean Jasper, [John] [Little] McClellan, Sid[ney] [Sanders] McMath, and Florence [Beatrice] [Smith] Price

Related Materials

Records relating to the Sidney S. McMath Papers include:

William Grant Still and Verna Arvey Papers, 1880-1991, MC 1125

William Grant Still Materials, 1922-1988, MC 1797

Arrangement of the Papers

Correspondence is arranged chronologically

Detailed Description of the Collection

The following contains a detailed list of the materials in the collection

Box LOC 131

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 1

TLS to CBK, January 23, 1950 1p.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 2

TNS to CBK, December 6, 1950 1p.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 3

TLS to CBK, April 4, 1951 3p. on 2L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 4

TLS to CBK, July 8, 1951 1p.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 5

TLS to CBK, August 17, 1951 1p.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 6

TLS to MDH, April 12, 1965 1p.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 7

TNI to MDH, May 19, 1965 1p.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 8

TLS To MDH, December 18, 1965 1p.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 9

TLS to MDH, December 20, 1965 1p.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 10

TNI to MDH, January 13, 1966 1p.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 11

TNS to MDH, January 17, 1966 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 12

TLS to MDH, February 7, 1966 1p.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 13

TNS to MDH, 23-Feb-66 1p.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 14

TNS to MDH, April 2, 1966 1p.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 15

TNS to MDH, May 17, 1966 1p.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 16

TNS to MDH, May 27, 1966 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 17

TNI to MDH, June 7, 1966 1p.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 18

TNS to MDH, January 15, 1967 1p.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 19

TNS to MDH, February 3, 1967 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 20

TNS to MDH, May 16, 1967 1p.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 21

TNI (Verna Arvey Still) to MDH, August 20, 1967 1p.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 22

TNS to MDH, August 21, 1967 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 23

TNS to MDH, September 18, 1967 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 24

TNS to MDH, November 13, 1967 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 25

TNS to MDH, July 7, 1968 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 26

TNS to MDH, December 15, 1968 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 27

TNS to MDH, February 15, 1969 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 28

TLS to MDH, March 8, 1969 1p.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 29

TLS to MDH, October 19, 1969 1p.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 30

TNS to MDH, October 26, 1969 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 31

MLS ("The Stills," William Grant Still Verna Arvery Still) to MDH, ca January 1, 1970 1p.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 32

TNS to MDH, February 6, 1970 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 33

TNS to MDH, February 17, 1971 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 34

TNS to MDH, June 15, 1971 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 35

TNS ("The Stills") to MDH, July 21, 1971 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 36

TNS to MDH, August 17, 1971 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 37

TNS to MDH, August 25, 1971 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 38

TNS ("The Stills") to MDH, December 26, 1971 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 39

TNS ("The Stills") to MDH, January 23, 1972 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 40

TNS ("The Stills") to MDH, February 29, 1972 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 41

TLS to MDH, April 9, 1972 1p.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 42

TLS to MDH, June 29, 1972 1p.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 43

TNS to MDH, July 9, 1972 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 44

TNS to MDH, July 19, 1972 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 45

TNI (Verna Arvey Still) to MDH, August 11, 1972 1p.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 46

TNI (Verna Arvey Still) to MDH, September 1, 1972 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 47

TNS ("The Stills") to MDH, September 5, 1972 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 48

TNS to MDH, October 16, 1972 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 49

TNS ("The Stills") to MDH, January 8, 1973 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 50

MLS ("The Stills," Verna Arvery Still and William Grant Still) to MDH, February 1973 2p.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 51

TNS to MDH, April 4, 1973 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 52

TNI (Verna Arvey Still) to MDH, April 6, 1973 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 53

TNS to MDH, October 19, 1973 2p. on 1L.

Box LOC 131 Folder MS St54L 187 Still Item 54

TNI to MDH, July 29, 1974 2p. on 1L.

END OF COLLECTION

University of Arkansas Libraries
365 N. McIlroy Ave.
Fayetteville, AR 72701-4002
  • Phone: 479-575-4104
  • Text/SMS: 479-385-0803
  • Toll-free: 866-818-8115
  • Fax: 479-575-6656