Scope and arrangement
The Meredith Monk Archive contains substantial documentation of both the artistic and business aspects of Monk’s career and the workings of her company, The House Foundation For The Arts. Major elements of the Archive include personal correspondence; comprehensive collections of concert programs, media clippings, publicity materials and posters; piece and project files, some of which contain Monk’s notes and sketches detailing the evolution of certain works; writings by and about Monk; scores; photographs and drawings; financial and other papers documenting the work of The House Foundation since its inception in 1968; and a collection of books about Monk and the art forms in which she works.
The personal correspondence consists mainly of short notes and fan letters to Monk from friends and admirers. Clippings and concert programs can be researched in two different series, one set organized chronologically and the other by associated piece or project. The piece and project files mostly detail the performance history and media reception of Monk’s work; earlier files generally contain more of Monk’s notes and sketches than later files. Many project files from throughout Monk’s career also contain photographs of her work in rehearsal and performance (see Series VIII). Pieces with substantial historical documentation include 16 Millimeter Earrings, American Archeology #1: Roosevelt Island, Art Performs Life, Atlas, Book Of Days, Education Of The Girlchild, Quarry, and the Tour series. In addition to articles and essays by Monk, the writings include many interviews and interview transcripts with her, as well as academic dissertations and other writings about Monk and her work. While the Archive includes some music scores, they do not form a significant portion of the collection because written scores have never been an important part of Monk’s working method.
The papers of the House Foundation constitute major portions of the Archive and consist mostly of financial, tax, development and other business records. The touring and activity records of the House document Monk and her company’s many tours around the United States and the world and include travel and booking records as well as itineraries and repertory information.
The Meredith Monk archive is arranged in ten series:
- 1959-2006 and undated5 boxes
This series consists primarily of personal and fan letters to Monk from friends, collaborators and, in some cases, strangers. Correspondents include Björk, David Byrne, Michael Cerveris, Blythe Danner, Kenneth King and Rob McBrien (the latter two are longtime friends and collaborators of Monk), as well as Monk’s family and other close friends. Many of the letters are of congratulations following major events such as significant New York performances or the announcement of Monk’s MacArthur Fellowship. There are also nine folders of unidentified correspondents, arranged chronologically.
- 1963-2006 and undated9 boxes
This series consists of an extensive set of media clippings documenting every stage of Monk’s career, beginning while she was still a student at Sarah Lawrence College. Most of the earlier clippings are from New York area newspapers and magazines, but in later years Monk and her staff collected myriad clippings while on tour around the world, and others were sent at a later date by local presenters. Another set of clippings, overlapping with the content of this series, is arranged by project in Series V, Piece And Project Files. See also Oversized Clippings in Box 293, Folder 1, and anthologized journalism in Box 28, Folders 6-7.
- 1960 - 2006 and undated11 boxes
Composed mainly of performance programs, this series also contains press releases and other promotional material for Monk’s work. Many of the earlier posters and flyers were designed and produced by Monk herself. Programs for many of Monk’s pieces can also be found in Series V, Piece And Project Files, arranged by project name. Series VII, Sub-series 2, Development, contains programs for benefits for The House Foundation for the Arts in which Monk performed. See also posters in Oversized Material, Boxes 293-296.
- 1969-2006 and undated3 boxes
This series consists of Monk’s writings and public addresses and writings about Monk by critics, academicians, students and other artists. It also contains a set of interview transcripts of Monk, as well as student papers and theses. See also dissertations and other writings about Monk in books in Series X.
- 1966-2006 and undated31.5 boxes
This series consists mainly of clippings and programs relating to each of Monk’s pieces and other projects. Occasionally there is other documentation, at times extensive, including sketches; notes; correspondence; venue, lighting and other stage information; box office records and other business documentation; and promotional material. Pieces with important documentation beyond programs and clippings include 16 Millimeter Earrings, American Archeology #1: Roosevelt Island, Art Performs Life, Atlas, Book Of Days (much documentation of all its manifesations), Education Of The Girlchild, Quarry, and the Tour series. See also Series VIII: Photographs, which has separate files for many of the pieces found in this series.
- 1972-2005 and undated2 boxes
Scores have never been an important or common part of Monk’s work process; many of her vocal techniques are difficult to notate, and she rarely has proclaimed any of her musical works finished enough to be codified in the form of a score. This series contains full, “finished” scores for Our Lady Of Late and The Politics Of Quiet, and a “working score” for Atlas: an opera in three parts(for rehearsal use only, not for publication). The latter two scores contain explanatory notes from Monk. Other pieces, such as music for Quarry and MATA Chant, consist only of melodic sketches. Other works in this series includeTablet for women’s voices, piano and recorder; Totentanz for six voices and keyboard; and informal pieces like Wedding Song For Andrea And Bert. See also Box 32, Folder 7 and correspondence in Box 38, Folder 3.
- 1959-2006 and undated225 boxes
Most of this series documents the business and financial workings of The House, a non-profit organization that Monk founded in 1968 to run her business and present her work. The first two sub-series, Financial Records and Development, consist mostly of business documents, though Development also has some performance documentation because Monk performed for many of her own benefits. The Activity Files and Touring sub-series mostly document Monk’s performance activities, and have some overlapping content; the Activity Files document Monk’s vocal workshops and art installations in addition to tours and performances, and includes contracts and presenter correspondence, while the Touring Files contain information on the mechanics of booking, networking, travel and publicity surrounding Monk’s tours. The last sub-series, General, contains House papers not directly related to Monk’s performance activities or financial records.
- 1965-2004 and undated5 boxes
This series mostly documents Monk’s work in performance through photographic prints, contact sheets and negatives, covering most of her major pieces from 16 Millimeter Earrings (1966) to Impermanence (2004), as well as various incarnations of Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble and Monk’s art installations. There are also some informal photographs of performances and personal photographs of Monk, as well as drawings and sketches by Monk and others. Series IX, Oversized Material, also contains photographs.
- ca. 1965-20055 boxes
This series contains photographs, clippings, programs and posters. The photographs are, like those in Series VIII, mostly of particular pieces in performance or for publicity. The posters mostly promote Monk performances.
- 1965-20044 boxes
All the books in this series are signed by their authors and/or are inscribed with a message to Meredith Monk. Among the books are two doctoral dissertations and an Italian scholarly journal containing an article about Monk.