Scope and arrangement
The Mary Howe Papers document in great detail the life and career of an important American composer and patron of music in the city of Washington, DC. They consist of 36.3 linear feet of material dating from 1884 to 1972, with the bulk dating from ca. 1910 to 1964. The Papers consist primarily of scores from every phase of Howe’s compositional life; professional and personal correspondence and writings; biographical material; concert programs and business papers. The collection also contains scrapbooks, photographs and a small set of books.
The Mary Howe papers are arranged in six series:
- 1897 - 1964 and undated39.5 boxes
This series contains work from every phase of Howe’s composing career. It includes both published and unpublished scores and parts, sketches, song texts, and three sets of indexes of her compositions.Sub-series 1: Scores, 1897 - 1964 and undated Sub-series 2: Song texts and poems, undated Sub-series 3: Composition indexes, ca. 1940 and undated
- 1911 - 1967 and undated8.5 boxes
This series holds the portion of Howe’s papers that she organized by topic. It consists of personal and professional correspondence, clippings, business papers, promotional material, concert programs and ephemera. The largest portions of the series document the National Symphony Orchestra and its music director, Hans Kindler, mostly in the 1940s. Howe and her husband were highly active in the NSO; they were among its co-founders in 1931 and this series contains significant documentation of the orchestra’s history and of Kindler in particular, including the events leading to his resignation in 1948.
Howe’s creative career is documented by a set of correspondence and papers documenting her performances with her piano duo partner Anne Hull, as well as by correspondence and papers relating to the two artist colonies she was associated with, the Huntington Hartford Foundation and the MacDowell Colony.
Other topics documented in this series are the National Federation of Music Clubs, in which Howe was highly active; the Friends of Music of the Library of Congress, which she took part in establishing; and the career of the conductor William Strickland, a friend of Howe’s who conducted and introduced her music in Europe. The series also contains a set of meeting minutes, press releases and preliminary plans for the National Cultural Center (which eventually became the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts).
- 1884 - 1969 and undated16 boxes
This series consists of the portion of Howe’s papers that she did not organize. It consists primarily of correspondence but also includes personal writings, biographical material and financial and other business correspondence. Notes from Howe’s son Calderon can be found throughout this series. Correspondence dating from after Mary Howe’s death is usually to or from either Calderon Howe or Anne Hull, Howe’s business manager.Sub-series 1: Professional, 1912 - 1969 and undated Sub-series 2: Personal, 1884 - 1964 and undated
- 1947 - 19646 boxes
The total of nine scrapbooks in this series contain a mixture of correspondence, photographs, concert programs, clippings and ephemera, and cover the later portions of Howe’s career. The earliest one documents the late career of Hans Kindler with the National Symphony Orchestra, and the 1954 - 1955 scrapbook contains photos and documentation of William Strickland. The 1962 - 1963 scrapbook documents Howe’s surprise 80th birthday concert and includes many photographs. At least one additional scrapbook was dismantled at an undetermined point prior to the final processing of this collection in 2005. The contents of this scrapbook can be found throughout the collection.
- ca. 1929 - 1965 and undated1 box
Most of the photographs are color and black and white prints of Howe’s home in Washington, taken in the year after her death in 1964. Printed guides, probably written by Calderon Howe, accompany the photographs. The remainder of the photographs are small images of, among others, Howe, Anne Hull and Hans Kindler. The scrapbooks in Series IV contain many other photographs.
- 1931 - 19721 box
The books in this series were either inscribed to Howe or contain her annotations. One, by Anne Hull, was given to Calderon Howe in 1972 and contains her remembrances of Howe and Hans Kindler.