Scope and arrangement
Collection consists of personal and professional correspondence, handwritten and printed music, programs, lyrics, scripts, and librettos.
The Elliot Carpenter Papers document the musical career of this composer, arranger, and performer and consists of personal and professional correspondence, handwritten and printed music, programs, lyrics, scripts, and newsclippings. The years from the 1940s to the 1970s are more fully documented than the earlier years. When acquired, these papers lacked any discernable order; the processor has imposed an order based upon type of material. In some instances folder titles written by Carpenter have been retained. Photographs which form part of the Elliot Carpenter Papers are described separately in the Photographs and Prints Division.
The Elliot Carpenter papers are arranged in eight series:
Includes family correspondence with Arthur W. Carpenter (Elliot's uncle), his mother, and others. An informal will indicates that Helen Armstead-Johnson was to receive the papers of Carpenter and his wife Mauvolyene (1974). This series has been arranged chronologically, with the name of significant correspondents and organizations placed alphabetically.
Series contains letters from colleagues and individuals whom Carpenter assisted as a copyist and by revising and doing other related work in the preparation of their musical compositions. Individuals with whom he corresponded include Eubie Blake, Bill Boyd, Everett F. Briggs, Monroe Burnett, Langston Hughes, Helen Armstead-Johnson, Frank Lowry, Ada May, Kahl Ra-Faun, Dove See and Noah M. Thompson. Much of the correspondence pertains to songs he and his colleagues collaborated on. Of interest is correspondence with Eubie Blake which discusses mutual friends, and Carpenter's advice regarding Blake's music and personal matters (1966-1978). Other letters and postcards written by Blake to "Alex" Carpenter, which appears to be Blake=s nickname for Carpenter, also concern Blake's musical activities and travels (1944-1946, 1967). Letters from comedienne Ada May speak about her travels through Europe as a performer during 1946-1959. The series also includes correspondence with several professional organizations Carpenter belonged to: American Guild of Authors and Composers (re copyright notices), ASCAP (performance records), and Musicians' Protective Union. Agreements and contracts provide a fairly comprehensive list of collaborators, songs and fees for Carpenter's work from 1936-1964, and paystubs and earnings statements provide details about the royalties he was paid.
Series consists almost exclusively of manuscript music, mostly copies made by Carpenter for his use as a composer/arranger. Nearly all of the music is accompanied by lyrics. Correspondence between Carpenter and the composers for whom there is music in the collection may be found in the Correspondence series; when a letter exists about a particular piece, a photocopy has been placed in the Music series with the compositions. There are also a number of composers who are represented by both music and lyrics; the different works will be found in the appropriate series.
Series is comprised of lyrics written by Carpenter and other lyricists. Some lyrics appear to have been taken from popular tunes and reworked by Carpenter. Other music was composed by Carpenter with lyrics written by other individuals, among them cowboy Bill Boyd, Nathaniel A. Davis, Lois Faith Kirby, Flourney Miller, and Kahl Ra-Faun. Lyrics written by Carpenter are arranged alphabetically by title; if untitled, they are placed alphabetically by first line. Lyrics by others are organized alphabetically by name of lyricist.
Consists primarily of scripts of varying lengths intended for performances on stage or radio. Most of the scripts were written by Carpenter; one is a treatment for a scene from Showboat, and some were prepared with collaborators such as Clarence Muse. A number of scripts were authored by others, such as the play Topsy Turvy by Jesse Kahn, a black version of Alice in Wonderland, with music by Carpenter. Scripts have been arranged into three groupings: by Carpenter, with collaborators, and by others.
Includes printed and handwritten programs for many of Carpenter's engagements as well as a few cue sheets and related production files.
Series, encompasses two scrapbooks containing primarily newsclippings and some programs, correspondence, greeting cards and invitations discussing Carpenter's performances and activities in the United States. A few programs and newsclippings pertain to performances in England and Brazil; one article was written by Carpenter for the Chicago Defender about the Hollywood's Screen Actor's Ball in 1937.