In addition to hundreds of rare books and scores, individually cataloged in Oberlin's online library catalog, the Conservatory Library's special collections comprise the following:

The Frederick R. Selch Collection of American Music History (1500s-1900s) contains 6,000 books representing the most influential writings in the history of musical thought, sheet music such as the Fanny Kemble-Pierce Butler-Owen Wister family collection, as well as paintings, prints, drawings, tintypes, slides, and paper photographs documenting amateur musical practices in America.  Selch’s personal papers are also part of the collection along with ca. 800 musical instruments including several double basses and church bass viols made by 19th century American luthier Abraham Prescott.

The James R. and Susan Neumann Jazz Collection (1933-2011) comprises over 100,000 jazz recordings in various formats (78s, 45s, LPs, CDs, DVDs) as well as print materials, including 2,000 books on jazz, and over 100 titles of jazz and blues periodicals. Thousands of musicians’ photographs and autographs, as well as sheet music, artifacts, and ephemera complete the holdings.  The initial portion of the collection (40,000 LPs, 7,000 78s, periodicals, concert programs, record catalogs, sheet music, and film posters) is currently being cataloged and digitized.

(The Hinton Collection is currently being processed.  A link to the collection's finding aid will be made available once work is complete.)
The Milton J. and Mona C. Hinton Collection comprises materials created or compiled by Milt and Mona Hinton over the course of their lives.  Hinton, a distinguished jazz bassist and photographer, enjoyed an extensive career that stretched from the 1920s through the end of the 20th century.  Embracing jazz and popular music, he played with such greats as Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, and Barbra Streisand. The collection includes date books, correspondence, financial records, artifacts, newspaper clippings, photographs, and other materials that provide an unrivalled view onto the life of one of the most accomplished bass players of the twentieth century.

Oberlin Conservatory Library Collection of Musicians’ Autographs and Photographs (1786-1985)
. This collection contains autographs, letters, stamps, and photographs of musicians arranged in provenance-based series that include Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Best, Frederick G. Marks, and others. Among the musicians represented are C.P.E. Bach, Richard Wagner, Nadia Boulanger, and Clara Schumann.  

Violin Society of America / Herbert K. Goodkind Collection (1659-1996)
. The collection includes over 1,200 books and periodical titles on the violin (17th-20th centuries), 1,500 scores, ca. 550 auction catalogs, miscellaneous research files, institutional records for the VSA, and a variety of visual materials.


Annapolis Brass Quintet Scores and Correspondence (1971-1993)
. The Annapolis Brass Quintet was the first full-time performing brass ensemble in the U.S.  The collection contains 1,150 performance scores, commissioned manuscripts, and correspondence.


Martha Pryor Collection of Robert Shaw Letters, 1961-1967.  Robert Lawson Shaw (1916-1999) was a music director and choral conductor professionally active from the late 1930s through the 1990s. He was the associate conductor for the Cleveland Orchestra from 1956 through 1967. This collection consists of 99 items, primarily letters, from Shaw or his associates to members of the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus from 1961 through 1967.

Lelia "Lee" Holloway Popular Song Sheet Music Index. Lelia "Lee" Holloway was a 1927 graduate of Oberlin College who went on to enjoy a long career as a reference librarian for the Oberlin College Library.  The collection contains nearly 3,000 pieces of popular sheet music, dating primarily from the first half of the twentieth century, that Holloway compiled and curated during her time at Oberlin.
General Information
The primary mission of the Oberlin College Library's special collections is to preserve and promote access to historically and artistically significant materials, as well as subject-based collections that support teaching, learning, and individual research within the framework of the undergraduate curriculum of Oberlin College. This mission is carried out in a variety of ways; including generous patron access, collection development, collection description and digitization, individual and class instruction, exhibits, and other forms of pedagogical outreach.

The Conservatory Library's special collections include autographs, rare printed and manuscript music, books and periodicals on music, sound recordings, and a variety of ephemera and iconography – photographs, engravings, paintings, posters, and playbills.

Reading Room Hours: by appointment only

Classroom Use: Class sessions are encouraged and can be structured to serve a variety of disciplines and instructional goals.  In some circumstances, items can be made available to faculty for lectures as well.

Contact: email to request individual access or class sessions

Permissions: information is available here
Digital Collections
Materials from the Conservatory Library's special collections are available digitally, including a selection of iconography from the Frederick R. Selch Collection, a selection of film posters from the James R. and Susan Neumann Jazz Collection, as well as the majority of items from the Conservatory Library Collection of Musicians' Autographs and Photographs.

Additionally, work digitizing audio from the Neumann Jazz Collection is ongoing.  Digitized material can be found through Oberlin's online library catalog, and streaming access to digitized audio is available to Oberlin students and staff.  Information on accessing audio from the Neumann Collection is available here.

Information regarding these and other of Oberlin College's digital collections is available here.
Subject Specialist
Picture: Jeremy Smith

Jeremy Smith
Special Collections Librarian
Tel: (440)775- 5181

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