On your next visit to the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, take the stone steps to the second and third floors. In the stairwell, you’ll be greeted by three striking portraits of Eileen Southern (1920-2002), a professor in Harvard University’s Department of Music and Department of Afro-American Studies from 1974 to 1986. Professor Southern’s book The Music of Black Americans: A History, now in its third edition and most recently reprinted in 2022, essentially created a new academic subfield — Black music studies.
These portraits were discovered in a HOLLIS Images search for “Eileen Southern.” HOLLIS Images brings together image content from archives, museums, libraries and other collections across Harvard. High-quality images are readily available to view and download.
Professor Southern’s childhood in Minnesota, her studies at the University of Chicago and New York University, her years of teaching at HBCUs, and her deep and innovative study of early European music and African American music are described on Eileen Southern and The Music of Black Americans, a digital exhibition created by Harvard students, faculty and staff.
Contributed by Christina Linklater, Keeper of the Isham Memorial Library and Houghton Music Cataloger. Christina Linklater was co-director of the Eileen Southern Initiative.