Anderson, Marian. (1897–1993)

Lincoln Memorial Concert—Signed Program and Photo Ensemble in Frame

Powerful ensemble of materials from Marian Anderson’s historic concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939. Grouping consists of two copies, front and back, of the program, the former bearing Anderson's signature in ink, and two modern reprint photographs from the concert: a detail of Anderson in three-quarter profile singing, and a general view from the Lincoln Memorial over the reflecting pool toward the Washington Monument, showing the assembly of more than 75,000 listeners. All four items double-mounted in Prussian blue mat with gold accents in gilded wood frame, each item approx. 6 x 8 inches (15 × 20 cm), total framed approx. 18 × 27.5 inches (46 × 70 cm). Pocket on back, seemingly the remainder of the programs, without the covers. Various components unexamined out of frame, but in apparently fine condition.

Anderson’s 1939 concert at the Lincoln Memorial was a milestone in national discourse and action about racial justice. The celebrated black contralto had been prohibited by the Daughters of the American Revolution from performing at Constitution Hall on the basis of its “white performers only” policy, and subsequently denied in the petition for an exceptional case. Eleanor Roosevelt resigned her membership to the DAR over the affair, and largely through the First Lady’s arrangement, Anderson performed first at the White House and then at the Lincoln Memorial, to the attention of throngs that spilled beyond the mall, and for millions of listeners by radio broadcast. The present concert program lists Finnish pianist and composer Kosti Vehanen as her accompanist, and is captioned, “Howard University and Associated Sponsors”.

The concert program as follows:
America (My Country, ‘Tis of Thee)
Aria, “O, Mio Fernando,” from Act III of La Favorita—Gaetano Donizetti
Ave Maria—Franz Schubert
Gospel Train—Negro spiritual, arr. Harry Burleigh

Trampin’—Negro spiritual, arr. Edward Boatner
My Soul Is Anchored in the Lord—Negro spiritual, arr. Florence Price

Anderson was a great favorite of Toscanini and, in 1955, broke the color barrier by becoming the first African-American to perform at the Metropolitan Opera. She remains a legendary figure in the history of opera, remembered for, among other highlights, her Lincoln Memorial concert and her performances at the inaugurations of both Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy. (18343)

Unsigned Photograph