Collection ID: ATM Manuscript Collection 1.(MC 1)
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Collection context


Boulton, Laura, Porter, Shirley, and Laura Boulton Foundation, Inc.
This collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, and other written materials related to Laura Boulton's career. The majority of the papers are from the 1920s-1970s. This collection also includes newspaper clippings and other ephemera, as well as descriptive notes for field recordings and photographs made by Boulton.
170 Boxes
Materials are primarily in English .
Preferred citation:

[Item], Laura Boulton Collection, MC 1, Archives of Traditional Music, Indiana University, Bloomington.


Biographical / Historical:

Laura Boulton was born in Conneaut, Ohio on January 4, 1899. She studied vocal performance as an undergraduate at Western Reserve University and Denison University. During the 1920s she began her graduate studies in anthropology at the University of Chicago. During these studies, she participated in an expedition to Africa for the American Museum of Natural History. This expedition marked the start of a 50-year career in the field as an ethnomusicologist. For the rest of her life, she traveled throughout the world, recording and filming the musical traditions she encountered along the way. When not abroad, she made a name for herself giving many public lectures on her experiences. She formed the Laura Boulton Foundation in 1977, a non-profit organization involved in supporting research in ethnomusicology.

During her career, she released numerous documentary films, articles, and music albums based on her work in the field, and also designed many museum exhibits and published an autobiography, The Music Hunter. The collection of musical instruments she amassed during her travels is now housed at the Mathers Museum of World Culture in Bloomington, Indiana.

The recordings and documents that were the output of Boulton's career are now held by many institutions; including Indiana University, Harvard University, Columbia University, the University of Arizona, and the Library of Congress.

Scope and Content:

This collection mainly involves materials created during Laura Boulton's career as an ethnomusicologist, during the years 1922-1980. These materials include correspondence sent and recieved by Boulton, research notes, news clippings and ephemera, descriptive notes for recordings, drafts for publications, information relating to her instrument collection, and personal materials. The publication drafts include journal articles, album liner notes, television and radio programs, documentary films, and her autobiography, The Music Hunter. Also included are materials created by Shirley Porter under her capacity as head of the Laura Boulton Foundation after Boulton's death, 1981-1992.

Acquisition information:
This collection was recieved from the Laura Boulton Foundation in 1996.

The collection is divided into nine series, with several subseries underneath each of them. The arrangement is as follows:

1. Correspondence, 1922-1980. Incoming and outgoing. Also includes Shirley Porter correspondence, 1981-1992.

2. Publicity, 1916-1981. Subseries: Newspaper Clippings, Publicity and Brochures, Who's Who Listings, Cards and Invitations.

3. Research. Subseries: Research Notes, CVs and Grant Proposals, Lecture Notes, Drafts, Published Material, Radio and TV presentations, Album liner notes, Bibliographies, Music Transcriptions.

4. Audio-Visual Documentation. Subseries: Audio Recordings, Films, Photographs.

5. Instrument Collection. Subseries: Administrative, Public, Inventory, Instrument Descriptions, Miscellaneous.

6. The Music Hunter. Subseries: Full Drafts, Miscellaneous, Chapter Drafts.

7. Library Collection. Subseries: Specific to Geographic Areas, Topic Areas, Professional Societies, Miscellaneous, News Clippings, Maps and Brochures.

8. Personal, 1921-1980. Subseries: Flyers and Announcements, Invitations, Addresses and Lists, Finance, Legal; etc., Miscellaneous.

9. Shirley Porter Materials.



This collection is open for research. Some images may be under copyright.


All requests for copying and publishing materials must be submitted in writing to the Archives of Traditional Music. Some publication requests may also require the written permission of the depositor, collector, interviewer, interviewees, and/or performers.


[Item], Laura Boulton Collection, MC 1, Archives of Traditional Music, Indiana University, Bloomington.

Indiana University Bloomington
1165 East 3rd Street
Morrison Hall 117
Bloomington, Indiana 47405, United States
Indiana University Bloomington