MARIAN ANDERSON at LINCOLN MEMORIAL + PHOTO - SIGNED

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  • Item Category: Books, Paper & Magazines
  • Source: eBay
  • Sold Date: Jan 14, 2007
  • Channel: Auction House
I sang, I don't know how."

A significant pair of items from the career of MARIAN ANDERSON (1897-1993) -- legendary African-American contralto and civil rights icon -- including an original program from her historic Easter Sunday, 1939, concert at the Lincoln Memorial, SIGNED by two of the people most directly responsible for this epoch-making event, Franklin D. Roosevelt's Interior Secretary HAROLD ICKES and his Assistant Secretary, OSCAR CHAPMAN. Also included is an earlier studio portrait of Anderson, SIGNED by her, taken in Vienna during her triumphant tour of Europe.

Howard University and Associated Sponsors Present Marian Anderson at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington; Sunday, April 9. 1939; Five O'Clock. Four pages (one large leaf, folded twice) on heavy card stock, 9 x 6in. SIGNED on the front cover: "Harold L. Ickes" and "Oscar L. Chapman." The front cover also features the opening of Lincoln's Gettysburg address. The second page consists of a list of the event's official "Sponsors," including Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Geraldine Farrar, Kirsten Flagstad, Leopold Stokowski, Frederic March, Katharine Hepburn (as "Katherine"), Mr. and Mrs. Fiorello LaGuardia, Supreme Court justices, senators, cabinet members, and many others.

In early 1939 Anderson was refused permission to appear at Washington, D.C.

"The Lincoln Memorial was administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, so Walter White spoke to Oscar Chapman, the assistant secretary ['a friend of mine for a good many years']"... "Chapman was ecstatic... and went immediately to his boss, Secretary Ickes. Excited by the idea, Ickes hurried over to the White House to catch President Roosevelt, who was preparing to leave town... Eleanor had persuaded him to delay his departure until he could speak to Ickes. 'I don't care if she sings from the top of the Washington Monument,' the president told Ickes, 'as long as she sings.'"

The rest is -- quite literally -- history: on Easter Sunday, 1939, a crowd of 75,000, by far the largest assembled at the Memorial to date, and a radio audience of millions, gatd to hear Anderson (escorted onto the platform by Oscar Chapman) sing "America", Schubert's "Ave Maria", Donizetti's "O mio Fernando", and the spirituals "Gospel Train", "Trampin'", and "My Soul's Been Anchored in de Lord." As an encore (not listed in the program), she sang, fittingly, "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen." As well as a musical and personal triumph for the emotionally overwhelmed Anderson, her performance has been hailed as "one of the most dramatic civil rights spectacles ever" and "the beginning of the modern civil rights movement." ( Sources: Keiler, Marian Anderson: A Singer's Journey ; Freedman, The Voice that Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights ; and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and National Park Service's Lincoln Memorial web sites)

Condition is Very Good or better: a few small, faint creases, light bumping and wear to the edges, otherwise clean and sharp. A remarkable keepsake from one of the most stirring moments in American musical and social history.

Also included is a 7"x5" matte-finish studio portrait of Anderson, SIGNED by her in ink: "Sincerely Marian Anderson." Undated, but from Anderson's appearance and the photographer's imprint ("Vienna, Lotte Meitner-Graf") the photo can fairly safely be dated to ca. 1934, when Meitner-Graf executed similar portraits of the singer. Condition is excellent: a touch of subtle waving to the upper edge of the paper, otherwise clean and crisp.

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