Emma L. Ashford Papers
Scope and Contents
The collection consists of one box, covering approximately .42 linear feet. It is arranged in three series.
Series I is made up of Mrs. Ashford’s music. It includes many of the pieces she composed for occasions at Vanderbilt. In addition, there are some examples of her other work, such as children’s song cycles and piano voluntaries for church services.
In Series II, the work of Mabel Lee McFerrin is represented. Ms. McFerrin was a contemporary of Emma Ashford at Vanderbilt.
Series III is a collection of printed sheet music and song books pertaining to Vanderbilt University. There is also a 45 RPM phonograph recording.
Biographical Note - Emma L. H. Ashford
In 1884, the couple moved to Nashville, where Mr. Ashford became an instructor in the department of Mechanical Engineering at Vanderbilt University. Mrs. Ashford began to compose and to immerse herself in the musical life of the university and the community. She soon became famous on campus for her compositions about Vanderbilt. Dean Herbert Tolman said of her, “Of the women of our city, some have distinguished themselves in literature and some in art, but in the realm of musical composition, there is one name that stands pre-eminent. It is the name of Mrs. Emma L. Ashford.”
Mrs. Ashford was a prolific composer, as well as a frequent conductor of her work. She composed over 600 pieces of music, including organ voluntaries, sacred cantatas, hymns, song cycles, anthems, and graded works for piano and organ instruction. She traveled throughout this country and abroad, performing or conducting her work. In addition to this recognition, she won numerous prizes in international song and anthem contests.
Among her works written for Vanderbilt, the most acclaimed was “Vanderbilt Ode”, written in 1900 for Vanderbilt’s 25th birthday celebration. A memorable performance of this work occurred in 1926 at the War Memorial Auditorium with the Nashville Symphony and a large chorus. The evening concluded with Chancellor Kirkland complimenting Mrs. Ashford publicly with the following remarks: “As long as men love the beautiful in music, so long will your name live and be cherished by Vanderbilt men and women.”
Mrs. Ashford died September 22, 1930 at her home in Nashville.
1.5 Linear Feet (1 flat box)
Language of Materials
- Finding Aid for the Emma L. Ashford Papers
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
Part of the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Repository
Jean and Alexander Heard Library
419 21st Avenue South
Nashville TN 37203 United States