Richard Peterson Papers

Identifier: MSS.0780

  • Staff Only


  • Majority of material found within 1970 - 2010

Conditions Governing Access

This collection may be viewed only in the reading room of Special Collections in the Jean and Alexander Heard Library. Collections should be requested 2-3 days prior to visiting in order to facilitate easier access. For questions or to request a collection, contact

Biographical / Historical

Richard Austin Peterson (1932 – 2010) was an American sociologist and Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Vanderbilt University.

Richard Peterson was born in Mussoorie, British India. He received his PhD in sociology in 1962 from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. Since 1965, Peterson worked as a professor of sociology at Vanderbilt University. Having found itself in the capital of country music, Peterson went on to study country music from a sociological perspective and the reasons for Nashville becoming the center of the music industry. He immersed himself in the Nashville music scene and connected with many significant figures in the music business and attended numerous concerts and recording sessions, including with such as Chet Atkins, Waylon Jennings, Hank Snow, and Charley Pride. The results of his extensive research were published in his book Creating Country Music: Fabricating Authenticity (University of Chicago Press: 1997). He is also well-known for his work on the concept of Production of culture.

Peterson served in numerous administrative positions over the years, including chair of his Vanderbilt department and director of Vanderbilt-in-England during the 1980s. He was the founding chairman of the American Sociological Association's culture section, and the section's prize for the best graduate student paper is named in honor of him. He served as editor or associate editor of several journals and publications, including International Journal of Empirical Research on Literature, the Media and the Arts. In addition, he was a former consultant to National Public Radio.


37.5 Linear Feet (30 Paige boxes)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

Offsite Storage, Special Collections & Archives

Finding Aid for the Richard Peterson Papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Library
1101 19th Ave. S.
Nashville TN 37212 United States


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