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Eileen Southern: 1920-2002
Eileen Southern
Scholar, writer, editor

Born: 1920 in Minneapolis,
Died: October 13, 2002 in Port Charlotte, Florida

Scholar and writer

Copyright © 2002 


Dr. Eileen Jackson Southern documented the history and scope of African-American contributions to American music in her roles as researcher, author and teacher.

She was the first black woman to be appointed a tenured full professor at Harvard University. Her best known book is the seminal history The Music of Black Americans (1971), now in its third edition.

She also compiled the Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musicians (Greenwood, 1982). She founded Black Perspectives in Music in 1973, with her husband, Prof. Joseph Southern. It was the first musicological journal on the study of black music, and she was its editor until it ceased publication in 1990.

She received a National Humanities Medal in 2001 for having "helped transform the study and understanding of American music." She also received a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Society of American Music in 2000.

She headed the department of Afro-American Studies at Harvard University from 1975 to 1979, and retired in 1987 as a professor emeritus.

She is survived by her husband, a daughter, a son, a sister, and three grandchildren.

JJA members are invited to submit a full obituary or appreciation.

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With 1 reader comment, posted February 22, 2007