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Edward N. Waters Music Library Association records

 Collection 0377-SCPA

The Edward N. Waters Music Library Association records documents the professional activities of the music librarian and musicologist Edward N. Waters (July 23, 1906–July 27, 1991) immediately before, during, and after his tenure as president of the Music Library Association (MLA), a position he held from 1941 to 1946. Waters also held the position of Assistant Chief of the Music Division at the Library of Congress from 1937 to 1972. The collection primarily consists of correspondence with numerous MLA officers and members, music librarians of U.S. institutions, and officers of other professional associations regarding MLA’s publications, membership, and meetings, both at the chapter and national level. In addition to letters, there are also bibliographies, MLA membership lists and ballots, and edited drafts of publications in progress.


  • 1936–1952
  • Majority of material found within 1942–1946

Conditions Governing Access

Materials from this collection must be used in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library's Irving and Margery Morgan Lowens Special Collections Room, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Please contact SCPA's curator to make an appointment: Email:, Tel: 301.405.9220.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restricted files in this collection.


2.50 Linear Feet

Scope and Contents of Collection

The Edward N. Waters Music Library Association records covers the period from 1936–1952; the bulk of the materials date from 1942–1946. The collection consists of professional papers including unpublished correspondence, telegrams, notes, meeting minutes and reports, conference programs, pamphlet and catalogue drafts, membership lists, paper ballots, and bibliographies related to Waters’ position as president of the Music Library Association (MLA) and Assistant Chief of the Music Division at the Library of Congress. Notable subjects include the creation of the Subject Headings and Code for Music Cataloguing; MLA’s affiliations with the American Library Association (ALA), the National Music Council (NMC), the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA); and the Council of National Library Associations (CNLA); MLA membership campaigns; MLA committee meetings, business, and membership; arrangements for MLA national meetings; publication of the quarterly journal Notes and the joint publication Music and Libraries (MLA and ALA, 1943); and Waters’ work toward an American encyclopedia of music. Recipients of extensive correspondence include John T. Windle, Eva J. O’Meara, James T. Quarles, George Schneider, Amy Sinclair, Gretta Smith, Dr. Harold Spivacke, H. Dorothy Tilly, Richard S. Angell, Lowell P. Beveridge, Otto E. Albrecht, Gladys Caldwell, Gladys Chamberlain, George S. Dickinson, Everett O. Fontaine, Scott Goldthwaite, and Carl H. Milam.

Historical Note

Edward Neighbor Waters (July 23, 1906 – July 27, 1991) was an American music librarian and musicologist. Born in Leavenworth, Kansas, Waters attended the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, earning his B.A. in piano and theory in 1927 and his M.A. in musicology in 1928. While at Eastman, he studied under the tutelage of pianist and composer Max Landow and musicologist Donald N. Tweedy. After graduation, Waters spent a few years in Palmyra, New York working as an organist and piano instructor, and briefly taught at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.

In 1931, Waters was offered a position in the Music Division at the Library of Congress. Over the course of 45 years, he served as Assistant Librarian, Head of Reference (from 1934), Assistant Chief (from 1937), and Chief (from 1972 until his retirement in 1976) of the Music Division. Waters also taught graduate courses in bibliography and musicology at Catholic University from 1937 to 1938, worked as program annotator for the National Symphony Orchestra for nine seasons from 1934 to 1943, and served as compiler of the “Quarterly Book-List” for the Musical Quarterly from 1934 to 1947.

Waters served as president of the Music Library Association (MLA, 1941–1946) and as editor of the MLA journal Notes (1963–1966), the former to which the majority of the correspondence in this collection pertains. Waters also served one term as Secretary of the American Musicological Society (1947–1948) and one term as president of the D.C. Library Association (1967–1968), and was appointed to the editorial board of the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians in 1971. A recipient of numerous academic awards, including an honorary doctorate from the Cleveland Institute of Music in 1973 and the American Liszt Society Medal in 1986, Waters completed a translation of Liszt's biography of Chopin and wrote a definitive biography of the American composer Victor Herbert, as well as the Herbert entries for Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart and the Britannica and Collier's encyclopedias. Upon his death, he left behind an incomplete biography of Liszt that he had begun researching in 1962.

Waters’ first wife was Carrie Wales Baird, a pianist, whom he met at the Eastman School of Music and married on November 29, 1928. They had two children, son Hugh Richard and daughter Lois Elaine. Carrie died on July 11, 1961, and after a 25-day courtship Waters married Lilly Lesin on September 27, 1962, a marriage that lasted until his death.

Custodial History and Acquisitions Information

Waters’ records were transferred to SCPA in the 1980s with other Music Library Association (MLA) materials from the Library of Congress (LC). Materials related to Waters’ work at the Library of Congress were eventually returned to LC but his MLA presidential papers were retained.

Related Materials

Edward N. Waters collection. Music Division. Library of Congress. Last accessed January 27, 2020.

Liszt, Franz. Frederic Chopin. Translated by Edward N Waters. New York: Vienna House, 1973.

Lomax, John A., and Alan Lomax. John A. Lomax: Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads. Edited by E.N. Waters. New York: Collier Books, 1986; Macmillan Co., 1938.

Music Library Association. Code for Cataloging Music; Compiled by a Committee of the Music Library Association. Preliminary Version Issued by Chapters. Washington D.C.: Library of Congress, 1941. Last accessed January 27, 2020.

Music Library Association. Music and Libraries: Selected Papers of the Music Library Association, Presented at Its 1942 Meetings. Edited by Richard S. Hill. Washington, D.C.: Music Library Association, American Library Association, 1943.

Waters, Edward N. “John Sullivan Dwight, First American Critic of Music.” The Musical Quarterly 21, no. 1 (1935): 69–88.

Waters, Edward N. “New Loeffleriana.” Quarterly Journal of Current Acquisitions 1, no. 4 (1944): 6–14.

Waters, Edward N. “A Brahms Manuscript: The Schicksalslied.” Quarterly Journal of Current Acquisitions 3, no. 3 (1946): 14–18.

Waters, Edward N. Autograph Musical Scores and Autograph Letters in the Whittall Foundation Collection. Music Division. Library of Congress. Washington D.C.: Library of Congress and Gertrude Clarke Whittall Foundation, 1951. Last accessed January 27, 2020.

Waters, Edward N. “A Letter from Liszt to Longfellow.” Quarterly Journal of Current Acquisitions 12, no. 1 (1954): 1–13.

Waters, Edward N. “American Musical History and Victor Herbert.” Notes 13, no. 1 (1955): 33–40.

Waters, Edward N. “Liszt and Longfellow.” The Musical Quarterly 41, no. 1 (1955): 1–25.

Waters, Edward N. “Chopin by Liszt.” The Musical Quarterly 47, no. 2 (1961): 170–194.

Waters, Edward N. “Franz Liszt to Richard Pohl.” Studies in Romanticism 6, no. 4 (1967): 193–202.

Waters, E. N. “Liszt, Bayreuth's Forgotten Man.” Studia Musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 11, no. 1–4 (1969): 473–480.

Waters, Edward N. “‘Problems of Music Bibliography in the United States.” Yugoslav-American Seminar on Music (1968: Sveti Stefan). Papers of the Yugoslav-American Seminar on Music. Edited by Malcolm Hamrick Brown. Bloomington: Indiana University, 1970. 95–112.

Waters, Edward N. “Musical Vienna in the Library of Congress.” In Festschrift Josef Stummvoll. Edited by J. Mayrhofer and W. Ritzer. Vienna: Brüder Hollinek, 1970. 593–615.

Waters, Edward N. “Sur la piste de Liszt.” Notes 27 (1970–71): 665–670.

Waters, Edward N. Victor Herbert: A Life in Music. Da Capo Press Music Reprint Series. New York: Da Capo Press, 1978; Macmillan Co., 1955.

Waters, Edward N. Liszt Holographs in the Library of Congress. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1979.

Waters, Edward N. “Presenting Mrs. Franz Liszt.” American Liszt Society Journal 7 (1980): 6–16. [no online access]

Edward N. Waters Music Library Association records
Rachel Ruisard
January 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Library Details

Part of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library

University of Maryland Libraries
8270 Alumni Drive
College Park MD 20742 United States