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Society for Ethnomusicology records

 Collection 0054-SCPA

The Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM) was founded in 1955 by David McAllester, Alan Merriam, Willard Rhodes, and Charles Seeger to promote the research, study, and performance of music in all historical periods and cultural contexts. Through its publications and its national and regional meetings, the Society provides a forum for discussion of current scholarly research and fosters the promotion and development of a variety of traditional art forms. The SEM records consist of administrative records; presidential and other executive committee member papers; minutes; reports; membership rosters; financial reports and audits; committee records; chapter records; conference materials; associated organization materials; and publications including the SEM Journal, Newsletter, and audio-visual and monograph series. Some files in this collection are restricted. Please contact the curator for more information.


  • 1953-present
  • Majority of material found within 1955-present

Use and Access to Collection

Boxes 1-10 and 12 of Series 1.1 are restricted until January 1, 2027. Otherwise, the collection is open for research use.

Duplication and Copyright Information

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. Contact the curator for an appointment:


73.25 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Society for Ethnomusicology records cover the period from 1953 to 2015; the bulk of the materials date from 1956 to 2007. The collection consists of administrative records, presidential and other executive committee member papers, minutes, reports, membership rosters, financial reports and audits, committee records, chapter records, conference materials, associated organization materials, and publications including the SEM Journal, Newsletter, and audio-visual and monograph series. Included are papers from SEM Board and Council members, committees, and regional chapters, information from annual meetings, SEM publications, related organizations and correspondence regarding SEM business.


This collection is organized into ten series.

  1. Board of Directors: Correspondence, Minutes, and Other Papers
  2. Council
  3. Constitution and Bylaws
  4. Business Office and Executive Director
  5. Committees, Task Forces, and Special Interest Groups
  6. Annual Meetings
  7. Chapters
  8. Publications
  9. Organizations Related to SEM
  10. Artifacts, and Ephemera

Custodial History

The Society for Ethnomusicology records were donated to the University of Maryland Libraries in November 1988, with many subsequent accruals.

Related Material

Society for Ethnomusicology Website:

Ethnomusicology (Journal for SEM):

SEM on the American Council of Learned Societies Website:

Society for Ethnomusicology records
Stephanie Schmitz, September 2006, Amy Grossnickle in September 2010, and Alex Boatright in September 2012.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Library Details

Part of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library

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