Vanett Lawler (1902-1972) was an administrator in the field of music education both in the United States and abroad. Her work for the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) (now known as the National Association for Music Education (NAfME)), the Pan American Union, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the International Society for Music Education (ISME) helped create new legislation favorable to the arts, encourage and publish research pertaining to music education, and promote international music education and cooperation. This collection contains her professional papers pertaining to her work with the International Society for Music Education, as Secretary General from 1953-1955 and as Treasurer from 1956 until her death in 1972. There are also materials from the founding of ISME pre-dating her official role as Secretary General. Materials include correspondence, periodicals, photographs, articles, meeting information and agendas, program proposals and outlines, speeches, and various other professional papers.
The collection is open for research use. Materials from this collection must be used in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library's Irving and Margery Morgan Lowens Special Collections Room during SCPA’s operating hours. Please contact the curator for an appointment or if you have questions related to digital access of the materials.
Copyright was not transferred to the University of Maryland with the gift of any copyrighted materials. All rights remain with the creators and rights holders. The University of Maryland Libraries is granted permission for the use in scholarly research by the Libraries’ patrons under fair use in Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act.
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3.00 Linear Feet
The Vanett Lawler ISME papers contain materials relating to the International Society for Music Education ranging in date from 1945 to 1974. The bulk of the material falls between 1958 and 1971. The collection consists of professional papers including correspondence, meeting minutes, newsletters, bulletins, organizational literature, articles, speeches, membership lists, reports, financial records, and photographs.
Vanett Lawler, an administrator in the field of music education and an active promoter of the subject internationally, was born in Rochester, Minnesota in 1902. After abandoning plans to pursue a career as a concert pianist, she instead enrolled in the School of Business and Commerce at the University of Wisconsin, receiving her Bachelor of Arts in 1924. Lawler worked in various advertising and publishing companies until applying for the position of office manager at the newly opened office of the Music Supervisors National Conference in August 1930. She was given the title of Assistant Executive Secretary. In 1934, the organization changed its name to the Music Educators National Conference (MENC), and later to the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). In 1938, MENC began talks with the National Education Association about establishing a closer relationship and Lawler acted as liaison between the two groups during the period of affiliation beginning in 1940, spending much time in Washington, D.C. to facilitate relations. In 1942, her title was changed to Associate Executive Secretary. She retained this position even while on loan from MENC to the Pan American Union (PAU), for which Lawler toured Central and South American countries for six months during 1944 to examine music education programs.
In 1947, the MENC and PAU loaned Lawler to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to serve one year as Acting Director of the Arts and Letters Section which she represented at an international educational conference in Mexico. During this time, Lawler, along with Charles Seeger and other influential musical leaders, helped lay plans within UNESCO to found the International Music Council (IMC) to provide communication for music educators around the world. These plans came into fruition in 1949 and shortly after, in 1951, IMC began a Preparatory Commission for the International Conference on Musical Education to be held in 1953. Lawler worked tirelessly for this Commission which helped sow the seeds for an independent international music organization.
At the International Conference on the Role and Place of Music in the Education of Youth and Adults held in Brussels from June 29 to July 7, 1953, the International Society for Music Education (ISME) was officially founded. An ad interim Board of Directors was established at this meeting to preside until the first meeting of the General Assembly, which was to be held in 1955. During these formative years, Lawler served as Secretary General of ISME while maintaining her new position as Executive Secretary of the MENC. At the first General Assembly, Lawler was elected Treasurer of ISME. She continued to be a driving force behind ISME's undertakings while using her connections with other music organizations to expand ISME's goals.
Lawler suffered from Parkinson's disease during the last years of her life and officially retired from ISME in 1970. Still, she stayed on as Treasurer with help from her assistant, Dorothy Regardie. She remained in this position until her death on February 16, 1972 in Washington, D.C., of complications from pneumonia.
This collection is organized into eleven series:
Acknowledgement letter dated October 19, 1987 and Dorothy Regardie Gift Inventory with three Accession Numbers: (88-7-MENC) delivered July 22 and August 26, 1987; (88-9-ISME) delivered August 5 and 26, 1987; and (88-10-MENC) delivered August 5, 1987. Materials previously housed incorrectly in the Vanett Lawler ISME Papers have been moved to the Vanett Lawler MENC Papers.
Part of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library