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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) (later the National Association for Music Education (NAfME)), Pan American Union, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and International Society for Music Education 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 for the Music Educators National Conference as Assistant Executive Secretary, Associate Executive Secretary, and Executive Secretary, from 1930 until her retirement in 1968. The collection also includes Lawler's papers pertaining to her work with the Pan American Union while on loan from MENC, as well as her work with the National Education Association, of which MENC is an affiliated organization (and, beginning in 1956, was housed in the NEA building in Washington, D.C). Materials include correspondence, periodicals, photographs, articles, meeting information and agendas, program proposals and outlines, speeches, and various other documents pertaining to MENC, other arts organizations, legislation, and general music education and music information.
There are no restricted files in this collection.
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: http://www.lib.umd.edu/scpa/contact
19.50 Linear Feet
The Vanett Lawler MENC papers covers the period from 1927 to 1975; the bulk of the materials date from 1944-1968. The collection consists of professional papers including correspondence, speeches, performance programs, bulletins, memorandums, project proposals and information, financial records, music education reports, meeting agendas and business, order forms, photographs, press releases, and periodicals. Materials cover Lawler's work with MENC, the Pan American Union, and the National Education Association.
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 and her initial responsibilities included selecting staff, establishing a bank account, organizing equipment, membership files, and mailing lists, and acting as advertising manager of the Music Supervisors Journal (later the Music Educators Journal).
In 1934, the organization changed its name to the Music Educators National Conference (MENC), and later renamed again 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 organizations 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 and she retained this position even while working heavily for the Pan American Union, for which she toured Central and South American countries for six months during 1944 to examine music education programs.
Lawler devoted herself full-time to MENC from 1951-1955 when she worked in a small office in the NEA building in D.C. with two staff members (while the national headquarters remained in Chicago). She was promoted to Executive Secretary of MENC on July 1, 1953. At this time, Lawler also supported the beginning of the Journal of Research in Music Education and served on the American Unity through Music Committee as representative. In 1956, she facilitated the move of the national headquarters from Chicago to Washington, D.C. She remained an important liaison between MENC, NEA, and other NEA-affiliated organizations. Lawler was an important formative member of many of MENC's notable undertakings of the time including the national conventions, the launch of the Contemporary Music Project in 1964, and the Tanglewood Symposium of 1967.
In addition to her work for MENC, Lawler was an avid supporter of international music education study. She was appointed consultant to the Arts and Letters section of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1947, an organization to which Lawler continued to devote much time and service. Lawler also helped found the International Society for Music Education (ISME) for which she worked extensively during her career.
Lawler retired from MENC on June 30, 1968 after 38 years of service. She suffered from Parkinson's disease during the last years of her life and died on February 16, 1972 in Washington, D.C. due to complications from pneumonia. MENC has established a memorial fund in her name.
This collection is organized into six 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