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Allen Perdue Britton papers

 Collection 0135-SCPA

Allen Perdue Britton (1914-2003) was a prominent figure in American music educator. Britton served as a professor of Music at the University of Michigan, eventually serving as Dean of the School of Music. Britton was the founding editor of the Journal of Research in Music Education and American Music, and served on the Board of Directors and Trustees of numerous musical societies, and President of the Music Educators National Conference (MENC), now known as the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), and Sonneck Society for American Music. The collection consists of both personal and professional correspondence, copies of Britton's writings and speeches, documents relating to his involvement with MENC and Sonneck Society, professional and service activities, and documents relating to his career as a music educator.


  • 1888-2000
  • Majority of material found within 1938-2000

Use and Access to Collection

There are no restricted files in this collection.

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. Please make an appointment with the curator: Tel: 301.405.9220, Email:


115.75 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Allen Perdue Britton papers cover the period from 1943 to 2000. The collection consists of personal and professional correspondence, biographical materials, published and unpublished writings and speeches, materials related to his involvement in professional organizations including MENC and the Sonneck Society, datebooks, and materials related to his work as a music educator, including his work at the University of Michigan.


Allen Perdue Britton (1914 – 2003), a prominent figure and pioneer in American music education and musicology, served as president of the Music Educators National Conference (MENC), now known as the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), and the Sonneck Society for American Music, as well as committee member of the Museum for American Music, the University Musical Society, and the Interlochen Center for the Arts. Britton graduated from the University of Illinois in 1937 with a Bachelors in Instrumental Music, followed by a Masters in Education in 1939 and a Ph.D. in Musicology from the University of Michigan in 1949. A dean and professor for the University of Michigan School of Music, Britton was named dean and professor emeritus in 1984. Britton also served as Acting Dean for the Manhattan School of Music, as well as the Peabody Conservatory of Music. His accomplishments include authoring several books and being the founding editor of the Journal of Research in Music Education and American Music.

Life Chronology

  1. 1914 Born May 25, Elgin, Illinois
  2. 1930-1938 Member of various professional dance bands and orchestras
  3. 1937 University of Illinois, B.Sc. With honors (Instrumental Music)
  4. 1938 Married Veronica Fern Wallace
  5. 1939 University of Illinois, M.A. (Education)
  6. 1943-1946 Technical Sergeant, US Army, member of military and dance bands
  7. 1949 University of Michigan, Ph.D. (Musicology)
  8. 1949-1969 Professor of Music, University of Michigan
  9. 1949-1969 Lecturer, School of Education, University of Michigan
  10. 1950 PhD dissertation "Theoretical Introductions in American Tune-Books to 1800" published
  11. 1953-1972 Founding Editor, Journal of Research in Music Education
  12. 1956-1959 Director, the University of Michigan Division of the National Music Camp
  13. 1959-1969 Chairman, Department of Music Education, School of Music, the University of Michigan
  14. 1960-1962 President, Music Educators National Conference
  15. 1960-1962 Assistant Dean, School of Music, the University of Michigan
  16. 1961-1969 Chairman, Faculty Council on Doctoral Studies, School of Music, the University of Michigan
  17. 1962-1969 Associate Dean, School of Music, the University of Michigan
  18. 1962-1975 Member, USO Overseas Tours Screening Committee
  19. 1963 Elected to the Council of the American Musicological Society
  20. 1963 Participant, Yale Seminar on Music Education
  21. 1963-1964 Consultant, Committee on Music Education of President's Panel on Educational Research and Development (USA)
  22. 1964-1969 Consultant, Juilliard Repertory Project
  23. 1964-1974 Member, Arts and Humanities panel, U.S. Office of Education
  24. 1964-1976 General editor, Prentice-Hall, "Foundations of Music Education"
  25. 1964-1984 Board of Directors, Musical Youth International
  26. 1966 Director, International Seminar on Teacher Education in Music
  27. 1967 Participant, Tanglewood Symposium on Research in Music Education
  28. 1967-1970 Member, Museum of American Music executive committee
  29. 1967-1970 Member, Advisory Council Institute for Studies in American Music
  30. 1969-1971 Acting Dean, School of Music of the University of Michigan
  31. 1969-1973 Member, MENC Commission of Teacher Education (1970-1973 – Chairman, Task Group V)
  32. 1971-1979 Dean, School of Music of the University of Michigan
  33. 1971-1985 Board of directors, University Musical Society
  34. 1973-1997 Board of trustees, Interlochen Center for the Arts
  35. 1980-1981 Acting Dean, Manhattan School of Music
  36. 1980-1994 Member, Friends of the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments Board of Directors
  37. 1981-1982 Acting Dean, Peabody Conservatory of Music
  38. 1982-1985 Founding Editor, American Music
  39. 1982-1994 Member, University of Illinois School of Music Alumni Board
  40. 1984-2003 Dean and professor emeritus in the School of Music of the University of Michigan
  41. 1985-1989 President of the Sonneck Society for American Music
  42. 1986 Elected to the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) Hall of Fame
  43. 1988 Elected to the American Antiquarian Society
  44. 1990 Given Senior Researcher Award by the MENC
  45. 1990 Published American Sacred Music Imprints, 1698-1810, a Bibliography in collaboration with Richard Crawford and Irving Lowens
  46. 1991 Given Distinguished Service Citation by the Sonneck Society
  47. 1997 Trustee emeritus, Interlochen Center for the Arts
  48. 1997 School of Music named recital hall for Britton
  49. 2000 Engraved brick in the MENC "Walk of Fame"
  50. 2000 March 6, "The Historians Perspective: A Symposium in Tribute to Allen P. Britton", the University of Maryland, College Park, MD
  51. 2003 Died February 17, in DeKalb, Illinois at the age of 88.


This collection is organized into nine series.

  1. Correspondence
  2. Britton file
  3. Writings
  4. Professional activities and service organizations
  5. Music Educators National Conference
  6. Sonneck Society
  7. University of Michigan
  8. Datebooks
  9. Oversized items

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Gift of Allen P. Britton, 1992-1999

Related Material

The Allen Britton papers are part of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Historical Center, previously known as the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) Historical Center.

Allen Perdue Britton papers
Vin Novara, Laura Seelig, Monica Dyer, Jeni V. Dahmus, Liza F. Vick, Liviu Marinescu, Monica Howell, Jeanne Su and Tim McKay, and Nicole Horstman, 1992-2013
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