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Marcia Herndon papers

 Collection 0158-SCPA

Marcia Alice Herndon (1941-1997) was a musicologist, educator, and researcher. Throughout her career she served as a Professor of Musicology and Ethnomusicology at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Maryland. In addition to her professorship, she also authored and co-authored many notable publications, including Music as Culture (1979) with Norma McLeod. As a researcher, she specialized in ethnomusicology, Eastern Band Cherokee music and the traditions of people indigenous to North America, and the relationship between gender and musical performance. The Marcia Herndon papers consist of both professional and personal papers and covers the period from 1830 to 1995; the bulk of materials date from 1968 to 1994. Documents include professional and personal writings, books and publications, correspondence, translations and field notes, audio/visual materials, and memorabilia.


  • 1830-2013
  • Majority of material found within 1968-1994

Use and Access to Collection

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.

Duplication and Copyright Information

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.

To inquire about duplication of materials for research or for publication, please contact SCPA’s curator.


26.00 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Marcia Herndon papers cover the period from 1830 to 1995; the bulk of materials date from 1968 to 1994. The collection consists of both personal and professional papers, including published and unpublished writings by Herndon and others, correspondence, translations and field notes compiled by Herndon, audio and visual materials, and memorabilia, including awards and certificates. Materials in the collection are related primarily to Herndon’s work both as a music educator and researcher in the field of Ethnomusicology, as well as her work conducting research about the Cherokee nation. Also included are personal academic materials, as well as memoirs and journals detailing Herndon’s professional career and personal life and struggles with cancer.


Marcia Alice Herndon (1941-1997) was a musicologist, researcher, and educator who helped shape the field of ethnomusicology, especially in the areas of gender research and Native American studies.

Marcia Herndon was born in Canton, North Carolina, near the Cherokee community of her grandparents. After graduating with her Bachelor of Arts in 1962, and later a Master of Arts in German from Tulane University in 1964, she went on to receive her Ph.D. in Anthropology and Ethnomusicology from Tulane in 1971. From there, she taught at the University of Texas from 1971 to 1978, and then went on to the University of California, where she taught for seven years. In 1990 she joined the School of Music at the University of Maryland as a Professor of Music in the Division of Musicology and Ethnomusicology, while also serving as an affiliate of the Women's Studies Department.

Prior to joining the University of Maryland, Herndon helped to found the Music Research Institute in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1984, which focused on ethnomusicological research addressing issues such as censorship and the demise of American community orchestras. Over the years, her research was awarded grants from prestigious organizations such as the Guggenheim Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

In addition to her work as an educator, Marcia Herndon was also an authority of Eastern Band Cherokee music, and the performance traditions of indigenous peoples of North America, in addition to being a trained Cherokee healer. Her contributions to the field of Cherokee research include Native American Music (1980), and "The Cherokee Ballgame Cycle: An Ethnomusicologist's Viewpoint," (Ethnomusicology, 1971). Herndon also conducted extensive research on Maltese music, religion, and politics, and with the help of Norma McLeod published the work Music as Culture in 1979, and "Field Manual for Ethnomusicology" in 1983. Other notable collaborations include her work as a co-chair of the International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM) from 1987 until her death in 1997, as well as her work as the Metropolitan head bishop of the Ecumenical Catholic Church of America, and her dedication to the ordaining of gay and lesbian priests.

After a life-long struggle with lupus, Marcia Herndon was diagnosed with breast cancer and died on May 19, 1997. She was survived by her long-time companion, Billye Talmadge.


This collection is organized into ten series:

  1. Writings
  2. Books
  3. Publications
  4. Correspondence
  5. Translations
  6. Field Notes
  7. Professional Materials
  8. Personal
  9. Audio/Visual Materials
  10. Memorabilia

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The collection comprises multiple gifts of Billye Talmadge (Herndon’s executrix and long-time companion) that begin in October 2002 and concluded in April 2013.

Marcia Herndon papers
Nicole Horstman
June 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