The world’s greatest artists leave behind them legacies that we happily preserve in the Music Division’s archival collections. Scholars come to our reading room from all over the world to study creative process, be it the origin of a lyric in sketch material, a composer’s annotations in a publisher’s proof, or artistic collaborations via correspondence. But our archival collections can also reveal the personal side of these great personalities – they document favorite recipes, correspondence with loved ones, and, of course, they document the important role that their furry friends play in their lives! So we begin a new blog series featuring artists’ feline, canine and all other sorts of loyal companions. Today I offer three short examples, with a mental list of more in-depth stories to come!
John Philip Sousa, our revered American “March King,” began donating his music manuscripts to the Library of Congress in 1914. Over the years, Sousa family members and others have contributed additional Sousa-related materials to our collections, including photographs. The composer and bandleader certainly adored canine companions; one of his favorite sayings went, “A horse, a dog, a gun, a girl, and music on the side. That is my idea of heaven.” The Library’s Sousa photographs feature him visiting and posing with various dogs, from his neighbor’s dogs to a stranger’s pup in Bryant Park.
The Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog features this charming portrait of American soprano Geraldine Farrar posing with her Pekingese, Sniffles Tellegen (Farrar was married to actor Lou Tellegen from 1916-1923; the couple divorced after starring in three films together). And Sniffles was a film star in her own right! The Pekingese starred alongside Farrar in two 1919 films: Shadows and The World and its Women (check it out – Sniffles gets a cast mention on AFI’s record for Shadows in its catalog of feature films!).
Irving Berlin is remembered as one of America’s greatest songwriters, but he too made room for a pooch in his personal life. In fact, the Irving Berlin Collection features the American Kennel Club registration certificate for the Berlins’ black and tan Manchester Terrier. The certificate was processed in 1965 when Berlin would have been 77 years old, and the owner is actually listed as Ellin Berlin, the composer’s wife. No doubt Irving took in just as much joy from their added family member!
I have many more stories of pets as featured in our archival collections mentally stored and ready to write up, so look out for more charming tales of furry friends to come!