John Cage scrapbooks
Scope and Contents
The John Cage Scrapbooks are comprised of 9 scrapbooks constructed by John Cage's mother, Lucretia Cage, spanning the years 1916-1954. The scrapbooks contain newspaper clippings, programs, ticket stubs, correspondence, and a few photographs. Mrs. Cage titled these scrapbooks with the titles listed here, with the exception of the "Cruise Scrapbook," which was untitled.
"John Cage: The Boy" begins with a writing sample by John Cage at age 4 1/2. Most of this scrapbook consists of photographs of John and family at an early age, and includes a Cage family genealogy with correspondence at the end.
The two "John Cage: Professor, Maestro, Percussionist, Composer" scrapbooks document Cage's early career from 1938-1942, including teaching positions at UCLA, the Cornish School, Mills College, and the School of Design in Chicago. Programs and reviews of performances by the Cage Percussion Players and of Cage's works for various dance groups and solo dancers, including collaborations with Merce Cunningham, are represented. Many clippings describe Cage's compositions for percussion and his work promoting percussion and non-traditional percussion instruments (such as beer bottles) in performance.
The five "John Cage: Composer" scrapbooks document Cage's work as a composer from 1942-1954. Vol. I includes documentation of a widely-reviewed Arts Club of Chicago percussion group performance in 1942, and focuses on percussion, dance accompaniment, and prepared piano works. Manuscripts of Cage's early piano pieces "Crete" and "Dad" are pasted in this volume. Vol. II sees Cage's career progressing, with panel and lecture appearances and Black Mountain College materials. Vol. III includes documentation of various awards and recognition Cage received, including election to the National Institute of Arts and Letters and a Guggenheim Foundation grant. Vols. IV and V continue to document Cage's career, including his residency at the University of Illinois, and the New York City premiere of 4'33".
The "Cruise Scrapbook," arranged chronologically in this collection in the middle of the "John Cage: Composer" volumes, documents Cage's voyage to Europe in 1949. The scrapbook primarily holds Cage's letters to his parents back home, but also includes tickets, clippings, materials from the trans-Atlantic voyages by ship, and some clippings of newspaper reviews by Cage of performances in Aix-en-Provence and Sicily. A 1951 award for Musical Score for the film The Work of Calder, an undated flyer for a Reed College dance recital by Merce Cunningham, accompanied by Cage, and an unidentified photograph are also found in this scrapbook.
Throughout the scrapbooks, materials mention performers such as Merce Cunningham, Bonnie Bird, Jean Erdman, Pearl Primus, Valerie Bettis, Robert Fizdale and Arthur Gold, Maro Ajemian, William Masselos, and David Tudor (Tudor featuring heavily in John Cage: Composer, Vol. IV). Newspaper clippings include Virgil Thomson's New York Herald Tribune columns, and reviews and articles from other publications, mostly from the New York area.
The scrapbooks are made from paper report covers and inserted blank paper, held together with metal prongs, with the exception of the "Cruise Scrapbook" which is a more traditional album-style scrapbook with a leather cover. Materials are affixed to the paper with glue or tape, and some have become detached from the paper.
- 1916 - 1954
Conditions Governing Access
Materials are currently available only in digitized form.
Language of Materials
The John Cage Scrapbooks are comprised of 9 scrapbooks constructed by John Cage's mother, Lucretia Cage, spanning the years 1916-1954. The scrapbooks contain newspaper clippings, programs, ticket stubs, correspondence, and a few photographs. They document Cage's early life, mostly in photographs, and his early to mid career.
The scrapbooks are arranged in chronological order.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Materials received from John Cage and the John Cage Trust in several donations during the 1970s-1990s.
- Guide to the John Cage scrapbooks
- Jill Waycie
- June 20, 2018
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Part of the Music Library Repository
Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Drive
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US