T. J. Anderson Papers, 1889 -- 2019


Title: T. J. Anderson Papers
Dates: 1889 -- 2019
Bulk Dates: 1980 -- 1989
Creator: Anderson, Thomas Jefferson (T.J.)
Call Number: MS006
Size: 86.8 Linear Feet, 77 boxes and 6 oversized folders, 2 Artifact(s), 1 Digital Object(s), 1 Web sites
Permanent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10427/14612
    Digital Collections and Archives, Tufts University


This collection consists of T. J. Anderson's handwritten and printed music scores, mostly handwritten research notes, and printed material from the 1960s to 2000. Also included is biographical material, CDs, audio cassettes, photographs, scrapbooks, clippings, awards, and a website. The primary focus of this collection is the handwritten music scores and the associated material used to help create and compose the music.


This collection is organized in eight series: Honors and memorabilia; Subject files; Compositions by T. J. Anderson; Compositions by other composers; Recordings by other composers; Additional accessions; Website; and 2019 accessions.


Biographical / Historical

Thomas Jefferson (T.J.) Anderson (1928- ) was born August 17, 1928 in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, and has worked as a composer, professor, and musician both nationally and internationally. He began teaching as a Professor of Music at Tufts in 1972 and also served as the Chairman of the Department of Music at Tufts from 1972-1980. In 1978 he became the Austin Fletcher Professor of Music and in 1990 became Austin Fletcher Professor of Music Emeritus at Tufts.

Anderson began experimenting with music at a young age. He was classically trained in piano and violin but quickly took up the saxophone, drums, bass, and trumpet in his teen years. At that time he started learning about jazz and its musical traditions. He began playing professionally at the age of fourteen. Anderson continued the dual training in classical and contemporary music while studying at West Virginia State College where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1950. Up until that time Anderson had primarily focused on musical performance. However, while in graduate school at Pennsylvania State he discovered his passion for composition and consequently received a PhD from the University of Iowa in music composition in 1958. His composition teachers include George Ceiga, Philip Bezanson, Richard Hervig, and Darius Milhaud.

Anderson taught at a number of colleges and universities including West Virginia State College (1955-56), Langston University (1958-63), Tennessee State University (1963-1969), and Morehouse College (1971-1972). After teaching at Tufts University from 1972-1990, he moved on to numerous composer-in-residence and visiting professor positions across the country. He has also performed, taught, and worked as a composer in Brazil, Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland and other countries around the world. He has been awarded fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Djerassi Foundation, the National Humanities Center (their first composer), and acted as scholar-in-residence at the Rockefeller Center for the Creative Arts, Bellagio, Italy, among others.

Anderson has written over 80 works which range from operas and symphonies to chamber and vocal music. He often draws inspiration from the life stories of enslaved persons, minstrels, abolitionists, and war veterans. His three operas include his first opera "Soldier Boy, Soldier," inspired by the Vietnam War's effect on the inner-city Black community, "Treemonisha," an orchestration of Scott Joplin's famous ragtime work, and "Walker" which is based on the life of David Walker, a formerly enslaved man living in Boston in the early 19th century. Additionally he has composed works for the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and for the cellist Yo Yo Ma.

TJ is a founder and the first president of the National Black Music Caucus, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2005), and he received awards from the National Association for the Study and Performance of African music, the Music South Corporation's award for outstanding accomplishments in music composition and overall contributions to African-American music, as well as several honorary degrees.

Access and Use

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research. This collection may require review before it is available for use. Please contact DCA for further details.

Use Restrictions

Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Please see "Reproductions and Use" on the Digital Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permission to publish. Any intellectual property rights that the donor possesses have not been transferred to Tufts University.

Preferred Citation

T. J. Anderson Papers, 1889 -- 2019. Tufts University. Digital Collections and Archives. Medford, MA.

Collection History

Processing Notes

This collection was processed by Lauren Miller, supervised by Susanne Belovari.

The first accession of this collection was worked on by Liz Chrastil in the fall 2005 and spring 2006. The material had no original order. At the time, the collection was divided into 4 series but final arrangement of material was not completed. The diary of T.J. Anderson's mother was returned to the family and a photocopy placed in the collection. In 2007, more material was accessioned. When processing the collection in the fall 2008 and Winter 2009 the Subject Files were left as previously arranged. The Personal series (no original order) was renamed Honors and Memorabilia and items from the new accession were interfiled alphabetically with already processed materials. Diplomas and photographs were removed from frames. When arranging titles for the Compositions by T. J. Anderson series, all titles starting with a numerical symbol, were placed at the beginning of the series in numerical order. Composition titles that began with a number spelled out were arranged alphabetically. Accompanying librettos and notes remain intellectually with the scores but were housed separately and cross-referenced. In a meeting, T. J. Anderson helped to identify handwritten scores. A separate series exists each for scores and recordings by other composers and musicians. Further accessions are expected. Personal material was returned to T. J. Anderson in spring 2009.

The 2019 accessions series was processed by Records and Accessioning Archivist, Jane Kelly, in March 2020.

In April 2021 this finding aid was reviewed for offensive description by Collections Management Archivist Adrienne Pruitt. Terms pertaining to slavery were updated according to P. Gabrielle Foreman, et al. "Writing about Slavery/Teaching About Slavery: This Might Help" community-sourced document, accessed December 15, 2020, https://docs.google.com/document/d/1A4TEdDgYslX-hlKezLodMIM71My3KTN0zxRv0IQTOQs/mobilebasic. The word "Black" was capitalized when used to refer to an identity or race.

This collection is partially processed.

Subjects and Genre Terms
Related Material
  • MS133 Donald Sur manuscripts. Digital Collections and Archives, Tufts University, Medford, MA.

Series Description

  1. Honors and memorabilia, 1889 -- 2007

    This series contains biographical materials, honors, awards, and posters collected by T. J. Anderson. Particularly important are materials honoring Anderson on his 50th and 60th birthdays. Because the material contains different formats and sizes, respective items were housed accordingly.

  2. Subject Files, 1961 -- 2003

    This series contains subject files that cover T. J. Anderson's teaching and compositions as well as official and personal correspondence. Most material dates from his tenure as professor in the music department at Tufts University. Composition related material includes contracts and performance related correspondence. Research notes documenting the creative side of composing are found in Series III. Scores found in correspondence folders in this series were removed and placed in Series III; a copy of the score was left in the original folder.

  3. Compositions by T.J. Anderson, 1956 -- 2004

    This series contains original scores and recordings by T.J. Anderson as well as associated material. A majority of the scores are handwritten manuscripts on paper or onion skin while the rest are printed copies. Some folders include scores and individual instruments parts. Secondary material consists of librettos, handwritten research notes, source material, and correspondence. The Digital Collections and Archives do not hold the copyright for any of T.J. Anderson's works.

  4. Compositions by other composers, 1955 -- 2004

    This series consists of printed music scores collected or given to T.J. Anderson by other composers. Many of these scores were composed in honor of T. J. Anderson's 60th birthday. T. J. Anderson does not own the copyright which continues to reside with the original composer

  5. Recordings by other composers, 1954 -- 2005

    This series consists of audio recordings collected or given to T.J. Anderson by other composers. Audio recordings include audiocassettes, compact disks, and 8 inch sound discs. T. J. Anderson does not own the copyright which continues to reside with the original composer/performer.

  6. Additional accessions, 1928 -- 2012

    This series comprises unprocessed accessions, including scores, composition files, programs, audiovisual materials, news clippings, awards, and administration, teaching, and personal files, circa 1928-2010.

    This series includes many printed scores as well as original manuscripts. Also included is a script for "The Reincarnated Beethoven" with composition notes. There are programs for Anderson's performances as well as performances by other musicians. Audiovisual materials include CD, audiocassette, and audio reel recordings. Of particular note are The HistoryMakers oral history interview (CD), 2012, and audio recordings (CD) from the world premiere performance of "Boogie Woogie Concertante" at Anderson's 75th birthday celebration with the Harvard University Wind Ensemble, December 6, 2003. This series also includes an audio reel recording of "Spirit Songs, Part II" performed at Oberlin College, 1981, and a VHS recording of "Slip Knot: An Opera in Two Acts," 2003.

    Awards include a Doctor of Fine Arts diploma from Northwestern University, 2002 (honorary degree); a Doctor of Music diploma from Bates College, 2005 (honorary degree) and photographs of commencement; a Doctor of Music diploma from Tufts University, 2007 (honorary degree); photographs of a Distinguished Alumni Award ceremony at University of Iowa, 2006; awards from the Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities, 1981, and College of the Holy Cross, 1983; and plaques awarded by West Virginia State College, 1984 and 1995.

    Also of interest are records related to the Afro-American Music Workshop and the production of the opera "Treemonisha" at Morehouse College, 1972, and an untitled manuscript for a book project with Leon Forrest, circa 1989.

    Personal files include weekly planners, 1970-1987; a journal, 1987; an album of letters, compositions, and photographs presented to T. J. Anderson on his 75th birthday, August 17, 2003; a drawing and poem presented to T. J. Anderson on his 75th birthday by his granddaughter Yasmine, August 17, 2003; "River to Cross" book of poetry by T. J. Anderson III, 2009; and "Poems by Anita T. Anderson."

  7. Website, 2012-2019

    Website crawled by DCA to document the presence of T. J. Anderson on the web. The website in this series is crawled on an annual basis.

  8. 2019 accessions, 2018 -- 2019

    This series contains a CD recording, a story by T. J. Anderson III, an article from "The Syncopated Times," and an award.