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CHAPTER 9

A FINAL HOME FOR THE COLLECTION

In chapter seven, it was noted in footnote number 71 that Miller had some concern about just where the collection would be permanently preserved. He had thought at the time (1927) that it would be placed in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, since dialog between the collector and the museum had begun in 1924. In a letter to Dr. C. G. Abbott, assistant secretary at the Smithsonian, Miller discusses final arrangements for his collection. 84 Abbott replied on May 16, 1924, that he was glad that the collection would be a part of the Museum.

Miller must have been pleased because there was a possibility that Miss Francis D. Densmore, a member of the museum staff and a fellow organologist, would be placed in charge of the flute collection.

After I was you I had a very pleasant conference with Mr. Walcott. He was altogether sympathetic with the idea of having the collection in the museum. In fact, he seemed to think that if it was my duty to place it there, and he expressed in a general way the idea that ample provision would be made for it and that he would be glad to consider it and especially the development of the musical collection as a whole in the designing and arranging of the new fine arts building. I am hoping that the development of the musical collection will result in your being placed in charge of it. 85

Apparently, however, the new fine arts building did not materialize, for on July 15, 1927, he wrote:

It has been and still is my wish that the collection of flutes shall ultimately find a suitable place in the National Museum in Washington. I have been hoping that there would be definite developments in regard to the new building for fine arts. 86

One year later, in September, 1928, he wrote:

I am rather anxious to have the final disposition of the instruments determined. I would like to see them settled in Washington, and I am about ready to deposit them in the Museum. The collection is now much too large for a private house. I do not see much prospect of completing arrangements with the Smithsonian until a new museum is erected. 87
If I present the instruments to a museum without any cost, I feel that they ought at least to be assured fine exhibition...The Library of Congress has been very much interested in the collection...and they have definitely stated that they would be glad to receive all of the collection and would provide exhibition cases for the instruments as well as the book. 88

In February of 1934, Miller again wrote to Miss Densmore.

The collection is so large that I have no place to keep it. The instruments are all packed away in trunks and I am seriously beginning to worry as to what will become of it. Unless I can have little time to put it in order and arrange it for exhibition I fear it will be destroyed or dispersed, and nothing at all will come of all of the trouble I have put into it. 89

Another letter, dated June 1, 1934, mentions a meeting Miller had with Dr. Putnam and Dr. Engle of The Library of Congress.

They made me a definite offer to take the entire flute collection - instruments, book, music parts, etc., and to give the collection a room in the Library of Congress. 90

Miller's will, which was dated June 23, 1939, states that the entire collection was to be given to The Library of Congress. This document also set forth certain conditions as to their exhibition and classification:

It is further requested that this collection of flutes and flute-like instruments shall be preserved and maintained intact in one group or collection, and it is requested that it not be divided nor dispersed, and specifically that this collection be not subdivided nor dispersed according to any system of classification which requires the exhibition of any part or parts of this collection in groupings with other musical instruments of the same or of unlike kinds....My wish is that the entire collection of flutes and flute-like instruments shall be preserved in one group, intact, so as to illustrate directly, the history, development and construction of this particular type of musical instrument. 91

The will also granted a sum of money to the Library of Congress so that the collection would be properly labelled, cataloged, repaired when necessaary, and for the addition of any new models of the flute that might illustrate new developments.

The collection itself is housed in one large area of the Library, and is available for study. Temperature and moisture in the air are carefully controlled so that the books and music, as well as the instruments, are preserved in the best climatically suited environment.

Mr. William Lichtenwanger, head of the Music Division Reference staff and co-author of the Checklist , is probably more familiar with the collection than any other person at the Library of Congress. The writer had the pleasure of spending several days at the Music Division recently and the assistance and courtesy shown by Mr. Lichtenwanger to the visitor is remembered with pleasure and gratitude.


Chapters 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 |
Abstract of Master's Report | List Of Figures | Appendix | Footnotes | Bibliography

Dayton C. Miller, His Life, Work, and Contributions | Dayton C. Miller Flute Collection Home