National Negro Opera Company collection, 1931-1989 (bulk 1941-1962).


National Negro Opera Company collection, 1931-1989 (bulk 1941-1962).

The collection consists of materials amassed by Mary Cardwell Dawson and others. Included are business and personal correspondence, programs and promotional materials, photographs, business and financial papers, address lists, and some music, script fragments, and synopses. Of note is the correspondence with Clarence Cameron White, composer of Ouanga, an opera that the company performed in 1956 at the Metropolitan Opera House and Carnegie Hall. Included are the papers of Walter M. Dawson, Mrs. Dawsons's husband, an electrician with the General Services Administration, who supported the National Negro Opera Company financially and played an instrumental role in opposing discrimination in the government and electricians' unions. Assorted documents related to the career of company soprano La Julia Rhea were added to the collection by her son, Henry James in 1989. Company costumes are stored at the Library of Congress Landover facility.

67 boxes, circa 5,000 items.


SNAC Resource ID: 8076557

Library of Congress

Related Entities

There are 6 Entities related to this resource.

White, Clarence Cameron (person)

Composer, violinist, educator, and author. Major participant in the Harlem Renaissance. From the description of Clarence Cameron White collection, 1872-1965 (bulk, 1930-1960). (Moorland-Spingarn Resource Center). WorldCat record id: 739116553 Composer, violinist, educator. White and John Frederick Matheus collaborated on "Ouanga" (1932) and "Tambour" (1929). From the description of Clarence Cameron White papers (Additions), 1906-1963. (New York Public Library). W...

Rhea, La Julia (person)

National Negro Opera Company (U.S.) (corporateBody)

The National Negro Opera Company was managed and directed by its founder, Mary Cardwell Dawson (1894-1962). The company was founded in 1941. In the late 1940s, Mrs. Dawson moved to Washington, D.C., which then became the center of company activities. There were active chapters in Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Pittsburgh, and Red Bank, New Jersey. In 1950, the National Negro Opera Foundation was incorporated to help raise funds to sustain the company. The company ceased operations with...

Dawson, Walter M. (person)

Dawson, Mary Cardwell, 1894-1962 (person)

Opera director, concert singer, teacher, conductor and impresario, Dawson was the founder, president and general manager of the National Negro Opera Company. Formed in 1941 due to Dawson's concern regarding the lack of opportunity for Afro-Americans in opera because of racial discrimination, for over 20 years the Company presented such productions as Verdi's Aida and La Traviata, and C.C. White's Ouanga. Among the featured opera singers were Minto Cato, Lillian Evanti, Muriel Rahn, Edward Boatne...

National Negro Opera Foundation (U.S.) (corporateBody)