The “History of the American Cantorate” is a research project that explores an ancient Jewish profession within the context of the American experience. Between 1984 and 1986, Wesleyan University professor Mark Slobin researched American cantors from the late seventeenth century to modernity. His research was published in a monograph titled Chosen Voices: The Story of the American Cantorate (University of Illinois Press, 1989) but the data was not available to the public. This rich and unique collection includes a wide variety of content types, from documents, sound recordings of cantors singing, images, reports, surveys, and over 100 oral histories. This research collection in Wesleyan’s WesScholar demonstrates the value of librarians working with faculty to ensure the stewardship of their research projects.
The American Cantorate Project benefits Wesleyan’s Music, Religious Studies, and American Studies Departments, as well as an off-campus partner, Hebrew Union College, who helped fund the project. It also provides a valuable and open resource for all scholars and the interested public to read and listen and learn.
The collection is well positioned for discoverability by a global audience in Wesleyan’s institutional repository, run by IR Manager Dan Schnaidt. There is even a link in the sidebar to Professor Slobin’s project blog, which contains links back to individual items in the collection (great for SEO!). Music Librarian Alec McLane secured supplemental funding and trained students to digitize and upload this varied material.