Jane L. Berdes papers, 1525-1993

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This collection contains many photocopies and microfilm copies of items which belong to other libraries and archives. Photocopies of materials gathered from other repositories by Jane Berdes may...
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Berdes, Jane L., 1931-1993
79.5 Linear Feet
46,000 Items
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The Jane L. Berdes Collection (1525-1993) has as its focal points the four Venetian welfare institutions known as the Ospedali Grandi and their role as providers of musical training for girls and women. The inclusive dates for the collection begin with the dates of primary materials Berdes collected and extend through her lifetime. The collection consists primarily of Berdes's research notes and materials on the Ospedali Grandi, and photocopies or microfilms of primary sources, including musical scores in manuscript and printed editions. It also contains correspondence, photographs, recordings and printed materials. Berdes identified the maestri of the Ospedali Grandi, the music performed, and the names of over 800 women who were members of the cori , but relatively little is known about them individually with the exception of Maddalena Lombardini Sirmen. In addition, the collection features general materials pertaining to other women in music throughout history. The user is advised that some photocopies are unattributed and, where Berdes did not indicate composer or author, no attempt has been made to provide one. The archive contains very few of Berdes's personal papers.

The bulk of the collection is found in the Research Notes and Materials Series, which contains information gathered in preparation for her books on the Ospedali Grandi and Maddalena Lombardini Sirmen (MLS). The heart of this series is the Ospedali Grandi data designated as Raw Materials, which contains information culled from primary sources and arranged by subject. Most subseries provide documentation for Raw Materials, including copies of primary and secondary sources, pictures of instruments and iconography, and a bibliography. Similar materials pertaining to Sirmen are here also, as is general information about women in music.

The Music Series contains manuscripts and early printed editions of music performed at the Ospedali Grandi in the form of photocopies or microfilms (printed scores in modern edition are grouped with Printed Materials). There is particular emphasis on the compositions of Sirmen, including some recordings of her music. Works by Bertoni, Galuppi, Hasse, Jommelli, Vivaldi and others are grouped alphabetically by composer. The Correspondence Series contains both general professional correspondence and Thesis Correspondence, that is letters from other scholars, libraries, archives, museums, and churches in Italian, French and English concerning the Ospedali Grandi and Sirmen. The Miscellaneous Series includes Berdes's other publications on both musical and nonmusical subjects, music criticism, course notes from classes she taught or attended, and memorabilia from her years at Oxford University. A selection of pertinent reference books from Berdes's library is found in the Printed Material Series, as are some libretti, and musical scores by Vivaldi in modern edition.

The user is advised to consult Box #1 for an introduction to the contents of the collection. It contains a copy of Berdes's book Women Musicians in Venice: Musical Foundations, 1525-1855; two copies of her dissertation, entitled Musical Life at the Four Ospedali Grandi, 1525-1855; two binders described by the donor as the road map to the collection and a videotaped review of its contents prepared by Berdes.

Biographical / historical:
Date Event
1931, Sept. 13
Received B.A. in Journalism from Marquette University
Received grant from the National Music Critics Association
Received M.M. in Musicology from University of Maryland
Received an award from the National Endowment for the Humanities
Enrolled in Wolfson College, Oxford University
Received grants from the American Association of University Women and Wolfson College, Oxford University
Received PhD in Musicology from Oxford University
Honorary Fellow in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Women's Studies Program; Women's Studies Research Center
Instructor, Department of Music, Madison Area Technical College
Instructor, Outreach Program, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Published modern edition of Violin Concertos by Maddalena Laura Sirmen (1745-1818), Recent Researches in Music of the Classical Era, Vol. 38
Published Women Musicians of Venice: Musical Foundations, 1525-1855 (Oxford University Press)
1993, Aug. 31

Berdes was a member of the following professional organizations: American Association of University Professors; American Musicological Society; American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies; College Music Society; Royal Musical Association; British Scholars' Venetian Seminar; Early Music America; Music Critics Association; and British Society for Renaissance Studies.

Acquisition information:
The papers (1525-1993) of Dr. Jane L. Berdes (1931-1993) were donated to the Duke University. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library in 1993 by her husband, George Berdes.
Processing information:

Processed by Joy Calico

Completed July 13, 1994

Guide updated for 2005 gift addition by Alice Poffinberger, February 2014

Encoded by Stephen D. Miller and Alice Poffinberger

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


Using These Materials

Using These Materials Links:

Using These Materials


This collection contains many photocopies and microfilm copies of items which belong to other libraries and archives. Photocopies of materials gathered from other repositories by Jane Berdes may require permission of the owner institution to further reproduce or publish. Also, in the collection there are unmarked photocopies of materials from other repositories that Berdes made from microfilm (in the Music Series, Microfilm Subseries). Users making further copies for their own research do so at their own discretion. Before publication of any such materials, it is the researcher's responsibility to identify the original source and obtain permission.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

Terms of access:

Duke University claims no copyright interest in the contents of this collection. For further information, see the section on copyright in the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

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