Music & Musical Instruments
The Museum's music collections contain more than 5,000 instruments of American and European heritage. These include a quartet of 18th-century Stradivari stringed instruments, Tito Puente's autographed timbales, and the Yellow Cloud guitar that belonged to Prince, to name only a few. Several of these rare instruments can be heard in performances of the Smithsonian Chamber Players and in other public programs. Music collections also include jukeboxes and synthesizers, square-dancing outfits and sheet music, archival materials, oral histories, and recordings of performances at the Museum. The vast Sam DeVincent Collection of Illustrated Sheet Music is a remarkable window into the American past in words, music, and visual imagery. The Duke Ellington and Ruth Ellington Boatwright collections contain handwritten music compositions, sound recordings, business records, and other materials documenting the career of this renowned musician.
"Music & Musical Instruments - Overview" showing 1 items.
- Description (Brief)
- This guitar was made by C.F. Martin Co. of Nazareth, Pennsylvania in 1950. It is a six course (6x1) guitar, Auditorium Orchestra model #000-18, serial #114993, with a natural spruce top, mahogany body, mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard and bridge, pearl position dots and white side dots, and nickel-plated tuning machines.
- The guitar was owned and used by Libba (Elizabeth) Cotton. Libba taught herself to play the banjo and the guitar as a child, holding the instruments upside down because she was left handed. “… I learned the banjo upside down because I couldn’t change them (the strings) because it belonged to my brother.” By the age of twelve she had composed “Freight Train.” At fifteen Libba was already married. Her religious convictions prompted her to abandon musical pursuits in favor of raising her family and serving God. Elizabeth Cotton moved to Washington, DC in the 1930s where she found employment in the home of the musical Seeger family. Hearing music around the house where she was working, Libba was encouraged to pursue a professional career in music that included recordings, concerts and national tours. In 1984 she was awarded the NEA National Heritage Fellowship, and in 1985 she received a Grammy Award for her album “Elizabeth Cotton Live.” Her syncopated, lyrical blues music continues to live through a wide range of performers who have been influenced by her work.
- Currently not on view
- date made
- Cotten, Elizabeth
- C. F. Martin and Company
- ID Number
- accession number
- catalog number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center