Cynthia Adams Hoover
Diary Project Co-Editor-in-Chief

print this page

Cynthia Adams Hoover, Curator of Musical Instruments at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (1961–2004, Emeritus 2004–present), first saw the Diary at the Steinway & Sons factory in 1966 and has worked with the Diary, the Steinway family, and Steinway & Sons for over four decades. She recounts her experience in her essay "The Story of the William Steinway Diary Project."

When she and Edwin M. Good began the Diary Project in 1988, Good concentrated mostly on transcribing the text; Hoover oversaw the annotation process and reports, served as the Smithsonian presence, helped to arrange the gift of the Diary to the Smithsonian in 1996, and secured a major gift from the Target Corporation in 2007 to hire the critical assistance of a Managing Editor and a Project Coordinator. Information about 19th-century life through William’s diary entries coupled with the excellent annotations created by the volunteer researchers have enriched Hoover’s work in exhibitions and articles over the years. 

Hoover has been interested in the study of music and musical instruments in American life throughout her studies at Wellesley College (BA), Harvard University (MAT), Brandeis University (MFA), and her career at the Smithsonian. Her work has resulted in exhibitions and publications on such subjects as Music in Early Massachusetts, Nineteenth-Century American Ballroom Music, 1840-1860; Music Machines—American Style, and PIANO 300: Celebrating Three Hundred Years of People and Pianos. Hoover received a Guggenheim Fellowship to research the changing intersections of technology, culture, and commerce of the piano, work that resulted in the PIANO 300 exhibition and related programs in 2000–2001.

In addition to serving on several editorial boards (New Harvard Dictionary of Music, New Grove Dictionary of American Music, New World Records, Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society, Early Keyboard Journal, and American Music), Hoover was president (1989–1995) of CIMCIM, the International Committee of Museums and Collections of Musical Instruments of ICOM (International Council of Museums), founder and chair of the Smithsonian Forum of Material Culture (1988–1996), and served as an officer (or on the boards) of American Musical Instrument Society, Society for American Music, and the American Musicological Society. She also served several years on a Curatorial Council to advise on the creation of a new Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) which opened in Phoenix in April 2010.

Born and raised in western Nebraska, Hoover has been married since 1962 to Roland A. Hoover and is the mother of two daughters, Sarah and Emily, and grandmother of their three children.