Skip to main content

Maud Cuney Hare papers

 Collection — Box: 1-9
Identifier: 0000-0000-0000-0041

Scope and contents

This is a small but notable collection that sheds light on the interests and achievements of an African American woman of rare musical and literary talent, Maud Cuney Hare. Her collection of songs include melodies and creole music originating from such places as Mexico, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Cuba. The music manuscripts, with beautiful lithographic drawings, date back as far as 1843. Also of interest are the programs to Cuney Hare's music and costume recitals and music talks. In these, Cuney Hare, a pianist, often was the accompanist to baritone William Richardson, a man she would later dedicate her book to, entitled Negro Musicians and Their Music.

Detailed study of Maud Cuney Hare and some of the strivings of African American musicians of the early twentieth-century America might begin with research in the collection. The Maud Cuney Hare Collection consists of printed and handwritten music manuscripts, photographs, and newspaper clippings, the highlights of which include original compositions that Cuney Hare herself arranged. Also filed in the collection are compositions by Eubie Blake, H.T. Burleigh, W.C. Handy, S. Cooleridge-Taylor, and a significant amount of Negro Spirituals and minstrel songs.

(Harold Pinkett, Appraisal Report of Some Major Groups of Archival, Manuscript, and Printed Materials at the Atlanta University Center, [1993], p.14).


  • Creation: 1843-1936


Biographical note

Maud Cuney Hare, (1874 - 1936), a concert pianist and folklorist, was born in Galveston, Texas to Norris Wright Cuney and Adelina (Dowdy) Cuney. The Cuney's were a cultured family. The mother had a fine soprano voice and publicly sang and played the piano. The father, aside from being a well-known figure in Texas political affairs, enjoyed old Irish songs and melodies from Italian opera. He also enjoyed Byron and Shakespeare. Maud Cuney Hare later eulogized her father in a biography, Norris Wright Cuney: A Tribune of the Black People (1913).

Young Cuney Hare's musical instruction began first at the New England Conservatory of Music, where, despite being subjected to the school's discriminatory practices, she managed to remain. Upon completion of her studies, Cuney Hare returned to Texas to become Director of Music at the Texas Deaf, Dumb and Blind Institute in Austin, Texas for two years. She subsequently joined the faculty of Prairie View State Normal and Industrial College for African Americans in Prairie View, Texas. In 1906, she returned to Boston where she married William P. Hare.

In 1927, Cuney Hare founded and directed the Allied Arts Center, a cultural center with the purpose of "discovering and encouraging musical, literary, and dramatic talent, and to arouse interest in the artistic capabilities of the African American child. It lasted for several years, presenting romantic and historical plays, including one for which Cuney Hare wrote the music, "Antar, Negro Poet of Arabia."

Cuney Hare also went on to compile other literary works. Among them were plays, and poems in the anthology, The Message of the Trees, with an introduction by William S. Braithwaite. She also edited the music column in Crisis magazine and contributed articles to such publications as Musical America, Musical Quarterly and the Christian Science Monitor.

The Cuney Hare Collection is a reflection of her interest in collecting songs from far off beaten paths of Mexico, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Cuba. She was the first to bring to the attention of the concert public New Orleans Creole music. Following her travels and research of folk material, Cuney Hare wrote the manuscript for her book,Negro Musicians and Their Music, which she completed shortly before her death. The book is about African music from its earliest traces, African influences in America, folk songs, and the African American idiom. There are chapters that reveal the contributions of little-known African American musicians of the likes of violinist George Bridgetower who was the first interpreter of Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata. Cuney Hare herself paired with baritone William H. Richardson in several lecture-recitals on folk songs of Afican Americans. The musical pairing of Cuney Hare and Richardson "was so satisfying Cuney Hare dedicated Negro Musicians and Their Music to Richardson 'In Remembrance of Twenty Happy Years of Musical Partnership.'"

(Jessie Carney Smith, Notable Black American Women, Detroit: Gale Research, Inc. [1992], p.243-245).


3 Linear feet

Language of Materials


Permission to publish

The Archives Research Center of the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library does not own the copyright for the manuscript or printed items in the Maud Cuney Hare Collection. It is the responsibility of an author to secure permission for publication from the holder of such rights for materials in this collection. No part of this finding aid may be reproduced without the written permission of the Archives Research Center of the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library.

Maud Cuney Hare papers, 1943-1936
June 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc. Repository


404-978-2109 (Fax)