Author: eaberndtmorris (page 2 of 5)

Harvard Honors Jessye Norman

For this post we would like to celebrate honors received by Jessye Norman, who passed away in September 2019, starting with the honorary doctorate she received from Harvard in June, 1988. This was one of many honorary doctorates she received during her lifetime. At this time in Harvard-Radcliffe history, Radcliffe College was still awarding degrees to female students, as it was the female coordinate institution for the all-male Harvard College. Although an agreement was signed to combine admissions offices in 1977, a full absorption of Radcliffe College into Harvard University did not happen until 1999.

This photograph of Jessye Norman was taken during the convocation events.

Jessye Norman looking at the camera during convocation

Standing in the center of the following photograph is Oscar Arias Sánchez, President of Costa Rica, the recipient of the other honorary doctorate given that year.

Eight people psing for picture, including Jessye Norman

In 1997, Norman received the Radcliffe Medal, given annually to individuals whose lives and work have had a transformative impact on society. It was given to Norman at the Radcliffe Annual Alumnae Association Luncheon. An audiocassette of the luncheon is available by appointment only in the Schlesinger Library. Also bestowed the honor was musician Lena Horne, a recipient in 1987.  

Harvard wasn’t finished giving Norman awards. In 2016, she was awarded the W.E.B Dubois Medal honoring those who have made significant contributions to African and African American History and Culture. The award was presented at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research W.E.B. Du Bois Medal Ceremony at Harvard University, available on YouTube. As part of the ceremony, Ingrid Monson, Quincy Jones Professor of African-American Music at Harvard, read a passage about the power and necessity of music, from W.E.B. Du Bois “The Sorrow Songs” from his seminal work The Souls of Black Folk. Lana MC Lyte’ Moorer, an acclaimed female hip-hop musician, was also presented the award in the same year for her contribution to music.

These photos, along with photos of the luncheon, are held at the Radcliffe College Archives at the Schlesinger Library and are available upon request. Photographs used with permission from the Schlesinger Library.

Radcliffe Medal Recipients

Harvard Honorary Degree Recipients

W.E.B. Du Bois Medal Recipients

Happy Birthday, Clara!

September 13th was Clara Schumann’s 200th birthday. To pay homage to the composer and pianist we are highlighting a photograph we have in our collection. This photo is a carte-de-visite, a thin paper portrait mounted on a thicker paper board.

Carte-de-visite of Clara Schumann

Carte-de-visite of Clara Schumann, taken by Fritz Luckhardt.


The photographer was Fritz Luckhardt, an Austrian whose studio was at the Hotel National in Vienna, as indicated on the back of the photograph. His studio is discussed in detail in the book The Photographic Studios of Europe. Famous authors and musicians were his specialty, as demonstrated by the large number of cartes-de-visite from his studio found in libraries and archives. In 1870 he was awarded the Imperial Title of K.K. Photographer (K.K. stands for kaiserlich-königlich meaning imperial-royal), therefore this photograph was produced after that title was awarded.

Verso of the cartes-de-visite.

Verso of the carte-de-visite of Clara Schumann.

The name of the Munich photographer Ferd. Finsterlin is impressed on the lower left of the photograph. The relationship between the two photographers is unknown to us. It’s possible this carte-de-visite was collected by Ferdinand Finsterlin in a similar fashion to a calling card and he stamped his ownership on the item.

Thanks to Joanne Bloom, Photographic Resources Librarian at the Fine Arts Library, Harvard University, for assistance in researching this photograph.

Pritchard, H. Baden. The Photographic Studios of Europe. The Literature of Photography. New York: Arno Press, 1973.

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