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Archive News: Ann Schuursma

Oral History Interview

From the Winter, 1985 edition of the Ethnomusicology Newsletter:

Ann Schuursma, head of the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive, retired in December 1984 after more than 23 years of distinguished service to UCLA's Music Department and the professions of music and librarianship. She was married a year ago to Rolf Schuursma and left in January 1985 to live with her husband in Rotterdam, Holland. The UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive is, to many patrons, almost synonymous with Ann. Invited to become the first .. Ann left her post as Assistant Librarian at the UCLA College Library to establish the Ethnomusicology Archive in 1961. Thus, virtually her entire career as a librarian has been associated with UCLA and, in particular, the Music Department's Ethnomusicology Archive.

Born and raised in Southern California, Ann attended Pasadena City College, UCLA, and the University of Southern California. She received her Bachelor's in Music at UCLA and counts Mantle Hood among the professors who had the most influence on her undergraduate education. She then received her Master of Library Science degree from USC but returned to UCLA to take a position as Assistant Librarian in the College Library. This put her back in touch with Professor Hood who had recently founded the Institute of Ethnomusicology at UCLA. When the position of Archivist was formed, Ann was the logical choice. After several years in the Ethnomusicology Archive, she decided to further her education in her field of interest and received a C. Phil. in Ethnomusicology, specializing in the music of Eastern Europe.

Ann recalls that when she started the Ethnomusicology Archive she shared a single room with another member of Music Department staff. At that time the collection was comprised of only four cabinets: one for phonographic recordings and three for field tapes deposited by Mantle Hood, Robert Garfias, and Robert Brown. She then began to obtain materials for UCLA's "Kunst Collection" (see Newsletter I:2) and organized efforts to create the "Oriental Collection" (see Newsletter I:3). In addition, she was instrumental in bringing the McPhee Collection to UCLA and helped to catalog the field collection of many former UCLA graduates or professors such as Lois Anderson and Klaus Wachsmann, whose recordings are still housed in the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive. The materials, staff, and services of the Archive have grown steadily since 1961. The Archive staff now includes two full-time employees besides Ann and three to four student assistants. In 1982, the Archive moved from four small and scattered rooms in the basement of Schoenberg Hall to a new facility with twice the former floor space designed especially for the Archive on the first floor of the new annex.

In addition to her responsibilities as chief archivist in UCLA's Ethnomusicology Archive, Ann Schuursma has distinguished herself with several professional achievements. With a grant to visit the Archives of Traditional Music at Indiana University and the Library of Congress in 1962, she studied methods of catalogueing sound recordings and devised the practical system that is still in use at UCLA. The geographical location is used for the main entry of each recording with cross-references made for genres, titles, collectors, and instruments as added entries. In 1966, she visited European archives and published her account in a guide to European sound archives in 1968. In 1969 she traveled in the United States and Canada to review archives in these countries. The publication of her study (1971) is still available from the Society for Ethnomsuicology. She twice received Fulbright-Hays grants to travel to Romania and study the music there. She served two three-year terms as editor of the bulletin of the International Association of Sound Archives.

Most recently, Ann has steered the Archive toward the future by securing funding from the National Endowment of the Humanities to make Archive holdings available through nationwide online computer access (see Newsletter I:3). thus, the Archive is keeping pace with the most modern libraries in the country and Ann's legacy in UCLA's Ethnomusicology Archive is bound to remain evident for years to come.

The Ethnomusicology Archive owes a great deal to Ann Schuursma's knowledge and familiarity with ethnomusicological resources. Her demand for quality in collection acquisitions and development have made UCLA's Archive one of the most valuable in the country. Her standards and thoroughness in catalogueing sound materials have encouraged researchers, among them Willard Rhodes (see Newsletter II:1), to deposit their priceless collections in the Archive. Thanks to her constant attention to current needs, she has helped maintain an up-to-date archive which not only preserves the past but looks to the future for state-of-the-art technology to aid in this task.

Ann's knowledge and professional handling of the UCLA Archive have gained her the respect of her colleagues in the UCLA Library System and on the faculty in the Music Department. She has lent her expertise not only to the Archive and the Music Department, but virtually every professional organization in her fields and left her mark on all of them. But no statement of her accomplishments would be complete if it did not mention that Ann's openness and warmth have contributed to make the Ethnomusicology Archive a home away from home for many ethnomusicology students and a central meeting point for all concerned with ethnomusicology at UCLA. Her contribution to our Archive has been unique and substantial and she will be sorely missed by friends and colleagues in the University as she leaves for pleasure and personal pursuits in retirement in Holland.