Benjamin F. Swalin and Maxine M. Swalin Papers, 1903-2006

Creator: Swalin, Benjamin F. (Benjamin Franklin), 1901-1989; Swalin, Maxine M. (Maxine McMahon)
Collection number: 4962
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Abstract: Benjamin F. Swalin (1901-1989) was conductor and director of the North Carolina Symphony, musician, composer, performer, author, teacher, and advocate for music in North Carolina. His wife, Maxine M. Swalin (1903-2009), also an accomplished musician, supported the work of the North Carolina Symphony as its executive assistant for many years. The collection contains biographical information, writings, correspondence, subject files, and photographs of Benjamin F. Swalin and Maxine M. Swalin. Materials document Benjamin F. Swalin’s life from childhood through his music studies, teaching career at the University of North Carolina, and his 33 years as conductor and director with the North Carolina Symphony. Published and unpublished writings include notes, poetry, musical scores, and materials relating to Benjamin F. Swalin’s Hard Circus Road (1987), a history of the North Carolina Symphony, and to Maxine M. Swalin’s An Ear to Myself (1996), a reminiscence of her childhood in Iowa and life with her husband and with the North Carolina Symphony. Correspondence chiefly concerns North Carolina Symphony operations and the Swalins’ social and professional relationships with acquaintances and advocates in the arts and legal communities. Subject files include materials relating to the Symphony, especially Benjamin Swalin’s forced retirement in 1971; a run of Symphony Stories that Adeline McCall wrote for the Symphony’s Children’s Concert Division, 1950-1973; items relating to music education and appreciation in North Carolina; and other materials. Photographs document the Swalins from early childhood to old age.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: Folders 16 – 18 contain various addresses and articles, some of which includes drafts of “Music in a Chaotic World,” which addresses racial conflict, war attitudes, and other social dilemmas in North Carolina.

Folders 248 – 249 contain  a summary of legislation efforts made by Benjamin F. Swalin, and  his discussion of the challenges surrounding the use of state busses during the 1960s to transport African American children to desegregated symphony concerts in areas of North Carolina where “mixed” audiences were not permitted; and drafts of his Jukebox bill.

Folder 371, entitled “American Black Music, includes notes and research gathered on African American art and music used in creating “Painted Music”, a performance by Maxine Swalin

Folder 376, “Black Art,” contains articles, picture postcards, and handwritten notes about African American art for “Painted Music”.