Emma Kelly collection

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Emma Kelly collection

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Emma Kelly:

A Register of Her Collection at Georgia State University Library

Georgia State University
Georgia State University
Special Collections and Archives
100 Decatur St., SE
Atlanta, GA 30303-3202
404-413-2880
Fax: 404-413-2881
archives@gsu.edu

2003



Profile Description

Creation: Finding aid created by Mary McMahon Dawson, 2003.
Language: English

Collection Summary

Repository: Georgia State University Library, Special Collections and Archives, Atlanta
Creator: Kelly, Emma (Emma Thompson), 1918-2001
Title: Emma Kelly collection
Dates: circa 1900-2001
Dates: [bulk 1980-1999]
Quantity: ca. 13 linear ft. in 9 manuscript boxes, 11 artifact boxes and 9 oversize folders
Abstract:Emma Kelly was a lifelong resident of Statesboro, Georgia. Having learned to play the piano at the age of six, she continued to perform for civic clubs and special events across the state for the rest of her life. The locally famous "Miss Emma" achieved world-renown when author John Berendt devoted an entire chapter to her in his novel, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The Emma Kelly collection includes documentary materials and artifacts relating to both her personal history and her professional career.
Identification: M183
LanguageEnglish.

Organization of the Collection

This collection is organized into seven series:
Series I. Personal history
Subseries A: Kelly family
Subseries B: Mercer family
Series II. Correspondence
Series III. Business records
Series IV. Performances and appearances
Subseries A: Performances
Subseries B: Clippings associated with the book, and movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Series V. Newspaper clippings
Series VI. Song lists and printed materials
Series VII. Audiovisual materials
Subseries A: Photographs and Photocopies
Subseries B: Videocassette Recordings
Subseries C: Sound Recordings
Oversize items and non-manuscript materials-including artifacts, sheet music, and audiovisual materials-have been separated from the rest of the collection. There are 9 oversize folders (O1-09) and 9 artifacts boxes (A1-A9) designated under their appropriate series. Twelve pieces of printed sheet music and one Hitmaker songbook have been separated and interfiled with the Sheet Music Collection.The audiovisual material (AV1) in series VII, including videotapes, cassette tapes, and compact discs have been housed with the audiovisual materials in the Popular Music Collection. The phonodiscs of both Emma Kelly and Johnny Mercer have been entered in the Popular Music sound database and are housed offsite. A list of those items can be found under Separated Materials. Photographs and photocopies are housed in the non-print collection.The collection had no apparent organization upon receipt and was placed in current order by Special Collections staff based upon content.

Scope and Content of the Collection

The Emma Kelly collection (M183) includes documentary materials and artifacts relating to both her personal history and her professional career. Often these two categories overlap; as Emma Kelly's career was imbued by her personality. Included in this collection are genealogical documents for the Thompson and Kelly families, family and professional correspondence, programs, performance ephemera, newspaper clippings, sheet music, song lists, honors and awards and audiovisual materials such as photographs, videocassettes and various music formats.


Biography of Emma Kelly

Emma Kelly was a lifelong resident of Statesboro, Georgia. Having learned to play the piano at the age of six, she continued to perform for civic clubs and special events across the state for the rest of her life. The locally famous "Miss Emma" achieved world-renown when author John Berendt devoted an entire chapter to her in his novel, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. (Berendt described her as "a teetotaling Baptist who would play cocktail lounges Saturday nights and Sunday school classes the next morning"). She later appeared, as herself, in the 1997 movie of the same name. The recipient of many awards and honors for her hundreds of performances, her final achievements were her 1998 induction into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and the subsequent award of an honorary doctorate degree from Georgia Southern University.

Born Emma Thompson on December 17, 1918, she was later married to George Ross Kelly for 47 years and had 10 children. After meeting the Savannah songwriter Johnny Mercer in 1970 and collaborating with him extensively until 1976, he officially recognized her prodigious memory for songs by dubbing her "The Lady of 6,000 Songs." In September of 1985 Emma opened her "Piano Lounge" on Bay Street in Savannah, with co-owner Joe Odom. Before closing her piano bar in 1990 Emma hosted an open party for her 70th birthday in 1988 and an honorary 80th birthday for Johnny Mercer in 1989. Emma Kelly passed away at the age of 82, on January 17, 2001.

Online Athens: "Emma Kelly: Entertainer," January 17, 2001


Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the Georgia State University Library online catalog (GIL). Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Kelly, Emma (Emma Thompson), 1918-2001
Berendt, John, 1939-
Mercer, Johnny, 1909-
Georgia Music Hall of Fame
Midnight in the garden of good and evil (Motion picture)
Popular music--Georgia
Savannah, GA--Popular music
Artifacts
Audio tapes
Clippings
Compact discs
Photographs
Scrap-books
Videotape recordings

Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

To quote in print, or otherwise reproduce in whole or in part in any publication, including on the Worldwide Web, any material from this collection, the researcher must obtain permission from (1) the owner of the physical property and (2) the holder of the copyright. Persons wishing to quote from this collection should consult the reference archivist to determine copyright holders for information in this collection. Reproduction of any item must contain the complete citation to the original. All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.


Administrative Information

Citation

[item], [folder title], [series title], Emma Kelly collection, M183, Popular Music Collection. Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA.

Aquisition Information

Paula Kelly Rogers, 2002.

Processing Information

Processed by Mary McMahon Dawson, 2003.


Related Material

Related materials in this repository: Johnny Mercer Papers (M001). Popular Music Collection, Special Collections Department, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA.

Johnny and Ginger Mercer Papers (M002). Popular Music Collection, Special Collections Department, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA.


Separated Material

Separated material: During processing, oversize items and non-manuscript materials-including artifacts, sheet music, and audiovisual materials were separated. See List of Separated Material following Detailed Description of the Collection.


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