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Inventory of the Don Lee White Collection, 1772-2010, bulk 1980-2010
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  • Biographical/Historical note
  • Scope and Contents note
  • Arrangement note
  • Preferred Citation note
  • Publication Rights

  • Title: Don Lee White Collection, 1772-2010
    Contributing Institution: California State University, Dominguez Hills
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 35.0 boxes
    Date (bulk): Bulk, 1980-2010
    Date (inclusive): 1772-2010 inclusive, 1980-2010 bulk
    Abstract: This collection contains the papers, photographs, videos, and musical recordings related to organist, conductor, and musicologist Dr. Don Lee White. The collection documents African-American church music, church history, and the evolution of spiritual music in African-American churches. It also includes several compilations of hymns along with audio and video recordings of church and classical performances.
    creator: Lee, Don Lee, d.2010

    Biographical/Historical note

    Don Lee White was born in Los Angeles, CA, on October 25, 1926 and attended both Los Angeles City College and California State University, Los Angeles before earning his Master’s degree in Music in 1958 from the University of Southern California (USC) where he majored in Church Music. White completed some graduate work towards his doctorate in Musical Arts at both USC and Stanford University, and was given an honorary doctorate in 1984 by the University of Monrovia, West Africa. In his early career, White was a professor of music and the college organist at Prairie View A&M University in Texas for five years. Upon his return to Los Angeles he taught organ, piano, choral music, conducting and music appreciation at California State University, Los Angeles for 27 years. White also served as the organist and musical director of the Grant African Methodist Church, Los Angeles, for over 38 years. Under his leadership, the Grant A.M.E. adult choir achieved national recognition for their musical versatility. They performed throughout the United States and recorded several albums. In 1988, White took a leave of absence from Grant A.M.E. and organized the D.L.W. Community Chorale, whose purpose is to perform the extended compositions of African American composers. White was an active member in many music organizations, among them the National Association of Negro Musicians and the American Chorale Directors Association. In addition he was often requested to give lectures and workshops across the country. He passed away on September 16, 2010.

    Scope and Contents note

    The Don Lee White Collection (1772-2010) contains material and papers documenting White’s long career in African-American church music as both an organist and choir director. Most of the material revolves around his work with Los Angeles area churches, particularly his main church and choir at Grant A.M.E. Church. When possible, White’s original folder names have been retained. A good deal of the material is undated.
    The Personal series includes such items as his professional writings, his transcript from USC, military record, various awards and correspondence. In the Scrapbooks series there are two scrapbooks given to White that show his personal and professional life from those who knew him, as well as a scrapbook about the history of the D.L.W. Community Chorale. The next five series involve his research on various churches. (It begins with general information and papers regarding) the African Methodist Church as a whole (Churches—AME), then delves into his more intensive research on Historic Black Churches (Churches—Historic). This series starts with a focus on the 19th century, but later opens up to include the 18th century as well. The Churches—Los Angeles series is similar to the historic series, but focuses on the Los Angeles area. To support White’s studies on the churches there are two series of research material. The next series, Cultural Reference, is a small collection that focuses on African American history.
    The series entitled People contains White’s large collection of material regarding African American musicians and singers. Two highlights of this series include records and biographies of local Los Angeles musicians, as well as an annotated biography of African American composers and arrangers that he created in 1970.
    A large part of the collection consists of sheet music, ranging from handwritten pieces by White and others, to choral pieces, to compilation books featuring historic spirituals. The Music-Hymns series includes compilations of hymns as well as supporting material used in lectures about hymns. In addition there are a number of series to do with reference material that White collected over the years during his research. There are also several multimedia series that contain records, audiocassettes, CDs, Reel-to-Reel tapes, videotapes and DVDs. These contain performances of White’s various choirs as well as musical performances he admired. Additional smaller series include Organs, which contains information about various notable organs in churches as well as African-American organists; Photographs, which mostly consists of recent photos of church performances, but also has some from White’s early life; and Programs which contain various programs from performances both by White’s choirs and others. Lastly there is a small collection of 3x5 floppy disks that contain various documents White used to keep track of church information and choir members. The files from those disks were transferred to a CD for ease of use.

    Arrangement note

    Arranged in thirty-two series:
    1. Series I. Personal, 1946-2009
    2. Series II. Scrapbooks, 1926-2008
    3. Series III. Churches-AME, 1891-2010
    4. Series IV. Churches-Historic, 1772-1998
    5. Series V. Churches-Los Angeles, 1800-2010 Series VI. Churches-Los Angeles Research, 1922-2010
    6. Series VII. Churches-Historic Research, 1922-2010
    7. Series VIII. Cultural Research, 1922-2010
    8. Series IX. People, 1890-2010
    9. Series X. Photographs, 1924-2010
    10. Series XI. Programs Related to DLW, 1944-2010
    11. Series XII. Programs, 1944-2010
    12. Series XIII. Music, 1967-2010
    13. Series XIV. Music-Hymns, 1930-2006
    14. Series XV. Organs, 1900-2009
    15. Series XVI. Compositions for organ (including 2 by DLW), 1902-2009
    16. Series XVII. Compositions by DLW, 1972-2008
    17. Series XVIII. Sheet Music, 1882-2004
    18. Series XIX. Sheet Music-Compilations, 1882-2004
    19. Series XX. Reference-Education, 1912-2005
    20. Series XXI. Reference-Spirituals, c.1801-2010
    21. Series XXII. Reference-General Music/Church Music, c.1875-2007
    22. Series XXIII. Reference-Books & Journals, 1910-2007
    23. Series XXIV. Oversized Material, 1937-2009
    24. Series XXV. Multimedia-Records, 1954-1965
    25. Series XXVI. Multimedia-Videotapes, 1982-2003
    26. Series XXVII. Multimedia-Reel-to-Reel, 1974-1981
    27. Series XXVIII. Multimedia-Audiocassette, 1946-2004
    28. Series XXIX. Multimedia-8mm Video, 2004
    29. Series XXX. Multimedia-CD, c.1978-2012
    30. Series XXXI. Multimedia-DVD, 2007-2008
    31. Series XXXII. Floppy disks, 2004

    Preferred Citation note

    [Title of item], Don Lee White Collection, Courtesy of the Department of Archives and Special Collections. University Library. California State University, Dominguez Hills

    Publication Rights

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Archives and Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical materials and not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    La Brew, Arthur R.
    National Association of Negro Musicians (U.S.).
    Whalum, Wendell
    African American churches
    African Methodist Episcopal Church
    Choral music
    Church music