News & Events

Alice B. Kroeger Distinguished Lecture 2020: James Briggs Murray

On December 3rd, the Metadata Research Center will host an Alice B. Kroeger Distinguished Lecture, featuring James Briggs Murray, Founding Curator (1972-2009) of the Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division, Schomburg Research Center, at the New York Public Library.

James Briggs Murray

Presenter: James Briggs Murray, Founding Curator (1972-2009),
Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division, Schomburg Research Center, The New York Public Library
Title: Understanding and Developing Black Popular Music Collections
Date: Thursday, December 3rd
Time: 4:30-6:00pm EDT
Location: Zoom Registration Link
Participants must register in order to attend.

Abstract: The retired Founding Curator of the Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division of The New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture uses recorded audio clips to illustrate his three and a half-decade mission to create a comprehensive recorded music collection in a research library setting. The journey begins in West Africa and moves through such globally impactful genres as work songs, blues, spirituals, jazz (in its many iterations), gospel, rhythm & blues, rock & roll, rock, funk, disco, and rap.

James’ presentation harkens back to his 1983 Drexel Library Quarterly article on black music collections.

Citation: Murray, J. B. (1983). Understanding and Developing Black Popular Music Collections. Drexel library quarterly, 19(1), 4-54. 
*Also available in ERIC: ERIC Number EJ300012

Among the highlights of his career as a Curator, first and foremost, Mr. Murray, in the mid-1970s, conceived and founded the Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division of NYPL’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the world’s largest and most comprehensive research library devoted to the preservation of the history and culture of peoples of African descent worldwide.

The archive of motion picture film, television and radio broadcasts, recorded music in myriad genres, film soundtracks, theatrical cast recordings, spoken arts, etc., archived by Mr. Murray over nearly four decades, is unrivaled. But, not being content to document only the productions of others, James Briggs Murray pioneered in the field of oral history when, in 1980, he conceived and initiated the Schomburg Center’s Oral History/Video Documentation Program, the longest-running oral history program devoted to documenting the lives and achievements of peoples of African descent in the USA, capturing individual stories as well as public programs.

Beginning in 1991, Mr. Murray added to his portfolio of responsibilities the role of Theatre Director for the Schomburg Center’s $13,000,000.00, state-of-the-art, 340-seat, Seagrams-funded Langston Hughes Auditorium, directing administrative, production and technical operations for a variety of concerts, dance performances, screenings, lectures, academic forums, etc.

Concurrent with his work with NYPL, James Briggs Murray, for seventeen years, spent his weekday evenings as Production Manager and Production Supervisor for WOR-AM Radio, also serving periodically as producer for such New York talk radio luminaries as longtime morning drive-time leader, John A. Gambling, nutritionist Dr. Carlton Fredericks, psychologist, Dr. Judith Kuriansky, and others.

Prior to these professional activities, James Briggs Murray served for four years in the United States Air Force, attaining the rank of Staff Sergeant in just over three years, and being decorated with the Air Force Commendation Medal in 1969 for developing an innovative shipping plan allowing the Air Force to circumvent a simultaneous trucking strike in Istanbul, Turkey and a dock strike at east coast ports in the USA.

James Briggs Murray launched his most recent career (as a SAG-AFTRA voiceover artist) in June 2009, having retired from a forty-year career with The New York Public Library (NYPL). Currently James Briggs Murray is a SAG-AFTRA professional voiceover artist, creating radio commercials, theatrical dramatizations, documentary narrations, etc. with his bass/baritone vocal stylings, both in the USA and in the Caribbean. He continues to publish and lecture on a variety of topics of culture and history in a continuing effort to promote education and understanding among peoples of varying cultural backgrounds. He is also a bass/baritone balladeer and holds a lifetime radio and television engineering license from the Federal Communications Commission.

About the Alice B. Kroeger Distinguished Lecture Series: Alice B. Kroeger (May 2, 1864 – October 31, 1909) was an American librarian and educator. She was a student of Melvil Dewey’s at the New York State Library School at Albany. Dewey recommended her to establish the library science program at Drexel University. Kroeger founded Drexel University’s library science program in 1892 and directed the program until her death in 1909.