Society of Peabody Alumni
Citation for the Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association Heritage Award
May 16, 2007
Elizabeth Schaaf, you were working as a secretary in the Director’s Office in 1982, when you discovered that there was a treasure of historical material in need of care and collating.
You approached the administration and urged them to do something with the records, and they asked you to figure out what would be best.
So you took it upon yourself to study with archivists at the Smithsonian, and the National Gallery of Art among other places, and set about securing grants to help establish Peabody’s archives.
You organized and catalogued, the Institute’s administrative, academic and musical records, now covering over 150 years.
You also carefully stored the personal papers of trustees, faculty and staff from the first year on to today.
Many of these people were connected with other Baltimore institutions, so their programs, recordings and other memorabilia document the larger musical scene in the region.
Thanks to your interest and skill, the archives now contain a complete history of music in the Baltimore area. You were able to add the records of the Lyric Theatre, the
Baltimore Opera Company, the complete papers of the Baltimore Symphony, the Morric A. Mechanic Theater, and many smaller organizations as well.
You also spent time documenting the classical musicians in the black community. In the late 1990’s you became the authority on the Colored Symphony Orchestra of the 1930’s and other organizations. Your efforts resulted in the acclaimed traveling and online exhibit, “The Storm Passes Over,” that chronicles the lives and struggles of some of Maryland’s finest African-American musicians, classical and jazz.
In addition to caring for Peabody’s history, you have worked actively to care for Peabody today. You have served on the Peabody Alumni Steering Committee for almost ten years, chaired many of its committees, served desserts to hundreds of students during the annual holiday parties, and interviewed numerous alumni in order to capture their memories of Peabody in an ongoing oral history project.
Elizabeth Schaaf, for contributing outstanding service over an extended period of time to the University I am pleased to present to you the Johns Hopkins University Heritage Award.