Mildred Dilling papers

Mildred Dilling papers

Dates: 1914-1982

This collection contains press clippings, concert programs, and articles collected by Mildred Dilling dating from 1914 to 1982. Materials also include photographs of Mildred. There are notebooks filled with anecdotes and short stories with many writings by her as well. A majority of the materials are harp related. Also contains various papers collected by Mildred Dilling. Includes letters to and from other harpists and holiday greetings. Photographs include promotional photos of Mildred, her travels, and some of Charlene Dilling. Additionally includes notebooks containing ancedotes and short stories written by Mildred Dilling, address books, and Mildred's wedding book.

  • Extent: 2 cartons (2 linear ft.). -- 30 boxes (15 linear ft.)
  • Creator: Dilling, Mildred
  • Call Number: MSS 7775
  • Repository: L. Tom Perry Special Collections; Music Special Collections; 1130 Harold B. Lee Library; Brigham Young University; Provo, Utah 84606;
  • Access Restrictions: Open to public research.
Languages and Scripts
Materials are in English.
The collection contains two series: I. Mildred Dilling press clippings and articles, 1941-1981. II. Mildred Dilling concert papers, circa 1920-1980. The original order of the collection has been retained. Items are housed in archival boxes, but series are spread throughout the collection. While a majority of the collection fits into either of the two series, there are some loose papers that do not belong in either.
Conditions of Use
It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from the Mildred Dilling papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.
Preferred Citation
Initial citation: MSS 7775; Mildred Dilling papers; International Harp Archives; L. Tom Perry Special Collections; Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University. Following citations: MSS 7775, LTPSC.
Custodial History
Donated by the American Harp Society in 2000.
Acquisition Information
Donated; American Harp Society; April 2000.
Subject Terms
Dilling, Mildred; Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Music
Genre / Form
Articles; Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.); Letters; Photographs; Programs
Processing Information
Processed; Lynzi Phillips; 2011.
Appraisal Information
Prominent Harpists, (Section IV.a.i. International Harp Collection Development Policy January 2011).
Finding Aid ID Number
Finding Aid Title
Dilling (Mildred) papers
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Lynzi Phillips
Finding Aid Creator
This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2011-11-29T13:55-0700
Finding Aid Language
Biographical Info:

Biographical History

Mildred Dilling (1894-1982) was a prominent harpist who studied under Henriette ReniƩ. She collected various instruments and by the end of her life had obtained over 120.

Mildred Dilling was born on February 23, 1894, in Marion, Indiana. From a young age, Mildred knew she wanted to play the harp. Unfortunately for her, there was no harp teacher in Marion. So at age six, she began to take piano lessons at the Marion Conservatory of Music. When she was eleven, her family moved to Indianapolis for her father's business. Her parents arranged for her to have harp lessons from Louise Schellschmidt, and one year later, Mildred was given her first harp. It had previously belonged to General Evangeline Booth, of the Salvation Army. She later went on to study under Henriette ReniƩ before performing for many occasions.

On her first tour of the country, Mildred gave over 85 concerts and while in the height of her career traveled approximately 30,000 miles each year. She visited over seventy-five different cities in the United States and had the opportunity to play for five different presidents. Mildred had a passion for the instrument itself and was fascinated with how widely the harp varies in terms of style, sound, and appearance. Because of this, she traveled with seven different harps. Yet another one of her accomplishments was her own CBS radio show where she played harp solos each week.

In 1943, she married Clinton Parker and lived happily until his premature death five years later. To cope with his passing, she decided that work was the best therapy. She became a soloist in the Bergen Symphony Orchestra, the oldest in the world.

One of her most widely known accomplishments was co-founding the American Harp Society. In 1981, she presented the Celtic Single Action Harp, Dilling Model. This new harp had seven levers on top of the harp, acting in the place of pedals. Each lever controlled one note in every octave and either hand could be used to activate them. She also taught lessons and held numerous masterclasses in countries all over the world. Some of her students included "Harpo" Marx, Deanna Durbin, Laurence Olivier, Bob Hope, and even the Crown Princess of Michiko Japan. She became the world's foremost collector of harps. Since then, she had acquired over 120 different instruments. Some of these included rare harps from Burma and Ireland, and the harp that had belonged to Queen Marie Antoinette. She died in 1982 at age eighty-eight.

comments powered by Disqus

Site Navigation

Search this Collection

Collection Arrangement

Yellow highlight indicates current location in collection description

Series I in MSS 7775

Print View

Help with this Collection

Ask us a Question

David Day
Curator - Music Special Collections