Archiving Mormon composer Crawford Gates

Michael De Groote

Mormon Times | Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The disadvantages, from a technical archivist standpoint, are that materials keep coming in and require shifting contents in boxes and on shelves to make room. Of course, since the donor is alive, the archive is never finalized. Compromises also need to be made with the donor to meet their expectations.

\"I'd like to emphasize that all these disadvantages are really minor. These are small things that will be different depending on the donor and they can be worked around quite well,\" Whetten said.

One of the greatest advantages is the ability of the donor to identify items. One time Whetten had a piece of music, an \"interlude for orchestra,\" that had no opus number.

\"So I brought (it) to him and I still remember he just opened it up and said, 'Oh, this is opus 19 number 22. This is \"The Wind is the Lion\" for orchestra, which is part of \"Promised Valley,\"'\" Whetten said. \"And he said, 'No opus number. Shame on me!'\"

Whenever Whetten has an identification problem — such as identifying music in an audio reel-to-reel tape, Gates is there to ask — and he usually has a story to go along with the item that expands the archive's record.

Another advantage is that the archivist can interview the donor and create an oral history for the archive.

\"Not every donor is quite as giving as Crawford has been as far as personal history goes,\" Whetten said. \"But with Crawford it has been wonderful, a wonderful opportunity for us. . . . I quite honestly find the man very inspiring and just to be around him and to be able to work with him has been a very positive influence in my own life.\"

Gates' positive influence continues as he currently works on composition number 868.

Whetten happily waits to archive it — and anything else Gates finds in his garage.

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