Member Spotlights

Member Spotlights is a weekly post that highlights the interesting work being done by our current members. To participate, send a quick paragraph about one of your current projects–bonus points if you include a fun picture–to webmaster Jess Grimmer at

Christina Taylor Gibson

Right now I’m spending most of my non-work time on a heavily annotated digital edition of Chapter 13 of Mabel Dodge Luhan’s Whirling Around Mexico for Scholarly Editing. Whirling Around Mexico is an unpublished memoir of Luhan’s visit to Mexico in 1930/1931, and Chapter 13 describes a dinner party she hosted at the famous San Angel Inn. To construct the digital edition I’m creating a database of the people mentioned in the MS and coding the edition using TEI. Eventually readers will be able to access the social network analysis found in the database as they read the edition. In this way non-specialist readers will be able to access the manuscript with built-in tools to understand how Luhan’s leveraged her social network to shape the direction of transnational modernism. It is really exciting work because not only does it illustrate the potential digital tools have to engage with primary sources, but because Luhan is currently having a bit of a moment, and an edition like this will allow more people to contextualize her power and influence. 


Stephanie Akau

I’m processing the papers of American soprano Jessye Norman (1945-2019) when I am onsite three days a week as an Archivist at the Library of Congress Music Division. Norman maintained an active performing career and was a generous philanthropist. In addition to music, there is ample correspondence from her assistants and business managers who arranged her performance schedule, photographs, awards, even some party swag from Queen Elizabeth’s 60th birthday, and a picture of Norman with the royal family. I also convinced my fantastic processing team to try out Norman’s cake recipe, which you can read about in our blog post ( Processing favorite musicians’ collections is a perfect excuse to stream their recordings, and I have been listening to Norman sing everything from Gluck, to Mahler, to spirituals. In my photo you can see my makeshift home office, where I work at my dining table alongside my bonsai plants. 


Lisa Shiota

A side project that I have been working on has been a database of works by women and gender-marginalized composers for the non-profit organization, Boulanger Initiative. Over the course of this past year, Jessica and a group of interns have been (remotely!) assisting me in doing research on women composers’ works and compiling the data on Airtable. This project has put my metadata skills to use in determining what data would be most helpful for musicians to find pieces to perform. The photo shows a small sample of composers represented. We hope to have this database ready and available to the public within the next year or two. For now, it’s been a valuable resource for the Boulanger Initiative staff– and it’s still growing!


Jessica Grimmer

Hi everyone! I’m Jess, your new webmaster, and I’m happy to kick off the Spotlight Saturday series.

I’m nearing the end of my MLIS at the University of Maryland. I came to the program having fallen in love with working with primary source documents through musicological research. Currently, I’m doing my field study work at the Library of Congress, where I’ve been processing the AV series of the Jessye Norman collection. It’s a great record of her recital and opera work–lots of Strauss, Wagner, and Poulenc–with a few surprises, like the videos on her collaboration with choreographer Bill T. Jones.

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