Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Major/Program

History

First Advisor's Name

Kirsten Wood

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Alexandra Cornelius

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Daniel Royles

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Nelson Varas-Diaz

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Keywords

race, music, American Federation of Musicians, African American, integration, segregation, urban renewal, Pittsburgh, music, musicians

Date of Defense

10-30-2019

Abstract

This dissertation explores Pittsburgh’s Locals 60, 471, and 60-471 of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) from the late nineteenth century to the mid-1960s. Local 60 was founded in 1896 for white musicians and Local 471 in 1908 for black musicians. While other studies of the AFM take a “top-down” approach, this study examines these Locals from the “bottom-up.” In doing so, it re-examines the causal relationship between music/musicians and the social, political, and economic conditions intersecting with them. This dissertation is built upon seventy-two interviews conducted between former Local 471 members in the 1990s, photographs from Teenie Harris Collection at the Carnegie Museum of Art, clippings from local newspapers such as the Pittsburgh Courier, and photographs and documents of the city of Pittsburgh.

Black musicians of Local 471 were constantly subjected to prejudice and discrimination from the AFM, white leaders of Local 60, city planners, and the general public. In effect, black musicians were systematically barred from the most lucrative jobs in Pittsburgh. This was largely the case until 1933, when Local 471 musicians founded their own clubhouse, the Musicians’ Clubhouse. Located at 1213 Wylie Avenue in the heart of Pittsburgh’s Hill District, the Musicians’ Clubhouse provided Pittsburgh’s black musicians with a steady source of jobs, a chance to network and interact with nationally recognized musicians, and an open space for black musicians to practice their craft and experiment with music. The Musicians’ Clubhouse stood until 1954, when city planners decimated Pittsburgh’s Hill District in its urban renewal campaign. Despite its promises of new and better housing for African Americans, urban renewal fractured the black community. It left many black families without housing and ruined black businesses. As black businesses dried up, black musicians increasingly lost jobs. Local 471 musicians moved its headquarters multiple times over the next decade and its membership steadily declined. In 1966, the AFM forced Locals 60 and 471 to merge following the Civil Rights Act, despite Local 471’s opposition. But for a brief temporary period from 1966-1970 which black musicians negotiated during the merge, integration stripped black musicians of representation within the AFM.

Identifier

FIDC007845

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