Howard Mayer Brown Microfilm

Portrait of Howard Mayer Brown by Jacqueline Morreau
Portrait of Howard Mayer Brown by Jacqueline Morreau

A University of Chicago professor and scholar of Renaissance music, Howard Mayer Brown (1930-1993) was also a great collector of librettos, musical instruments, and books on music. Brown donated his library and his papers to the Newberry.

In addition to collecting numerous liturgical books and opera librettos, Brown directed considerable resources to the microfilming of music. This collection of manuscripts and printed works in more than 1,000 microfilms covers the 13th through 19th centuries, with the bulk treating the Medieval, Renaissance, and early Baroque period (before 1700). It includes medieval chants, Renaissance lute tablature, Venetian madrigals, medieval French chansons, French Renaissance songs, 16th and 17th-century Italian madrigals, 18th-century opera librettos, copies of opera manuscripts, 15th-century missals, books of hours, graduals, and selected theatrical works.

The collection of Brown’s microfilm held at the Newberry is organized according to the microfilm listing Brown compiled and is not formally cataloged. Brown’s microfilm guide is available as a PDF file.  A print version of the guide is available in the checklist area of the 3rd floor. Entries vary in detail; some include RISM numbers which can be used to find a complete description of the work, other works are identified only by the library and shelf mark, and still others will require going to the microfilm reel for proper identification.

Call our reference desk at (312) 255-3506 with questions on our holdings, or contact a librarian with research questions.