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Emma Kelly collection

 Collection
Identifier: M183

Scope and Content of the Collection

The Emma Kelly collection (M183) includes documentary materials and artifacts relating to both her personal history and her professional career. Often these two categories overlap; as Emma Kelly's career was imbued by her personality. Included in this collection are genealogical documents for the Thompson and Kelly families, family and professional correspondence, programs, performance ephemera, newspaper clippings, sheet music, song lists, honors and awards and audiovisual materials such as photographs, videocassettes and various music formats.

Dates

  • circa 1900-2001
  • Majority of material found within 1980 - 1999

Creator

Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

To quote in print, or otherwise reproduce in whole or in part in any publication, including on the Worldwide Web, any material from this collection, the researcher must obtain permission from (1) the owner of the physical property and (2) the holder of the copyright. Persons wishing to quote from this collection should consult the reference archivist to determine copyright holders for information in this collection. Reproduction of any item must contain the complete citation to the original. All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

Biography of Emma Kelly

Emma Kelly was a lifelong resident of Statesboro, Georgia. Having learned to play the piano at the age of six, she continued to perform for civic clubs and special events across the state for the rest of her life. The locally famous "Miss Emma" achieved world-renown when author John Berendt devoted an entire chapter to her in his novel, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. (Berendt described her as "a teetotaling Baptist who would play cocktail lounges Saturday nights and Sunday school classes the next morning"). She later appeared, as herself, in the 1997 movie of the same name. The recipient of many awards and honors for her hundreds of performances, her final achievements were her 1998 induction into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and the subsequent award of an honorary doctorate degree from Georgia Southern University.

Born Emma Thompson on December 17, 1918, she was later married to George Ross Kelly for 47 years and had 10 children. After meeting the Savannah songwriter Johnny Mercer in 1970 and collaborating with him extensively until 1976, he officially recognized her prodigious memory for songs by dubbing her "The Lady of 6,000 Songs." In September of 1985 Emma opened her "Piano Lounge" on Bay Street in Savannah, with co-owner Joe Odom. Before closing her piano bar in 1990 Emma hosted an open party for her 70th birthday in 1988 and an honorary 80th birthday for Johnny Mercer in 1989. Emma Kelly passed away at the age of 82, on January 17, 2001.

Extent

13 Linear Feet (in 20 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract:

Emma Kelly was a lifelong resident of Statesboro, Georgia. Having learned to play the piano at the age of six, she continued to perform for civic clubs and special events across the state for the rest of her life. The locally famous "Miss Emma" achieved world-renown when author John Berendt devoted an entire chapter to her in his novel, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The Emma Kelly collection includes documentary materials and artifacts relating to both her personal history and her professional career.

Aquisition Information

Donated by Paula Kelly Rogers, 2002.

Related Archival Materials

Related Materials in This Repository

  1. Johnny Mercer papers, 1885-1981 (M001)
  2. Johnny and Ginger Mercer papers, 1925-circa 1992 (M002)
  3. Johnny Mercer Oral History Project, 1970, 1995-1998, 2001-2002

Separated Materials:

During processing various materials were separated to other Popular Music and Culture Music Collections. For sound recordings, see catalog for access. Consult the University Library's online catalog or contact Special Collections for access to sheet music.

Popular Music Sound Recordings Collection

  1. G.I. Jive/ Write Myself A Letter; Mercer, Johnny; Capitol Records, undated, M2001-11/537 [78 Shellac Phonodisc]
  2. Candy/I'm Gonna See My Baby; Mercer, Johnny; Capitol Records, undated, M2001-11/536 [78 Shellac Phonodisc]
  3. Conversation While Dancing/On The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe; Mercer, Johnny; Capitol Records, undated, M2001-11/535 [78 Shellac Phonodisc]
  4. Emma; Kelly, Emma, undated, M2001-11/534 [LP Phonodisc]
  5. Emma; Kelly, Emma, undated, M2001-11/533 [LP Phonodisc]
  6. The Uncollected Johnny Mercer; Mercer, Johnny; Hindsight Records, 1980 , M2001-11/532 [LP Phonodisc]
  7. G.I. Jive/ Write Myself A Letter; Mercer, Johnny; Capitol Records, undated, M2001-11/537 [78 Shellac Phonodisc]
  8. Candy/I'm Gonna See My Baby; Mercer, Johnny; Capitol Records, undated, M2001-11/536 [78 Shellac Phonodisc]
  9. Conversation While Dancing/On The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe; Mercer, Johnny; Capitol Records, undated, M2001-11/535 [78 Shellac Phonodisc]
  10. Emma; Kelly, Emma, undated, M2001-11/534 [LP Phonodisc]
  11. Emma; Kelly, Emma, undated, M2001-11/533 [LP Phonodisc]
  12. The Uncollected Johnny Mercer; Mercer, Johnny; Hindsight Records, 1980 , M2001-11/532 [LP Phonodisc]

Popular Music Sheet Music Collection

  1. Twelve pieces of printed sheet music and one Hitmaker songbook

Bibliography

For more information on Emma Kelly:
  • Online Athens: "Emma Kelly: Entertainer," January 17, 2001

Processing Information

Processed by Mary McMahon Dawson at the file level, 2003. The collection had no apparent organization upon receipt and was placed in current order by Special Collections staff based upon content. Oversize items and non-manuscript materials-including artifacts, sheet music, and audiovisual materials-have been arranged separately within the collection. There are 9 oversize folders (O1-09) and 9 artifacts boxes (A1-A9) designated under their appropriate series.
Title
Emma Kelly:
Subtitle
A Register of Her Collection at Georgia State University Library
Status
Completed
Author
Mary McMahon Dawson
Date
2003
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 2006: EAD edited by Amanda Brown.
  • 2007: EAD edited by William Hardesty.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Contact:
100 Decatur St., S.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
404-413-2880
404-413-2881 (Fax)