Mission and History

About Berklee Archives

The mission of Berklee Archives is to ensure that robust documentation of Berklee is preserved and made available to the Berklee community and to researchers at large. Given Berklee’s stature as the preeminent institute of contemporary music and the performing arts, the Archives preserves, supports, and promotes Berklee’s multidisciplinary curriculum by providing historical context and content that fosters virtuosity, innovation, collaboration, and community.

Photograph of 1140 Boylston St, Boston, 1960s

Founded in Boston, Massachusetts in 1945 on the revolutionary premise that America’s contemporary music was worthy of rigorous study for practical application, Berklee is the world’s leading college for studying contemporary music and has as its mission to educate, train, and develop students to excel in music as a career. As such, Berklee Archives contributes to the fulfillment of Berklee’s institutional mission to provide accessible music education by collecting, preserving, and providing access to materials that support the pedagogical needs and activities of the community.

The Archives was formally established in 2012 with funding from the National Historic Publications and Records Commission. Since then, Berklee’s footprint has expanded to include campuses in New York City and Valencia, Spain; Berklee Online, the world’s largest online music school; and, following a merger in 2016, the Boston Conservatory (now Boston Conservatory at Berklee), the oldest and one of the most prestigious conservatories in the U.S. for dance, music, and theater. 

Berklee Archives serves as the primary repository for materials documenting the history, activities, and contributions of the College and the Conservatory, including its academic and administrative departments, faculty, students, and alumni. In addition, the Archives actively collects materials pertaining to Joseph Schillinger and the Schillinger System of Musical Composition, the history of jazz in Boston, and other jazz and popular music materials of note. Finally, the Archives also manages Berklee’s institutional repository for scholarly and creative work by faculty, students, and the greater Berklee community.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement

Berklee Archives is committed to adhering to Berklee’s Community Values and Diversity Values. We invite and embrace accountability as we address bias and discrimination in our collections, services, spaces, and workplace. We strive to do the following:

Sketch of 154 Tremont St, Boston, 1890s
  • Regularly assess the adequacy of existing collections to ensure they reflect the diversity of our community. 

  • Pursue collection development strategies that are relevant to the needs of our user community and magnify underrepresented voices and narratives.

  • Acknowledge and counteract gaps and silences in Berklee’s archival record through conscientious and reparative descriptive practices in our collection guides, metadata, and exhibits. Consult colleagues, donors, and the communities who have expertise in relevant subject areas for input when describing collection materials.

  • Provide equitable access to our collections; regularly review demographic trends and seek user feedback to inform our services.

  • Collaborate with Berklee’s Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to review our policies and collections in order to improve transparency and inclusivity, remove barriers to access and interpretation, and support iterative remediation.

In these ways, we seek to actively support Berklee in advancing equity, sustaining diversity, creating inclusive experiences for all members of our community, and confronting institutional policies and practices that perpetuate injustice.