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Frederick M. Manning collection of John McCormack

Collection IM-M035-1998: Frederick M. Manning collection of John McCormack


  • Creation: 1843 - 1997

Scope and Contents

These materials pertaining to John McCormack’s life and career were compiled by Frederick M. Manning. Notable manuscripts in the collection include McCormack’s memoirs, a book of song lyrics used as a prompt and prop by McCormack in performance, a handwritten index of McCormack’s sheet music, and annotated typescripts of McCormack’s introductory remarks to radio performances. Other notable items include correspondence to and from McCormack with original letters from Edward Elgar, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Lilli Lehmann. The collection also contains many photographs of McCormack, original programs from McCormack’s concert performances, sheet music, and analog sound discs of McCormack’s song recordings.

This collection also documents commemorations of McCormack after his death, including those in 1984, the centenary of McCormack’s birth. In addition, it contains research in the form of lists, notes, and transcriptions compiled by Manning and/or his colleagues.


Language of Materials

Primarily English with some French, Japanese, and Chinese.

Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research. Some audio materials may not be available immediately for use as they will require reformatting; please contact the Burns Library in advance for access to audio materials. McCormack's sheet music cabinet is not available for access at this time due to structural instability.

Restrictions on use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Biographical Note: John McCormack

Renowned tenor John McCormack performed around the world during the first few decades of the twentieth century. He was born in 1884 in Athlone, Ireland, son of a foreman at the Athlone Woollen Mills. He began his formal training with Dr. Vincent O’Brien in Dublin and, in 1903, had his first big musical success as winner of the Dublin Feis Ceoil competition. After receiving operatic training from Maestro Vincenzo Sabatini in Milan, McCormack debuted at London’s Covent Garden in 1907. He went on to perform in such operas as Don Giovanni, La Bohème, and Romeo and Juliet. McCormack debuted at the Manhattan Opera House in 1909, and toured Australia with soprano Nellie Melba in 1911. McCormack rose to prominence in the United States as an operatic performer, recitalist and recording artist. He became an American citizen in 1917. In the 1920s and 1930s, McCormack toured the world performing a unique repertoire combining classical music, ballads, sacred music and sentimental popular songs. McCormack was also a pioneering radio performer as a frequent guest and host of his own program, and his commercial recordings sold in the millions.

McCormack was a devoted Catholic, and in 1928 he was made a papal count by Pope Pius XI. He was known for his charitable efforts, performing for the war efforts in both world wars. In 1930, he starred in the film, Song o’ My Heart, and he also appeared in the 1937 film Wings of the Morning. McCormack retired from performing in 1938 and stopped singing altogether after 1942, when he developed emphysema.

McCormack married Lily Foley in 1906, and they had two children, Cyril and Gwen. He died on September 16, 1945, and is buried in Deansgrange Cemetery on the outskirts of Dublin.


Baker, Anne Pimlott. “McCormack, John Francis (1884–1945).” In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. (accessed August 20, 2009).

Shawe-Taylor, Desmond. "McCormack, John." In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, (accessed August 20, 2009).

Biographical Note: Frederick M. Manning

Frederick M. Manning (1938-1999) was the son of Frank Manning, who knew John McCormack as a young singer in Athlone and became a friend and early supporter of McCormack’s musical career. Frederick Manning, in turn, became a friend to the McCormack family and a supporter of John McCormack’s musical legacy. Manning was an expert collector and lecturer on the life and work of John McCormack. He was a founding member of the John McCormack Society of America (founded in 1950), the society’s first secretary and an honorary life-long vice-president.


“Boston Lyric Opera John McCormack Week, 1985 March 4-10,” program, box 9, folder 33, Frederick M. Manning Collection of John McCormack Materials, IM.M035.1998, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.


28 Linear Feet (43 containers)


This collection of materials relating to the Irish tenor John McCormack contains papers generated by McCormack during his lifetime, and later artifacts commemorating his singing career. The collection was assembled by Frederick M. Manning, founder and first secretary of the John McCormack Society of America. Materials include McCormack’s manuscript memoirs, correspondence, concert programs, photographs of McCormack, commemorations of his life and career, sheet music, and audio recordings of his songs.


Arranged in twelve series. I: Correspondence; II: Manuscripts and Typescripts by John McCormack; III: Programs and Advertisements; IV: Photographs; V: Commemorations of McCormack; VI: Honors and Awards; VII: Memorabilia and Ephemera; VIII: Research Materials Compiled by Manning and/or His Colleagues; IX: Clippings and Articles; X: McCormack Society Newsletters; XI: Sheet Music; and XII: Recordings.

Series I. Correspondence is further divided into five subseries. A. To and from McCormack; B. To Lily McCormack; C. About McCormack; D. To and from Frederick Manning; and E. Collected Notes and Correspondence.

Series II. Manuscripts and Typescripts by John McCormack is further divided into five subseries. A. Lyric Book; B. Memoirs; C. Acceptance Speech for the Laetare Medal, University of Notre Dame; D. Introductions to Radio Performances; and E. Essay: “The Art of Singing a Ballad”.


Purchase from Frederick M. Manning (1998); and gift of John P. Rattigan (2009).

Processing Information

Published books from this collection have been cataloged separately and are listed in the Boston College Libraries catalog under the local collection name "MANNING".

As a result of a Library systems change in 2017, the identification number of this collection was modified from IMC.M035 to IM.M035.1998.

The pin from box 9, folder 53 was rehoused in box 43. The box 9, folder 53 designation has not been reused.

Frederick M. Manning Collection of John McCormack
Katherine Kellett, Matthew Heitzman, Summer 2009; Kathleen McCormick, Spring 2005; Beth Sweeney, Amy Braitsch and AnneMarie Anderson, Autumn 2009; and Beth Sweeney
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States