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Satis Coleman Collection


Satis Coleman Collection
Coleman, Satis
Collection number:
3.50 linear feet
Bulk dates:
Inclusive dates:
Collection Area:
Special Collections in Performing Arts
Special Collections in Performing Arts, Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742. Contact the curator:

Satis Narona Coleman (1878-1961) was a music educator who specialized in teaching children. She primarily taught in studios in both Washington, D.C and in New York City. Her belief was that a child's music education should begin at an early age and be an integral part of their life. This collection contains notes written by Coleman, pictures from an event honoring her in 1957, publications, and a Chinese gong set made in 1919 and tuned to the pentatonic scale. Materials date from between 1919 and 1957.

Important Information for Users of the Collection


There are no restricted files in this collection.

Preferred citation:

Satis Coleman Collection, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:

This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

Satis Narona Coleman (1878-1961) was a music educator who specialized in teaching music to children. In 1895, she graduated from Sam Houston Normal Institute and went on to earn her B.S. (1927), M.A. (1928) and Ph.D. in educational psychology (1937) from Columbia University. Coleman also taught widely as a private music instructor before and after completing her studies.

Coleman believed that children should be introduced to and engaged in music at a very young age in order to develop their unique skills and further discover their own talents. Through her own academic studies, Coleman developed a cipher notation system that introduced children to sounds before they were introduced to the symbols used to notate music. Improvisation was key to her teaching philosophy, which was built on the works of Rousseau, Pestalozzi, and Froebel. Coleman also put forth an idea for Walt Disney to produce a motion picture depicting the history of music; this idea is outlined in her Notes on the Evolution of Music. Disney was already producing short subjects with a similar idea, so Coleman's plan was never fully realized.

Through her research, Coleman developed simplistic instruments that could be played by children and used in full-scale symphonies that she composed. She was a music educator whose philosophy pioneered notions still held in music education today.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Satis Coleman Collection covers the period of 1919-1957 with the bulk of the materials dating from 1957. The collection consists of one legal-sized letter box containing notes written by Coleman as well as pictures from an event honoring her in 1957. Another box containing a Chinese gong set made in 1919 and tuned to the pentatonic scale is also included in the collection.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The first donation was by Arthur Redner in March 1971. At least two accruals followed, possibly by other donors.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Bonnie Jo Dopp

Encoded by:

EAD markup completed by Amanda May, August 2013. Updated by John Davis, October 2014.

Arrangement of Collection

The Satis Coleman Collection is divided into three series:

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Notes and Pictures, 1957 (.25 linear feet)

This series contains both typed and handwritten notes from Satis Coleman as well as four glossy pictures from an event honoring her in 1957.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
A file folder titled Notes on The Evolution of Music signed by Satis N. Coleman series 1box 1folder 1
One page: memo from someone on the Board of Education of Norwalk, Connecticut (signed Arthur Redner) series 1box 1folder 2
9 pages: typed outline titled Some of the Episodes which would probably belong in a Sound Picture of THE EVOLUTION OF THE ART OF MUSIC signed by Satis N. Coleman. series 1box 1folder 3
4 pages: handwritten notes (not signed) series 1box 1folder 4
2 pages: advertising brochure for a film entitled The Human Adventure. series 1box 1folder 5
Four glossy 8 x 10 photographs taken in 1957 during a MENC Student Chapter meeting honoring Satis Coleman at the Iowa State Teachers College in Cedar Falls, Iowa. series 1box 1folder 6

Series 2: Musical Instruments, 1919 (3 linear feet)

This series contains a set of Chinese gongs mounted on a wooden frame and tuned to the pentatonic scale.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
A set of eight brass cup bells mounted on a metal rod on a wooden frame -- Annotated with a typed note series 2box 2folder 1

Series 3: Publications, 1925-1937 (.25 linear feet)

This series contains publications of Satis Colemans writings.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Papers and Proceedings of the Music Teachers National Association, 1925 series 3box 1folder 7
Progressive Education, January 1927 series 3box 1folder 8
Coleman, Satis N., Psaltery Book, 1937 series 3box 1folder 9

Related Material

A dissertation about Ms. Coleman by a student at the University of Maryland:

Source: Dissertation Abstracts


Author: BOSTON, SHEILA C.; ROGER J. FOLSTROM. In: DAI VOL. 54-01A Page 0121, 00177 Pages Number: AAG9315605

Year: 1992 Abstract: The purpose of this study was to confirm, clarify, and document Satis N. Colemans contributions to music education and to describe her philosophy of music education and her teaching approaches. Coleman developed her philosophy of music education while teaching music in her private studios in Washington, DC, and New York City. She believed all children should be engaged in a variety of musical activities, beginning at a very early age. She theorized that music should be an intrinsic part of the daily life of all children, regardless of their level of musical ability. She also believed that creative ability existed in all children and should be developed through various musical experiences. Complexity and difficulty of musical experiences should be appropriate for the childs level of development. Coleman introduced her theories and teaching strategies to the Lincoln School of Teachers College, Columbia University, where she taught Creative Music classes from September 1920 through June 1942. She taught similar classes to music supervisors and classroom teachers at Teachers College from 1925 through 1942. Coleman published many books for children promoting the making and playing of simple instruments. Simple instruments, as defined by her, were more appropriate for children to begin their musical experiences than more technically difficult instruments. Musical abilities would develop much as the musical abilities of humankind had developed--from the simple to the complex. Responding to criticism from colleagues, she advised that the instrument making aspect of her program should not begin at too early an age, and should be in addition to the vocal program and never at its expense. Coleman proved the worth of her system of number notation by conducting an experiment in conjunction with the Association for Childhood Education in selected public schools in the United States. Coleman considered music vital in the life of every child. Fostering a lifelong love of music, rather than perfecting technical skills in the performance of music, formed the cornerstone of her philosophy. Her approach offered an alternative philosophy and methods to music educators of her time and her work provided a prototype for contemporary music education.



Location: PA LIB Folio LD3231.M70d Boston, S.C

An unpublished and undated graduate-level seminar paper by Mary Ann Goodall entitled Satis Colemans Contribution to Music Education: a review, analysis, and reassessment. This paper was probably written sometime in the mid-1970s. 39 pages.

Location: SCPA Research Papers file number 475

A copy of the Jan-Feb-Mar 1927 issue of Progressive Education in which an article by Satis Coleman appears: Creative Experience through Making Musical Instruments. 10 pages.

Location: SCPA Research Papers file number 651

A file labeled Coleman, Satis is in the MENC Biography File, available upon request to the curator.

The following titles by Satis Coleman are in the cataloged book collection of the library. Some are in SCPA, others in PAL or MCK.

This uncataloged book is in the Ginn Music Library: Carols. Box 26. Christmas Carols from Many Countries. Satis Coleman and Elin K. Jorgensen. Schirmer, Incorporated. 1934.

An uncataloged photocopy of The Psaltery Book by Satis N. Coleman

Location: SCPA Research Papers file number 2345.

An article by Coleman, Creative Music for Children is in Papers and Proceedings of the Music Teachers National Association, Edited by K. Gehrkens. Hartford, CT: Music Teachers National Association 1926

Location: PA LIB SCPA ML27.U5M8

For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.