The Judith McCulloh Endowment for American Music

acquisitions editor Judy McCulloh launched the Music in American Life series in 1972 with Archie Green’s book Only a Miner, her dream was to build a series that would be capacious enough to encompass all of the dimensions of music in the American context. “A desert isle” series, she called it, meaning that if one were marooned with only the books in the series, that would be sufficient to tell the story of American music. Forty-five years later, with more than two hundred volumes published, the series continues to grow into Judy’s vision.

Launched by a generous gift from Judy’s husband, Dr. Leon McCulloh, the Judith McCulloh Endwoment for American Music helps ensure that the series will continue to thrive into the future, documenting American music in all its richness and diversity.

Judy’s passion for American music in all its forms and her skill and generosity as an editor are legendary. Many of our friends who are lending their support to the endowment readily express their indebtedness to Judy. Author Michael Scully spoke elo¬quently of his experience. “I’ve never forgotten Judy’s openness to me,” Michael said, “from the moment that Archie Green pulled me in front of her and insisted that she hear about my ‘book.’ Her grace extinguished the discomfort I felt in being thrust upon someone of her accomplishments. I don’t know how many Music in American Life books I had read by that time, but it was considerable. I consciously wrote The Never-Ending Revival in a manner designed to help it find a place in that series. I’ve never regretted it.”

The Judith McCulloh Endowment began providing support to University of Illinois Press publications in American music in 2018. The first beneficiary was Dixie Dewdrop: The Uncle Dave Macon Story by Michael D. Doubler. Uncle Dave was one of the early stars of the Grand Ole Opry and an important figure in bridging nineteenth-century folk and vaudeville and twentieth-century country music. Given Judy’s particular advocacy of vernacular and grassroots musics, this project seems a fitting first recipient.

Two more books will be supported by the McCulloh Endowment in 2019. Thomas Goldsmith’s Earl Scruggs and Foggy Mountain Breakdown: The Making of an American Classic explores the origins and influence of the legendary "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" against the backdrop of Scruggs's remarkable career. And David Whiteis’s Blues Legacy: Tradition and Innovation in Chicago delves into how the current and upcoming Chicago blues generations carry on the legacy of a music revered around the world.