Music Enhances a Family Connection

February 28, 2023

In early February, 18-year-old Amanda Caimi traveled from Rome in her native Italy to visit the Booth Family Center for Special Collections. She came to learn more about the life and works of her grandmother, Ruth Norman (1927-2007). Booth holds an extensive collection of musical manuscripts created by Norman over the course of her career as a composer, concert pianist, educator, and organist. Her papers are part of a growing collection of primary source materials on African American composers and performers held in the Center.

Detail of Ruth Norman music manuscript for "Golden Precepts."
John Zarrillo and Amanda Caimi
John Zarrillo and Amanda Caimi.

In building such a collection, Booth has been fortunate to have Dr. Mickey Thomas Terry, music professor at Howard University and a Georgetown University alumnus, as a collaborator. Dr. Terry and I met with Ms. Caimi in Booth’s classroom on February 2, where she was able to look at materials from her grandmother’s collection. Dr. Terry provided context for the collection and shared many personal memories of his friend Ruth Norman. Dr. Sharon Shafer, Professor Emerita of Music at Trinity Washington University, also joined us virtually to discuss the significance of Norman’s work.

Through this combination of storytelling and the study of musical manuscripts, Ms. Caimi was able to deepen her understanding of her grandmother's contributions to and influence on the classical music community of Washington D.C.


Dr. Mickey Terry and Amanda Caimi
Dr. Mickey Terry and Amanda Caimi study a Ruth Norman music manuscript.


The Ruth Norman Collection is accessible to researchers in the Booth Family Center for Special Collections reading room, which has reopened to researchers outside the Georgetown University community after a two-year closure due to the pandemic.

John Zarrillo, Head of Archival Processing