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Mildred Dilling papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 7775

Scope and Contents

This collection contains press clippings, concert programs, and articles collected by Mildred Dilling dating from 1914 to 1982. Materials also include photographs of Ms. Dilling. There are notebooks filled with anecdotes and short stories with many writings by her as well. A majority of the materials are harp related. Also contains various papers collected by Mildred Dilling. Includes letters to and from other harpists and holiday greetings. Photographs include promotional photos of Ms. Dilling, her travels, and some of Charlene Dilling. Additionally includes notebooks containing ancedotes and short stories written by Mildred Dilling, address books, and Mildred Dilling's wedding book.


  • 1914-1982


Conditions Governing Access

Open to public research.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances.

Permission to publish material from the Mildred Dilling papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

Mildred Dilling (1894-1982) was a prominent harpist who studied under Henriette Renié. She collected various instruments and by the end of her life had obtained over 120.

Mildred Dilling was born on February 23, 1894, in Marion, Indiana. From a young age, Mildred knew she wanted to play the harp. Unfortunately for her, there was no harp teacher in Marion. So at age six, she began to take piano lessons at the Marion Conservatory of Music. When she was eleven, her family moved to Indianapolis for her father's business. Her parents arranged for her to have harp lessons from Louise Schellschmidt, and one year later, Mildred was given her first harp. It had previously belonged to General Evangeline Booth, of the Salvation Army. She later went on to study under Henriette Renié before performing for many occasions.

On her first tour of the country, Mildred gave over 85 concerts and while in the height of her career traveled approximately 30,000 miles each year. She visited over seventy-five different cities in the United States and had the opportunity to play for five different presidents. Mildred had a passion for the instrument itself and was fascinated with how widely the harp varies in terms of style, sound, and appearance. Because of this, she traveled with seven different harps. Yet another one of her accomplishments was her own CBS radio show where she played harp solos each week.

In 1943, she married Clinton Parker and lived happily until his premature death five years later. To cope with his passing, she decided that work was the best therapy. She became a soloist in the Bergen Symphony Orchestra, the oldest in the world.

One of her most widely known accomplishments was co-founding the American Harp Society. In 1981, she presented the Celtic Single Action Harp, Dilling Model. This new harp had seven levers on top of the harp, acting in the place of pedals. Each lever controlled one note in every octave and either hand could be used to activate them. She also taught lessons and held numerous masterclasses in countries all over the world. Some of her students included "Harpo" Marx, Deanna Durbin, Laurence Olivier, Bob Hope, and even the Crown Princess of Michiko Japan. She became the world's foremost collector of harps. Since then, she had acquired over 120 different instruments. Some of these included rare harps from Burma and Ireland, and the harp that had belonged to Queen Marie Antoinette. She died in 1982 at age eighty-eight.


2 cartons (2 linear ft.)

30 boxes (15 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



The collection contains two series: I. Mildred Dilling press clippings and articles, 1941-1981. II. Mildred Dilling concert papers, circa 1920-1980.

The original order of the collection has been retained. Items are housed in archival boxes, but series are spread throughout the collection. While a majority of the collection fits into either of the two series, there are some loose papers that do not belong in either.

Custodial History

Donated by the American Harp Society in 2000.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; American Harp Society; April 2000.


Prominent Harpists, (Section IV.a.i. International Harp Collection Development Policy January 2011).

Processing Information

Processed; Lynzi Phillips; 2011.

Register of the Mildred Dilling papers
Lynzi Phillips
2011 March 14
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States