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The University of Iowa Libraries

Special Collections and University Archives

Finding Aid

Rita Benton Papers
Collection Dates: 1952-1978
0.25 ft.

Access and Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Digital Surrogates: Except where indicated, this document describes but does not reproduce the actual text, images and objects which make up this collection. Materials are available only in the Special Collections Department.

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Acquisition and Processing Information: These materials were transferred to the University Archives after 1980.  Finding aid created January 2011.

Photographs: None

Scope and Contents

The Rita Benton papers include offprints, reviews, and photocopies of articles authored by her and dated 1952 to 1978. They are primarily in English and, in some instances, French.

Biographical Note

Rita Beatrice (Rosenfeld) Benton was born in New York City on June 28, 1918.  In 1937 she studied piano at the Julliard School of Music in New York City.  She received her B.A. degree from Hunter College in 1939.  She took her M.A. and Ph.D. in musicology at the State University of Iowa in 1951 and 1961.  She met Arthur L. Benton in Paris and  they married soon after. Arthur L. Benton (1909-2006) was professor of psychology and neurology at the University of Iowa from 1948 until his retirement in 1978. The couple had three children.  

Dr. Benton began her career at the State University of Iowa Libraries in 1952 as part of a team of faculty wives who worked to reclassify the library's collections from the Dewey Decimal System to the Library of Congress System.  Her formal education did not include librarianship; however, she drew upon her knowledge of music to work with that collection.  In 1957 she was made head of the music library.  She was made full professor of music in 1976. 

As a scholar, according to biographer Mary K. Jones, she is best known for her book Ignace Pleyel, A Thematic Catalogue of his Compositions (Pendragon, 1977), which received the Music Library Association award for the best book-length bibliography of that year. In 1967 she published the first volume of the Directory of Music Research Libraries, a descriptive reference to music libraries around the world. The project grew into a five-volume series which she edited until the time of her death. In 1976 she became the editor of Fontes artis musicae (Journal of the International Association of Music Libraries).

Rita Benton died March 23, 1980, while conducting research in Paris.  In her honor, the University of Iowa music library was renamed the Rita Benton Music Library on September 13, 1980.

[D. Anderson; 01/2011]

Related Materials

Folder, "Benton, Rita," Faculty and Staff Vertical Files collection (RG 01.15.03)

Folder, "Benton, Arthur," Faculty and Staff Vertical Files collection (RG 01.15.03)

Records of the School of Music (RG 06.24.01)

Box Contents List

Box 1

Reviews and articles

---. 1950s. Includes: "Form in the Sonatas Domenico Scarlatti," "Some Problems of Piano Music Editions"

---. 1960s. Includes: "The Early Piano in the United States," "Hüllmandel's Article on the Clavecin in the Encyclopédie Méthodique," "An ---Introduction to American Music Libraries," "Some Remarks on the Beginnings of the Piano in France by Henri Gil-Marchex" (translation), "London Music in 1815, as Seen by Camille Pleyel," "Ignace Pleyel, Disputant"

---. 1970s. Includes: "Perils, Problems, and Procedures of Pleyel Research," "Pleyel's Bibliothéque musicale"

---. Not dated