About the Center for Popular Music

Mission Statement | Research Collections |

Programming and Outreach | Timeline History of the CPM

The Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University is one of the world's oldest and largest research centers devoted to the study of American folk and popular music. Established in 1985 as a state-sponsored Center for Excellence, in 2009 it became a unit in the university's College of Media and Entertainment.

Mission Statement

The Center's mission is to promote research in American vernacular music, and to foster an understanding and appreciation of America's diverse musical culture. Thus, the Center:

  • manages and provides public access to a research archive
  • presents public programs that interpret various aspects of American vernacular music
  • engages in original research projects
  • disseminates the results of research via publications in various media
  • maintains a state-of-the-art recorded media preservation laboratory
  • sustains the educational mission of Middle Tennessee State University

Research Collections

The archive holds over one million items related to American vernacular music traditions, in formats that include sheet music, song books, sound recordings, video recordings, manuscripts, photographs, periodicals, posters, and catalogs. The Center for Popular Music reading room offers a reference collection of scholarly books and maintains periodical subscriptions covering a wide range of scholarly, professional, and consumer publications.

Programming and Outreach

The Center for Popular Music also strives to stimulate learning and the exchange of ideas through public programming, grant-supported projects, conferences, guest lectures, concerts, the Spring Fed Records label, social media engagement, digitization activities, and individual staff projects. We serve the students, faculty, and staff of MTSU, but are also open to the scholarly and musical communities, and engage regularly in outreach initiatives.


Timeline History of The Center for Popular Music



  • The Center for Popular Music established as a state-sponsored Center of Excellence
  • Paul F. Wells appoined the first Director


  • Moves from the Learning Resource Center to its current location in the John Bragg Building


  • NEH grant awarded to digitize the Kenny Goldstein Broadside Collection
  • Norm Cohen's A Finding List of American Secular Songsters Published between 1860 and 1899 published by the CPM


  • “Farther Along”: A Conference on the Southern Gospel Convention-Singing Tradition


  • The Center becomes part of the College of Mass Communication
  • Paul F. Wells retires as Director of Center for Popular Music
  • Loren Mulraine appointed Interim Director


  • Dale Cockrell appointed Interim Director
  • Compact shelving installed in collections storage area
  • An Advisory Council of faculty and local users established


  • Dale Cockrell appointed Director



  • Barry Gibb named Inaugural Fellow of the Center for Popular Music
  • Dale Cockrell retires as Director
  • Greg Reish appointed as Director



  • College of Mass Communication becomes the College of Media and Entertainment
  • Lamont Dozier named the second Fellow of the Center for Popular Music
  • CPM receives Grammy Foundation Grant for work on the Marvin Hedrick Collection


  • CPM reading room undergoes renovation

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American Vernacular Music Manuscripts

Kenneth S. Goldstein

My Homeland Tennessee

Charles K. Wolfe

Sam T Lucas



MTSU Box 41
1301 E. Main Street
Middle Tennessee State University
Murfreesboro, TN 37132

Room 140
Bragg Media & Entertainment Bldg.

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