University of Pittsburgh
February 7, 1999



Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 8 -- As a tribute to the man who helped assemble the world-renowned Foster Hall Collection at the University of Pittsburgh, Pitt has established the Fletcher Hodges, Jr. Curatorship at the Center For American Music.

Hodges, along with Josiah Kirby Lilly, began building in 1931 a vast collection of Stephen Foster's original music, letters, notes, thousands of books and periodicals, art works, sound recordings and momentos to perpetuate the legacy of America's first professional songwriter. The holdings were formally presented to Pitt in 1937, at which time Hodges became founding curator and remained so for 45 years until his retirement in 1982. The collection is now part of Pitt's Center for American Music.

"This endowment will assure outstanding stewardship for this unparalleled musical treasure," said Center Director Deane Root.

Hodges researched and wrote about Foster for three decades and provided extensive background material for "Swanee River," a 1939 motion picture based on the life of Foster, starring Don Ameche. Hodges was instrumental in the U.S. Mint coining a Stephen Foster half-dollar in 1936, the issuance of a one-cent Stephen Foster stamp in 1940, the development of Stephen Foster Memorial State Park in White Springs, Florida in 1950 and the election of Foster to the Hall of Fame of Great Americans.