Multiple Grammy Award Winning Artist Janis Ian Donates Personal Archives to Berea College


Multiple Grammy Award winning recording artist, songwriter and musician Janis Ian has donated her entire archives, along with her father’s 1937 Martin D-18, to Berea College’s Special Collections and Archives at Hutchins Library, where they will be made available for viewing and study in the future.

Personalized photo of Janis Ian and Dolly Parton from 2003

A personalized photo of Janis Ian and Dolly Parton from 2003 is one of the many items included in the Janis Ian Archives at Berea College.

1977 photo of Janis Ian performing in Japan.

This 1977 photo of Janis Ian performing in Japan was taken by Peter Cunningham and is one of the many photos included in the Janis Ian Archives at Berea College.

A signed vinyl copy of Janis Ian’s “Fly Too High,” released in 1979 as a 45-rpm single.

This signed vinyl copy of Janis Ian’s “Fly Too High,” released in 1979 as a 45-rpm single, is one of the many items included in the Janis Ian Archives at Berea College.

Not only will her devoted and loyal fans around the globe be able to view the memorabilia and materials of her decades-long career, they will be able to support the efforts to preserve, catalog, digitize and display the priceless items at Berea and eventually in an online archive. Ian and Berea College are jointly establishing a fund to preserve the legacy of her career in perpetuity.

While many artists have received significant amounts of money for turning over their archives, The Janis Ian Archives are entirely different–Ian’s belief in Berea College is so strong that she has donated all materials without compensation. Her only stipulation is that records remain open to the public, not just academic researchers. To learn more about the Janis Ian Archives Fund or to donate, visit https://www.berea.edu/give/jiaf/.

The Janis Ian Archives are a unique resource for music history research, offering public access to evidence of Ian’s life and career, including publishing, recording and live performance contracts, copyright paperwork, tax returns, contracts and correspondence dating back to 1964. The extensive archival collection includes Ian’s grandparents’ immigrant papers, circa 1916. It also chronicles the House Un-American Activities Committee years with insights into her parents’ FBI files (and what FBI surveillance cost the family over the decades). Additional materials document the journey of Ian’s 1937 Martin D-18 guitar and her involvement in the civil rights, women’s and gay rights movements.

“We are honored Janis Ian has chosen Berea College to house the archives from her remarkable life, and we look forward to making these items available to the public so others can get a glimpse of the significant mark she has made in the music industry and really all of American society,” said Berea College President Lyle Roelofs.

Archivists at Berea College are currently cataloguing the collection, which will be available for public viewing in 2023.

“As a historian and archivist, it is truly amazing to be working to catalogue and make available this priceless collection,” said Tim Binkley, head of Berea College’s Special Collections and Archives. “Traditionally, a collection of this magnitude would only be found in a big city. To have a collection like this at Berea College is quite an honor, and we look forward to completing the cataloguing of these items so they can be shared with the community and the world.”

Born in Farmingdale, N.J., in 1951, Ian released her last solo studio album this past January. Titled “The Light at the End of the Line,” it garnered Ian her 10th Grammy nomination – coincidentally the exact same category as her first Grammy nomination.

“It takes a certain amount of maturity to realize that you don’t have to keep proving you can write,” Ian says in her biography, which can be found on her website at janisian.com. “I’ve already created a body of work I’m proud of, and I’m old enough to realize that it’s the light at the end of the line that matters. And I’m not calling this retiring. It’s rewiring.”

More information about the Janis Ian Archives can be found here.

Categories: News
Tags: Hutchins Library, Special Collections and Archives

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College only admits academically promising students with limited financial resources—primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia—but welcomes students from 41 states and 76 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of nine federally recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly to earn money for books, housing and meals. The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.