Maud Cuney Hare

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Maud Cuney Hare
Born 1874
Galveston, Texas, US
Died 1936
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Resting place Lake View Cemetery, Galveston, Texas, US
29°16′52″N 94°49′33″W / 29.28111°N 94.82583°W / 29.28111; -94.82583
Residence Boston, Massachusetts, US
Other names Maud Cuney
Alma mater New England Conservatory of Music
Known for Documenting African-American culture
Spouse(s) William P. Hare
Parent(s) Norris Wright Cuney, Adelina Dowdie Cuney

Maud Cuney Hare (née Cuney, 1874–1936) was an American pianist, musicologist, writer, and African-American activist in Boston, Massachusetts in the United States. She was born in Galveston, the daughter of famed civil rights leader Norris Wright Cuney, who led the Texas Republican Party during and after the Reconstruction Era.

Essentially part of the second generation after emancipation, Cuney Hare devoted herself to literary and musical contributions. She studied at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where she lived most of her adult years. A musicologist, she collected music from across the South and Caribbean in her study of folklore, and was the first to study Creole music. She is most remembered for her final work, Negro Musicians and Their Music (1935), which helped document the development of African-American arts. In 1913 she published a biography of her father.

Early life and education[edit]

She was born in Galveston, Texas to Adelaide (née Dowdie) and Norris Cuney; her father was becoming a leader in the Texas Republican Party and served in the Customs Office and later became Collector of Customs for the port.[1] He also established a business of stevedore workers, employing about 500 men on the docks. Her father played the violin and her mother was a soprano singer; Maud and her brother Lloyd grew up in a house filled with music and literature.[2]

After attending local schools in Galveston, Maud Cuney went to Boston to study piano at the New England Conservatory of Music; she lived in the dormitory although some white students tried to have her excluded.[1] She also studied at Harvard's Lowell Institute of Literature,[3] and privately with biographer Emil Ludwig and Edwin Klare.[1] While in Boston, which had a vibrant black community, she met W.E.B. Du Bois, with whom she had a close lifelong friendship. She also met William P. Hare, whom she married in 1906.


Cuney taught for several years after graduating from the conservatory, in addition to performing as a concert pianist. She taught at the Texas Deaf, Dumb, and Blind Institute for Colored Youths in 1897 and 1898; at the settlement house program of the Institutional Church of Chicago during 1900 and 1901; and at Prairie View State College (now Prairie View A&M University), a historically black college Texas, in 1903 and 1904.[1] The Texas school systems were segregated.

She also did extensive research as a musicologist. She traveled to Mexico, Cuba, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico to collect and study folklore and musical traditions. She was "the first music scholar to direct public attention to Creole music," publishing a collection of songs and commentary in 1921[1]

Cuney-Hare wrote numerous articles about black music and arts. She edited a column on music and the arts for The Crisis magazine of the NAACP, and also contributed articles on these topics to the Christian Science Monitor, Musical Quarterly, Musical Observer, and Musical America.[4]

Her writing about music culminated in her best-known work, Negro Musicians and Their Music (1935). This documented much of the development of African-American music and arts.

Marriage and family[edit]

She married J. Frank McKinley in 1898, a doctor who was also of mixed race and 20 years her senior. They moved to Chicago, where he suggested "passing" as a Spanish-American couple. Their daughter Vera was identified that way on her birth certificate. Maud strongly disagreed with him on this. McKinley filed for divorce in 1902 and was awarded custody of their daughter Vera, who died in 1908 after a long illness.[5]

She married William P. Hare in 1904 and settled with him in Boston. She became involved in the "racial uplift" of the time.[6]

Professional circles[edit]

While studying in Boston, she became part of the Charles Street Circle (or West End Set). She was a close friend and confidant of noted author and activist W. E. B. Du Bois, who was based in Massachusetts for a time, and they were briefly engaged.[5] They were lifelong friends and worked jointly on numerous endeavors.

In performance as a pianist, Cuney-Hare collaborated with William Howard Richardson, a Canadian baritone singer. They shared an interest in music of the African diaspora and toured together for 20 years.[5] She founded the Allied Arts Center in Boston, to encourage education and performance in the arts. In addition to serving as a manager, she performed and lectured there.[5]

Cuney-Hare continued to be politically active; she was among the first women to join the Niagara Movement in 1907, an organization founded against segregation.[5] It was a predecessor to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.


Among Cuney-Hare's many artistic and literary works are the following.

  • Norris Wright Cuney: A Tribune of the Black People (1913), a biography of her father.
  • The Message of the Trees: An Anthology of Leaves and Branches (1918), a collection of nature poems, which Cuney-Hare edited.[4]
  • Creole Songs (1921)
  • Antar of Araby (1929), a play revolving around the life of the Arab/Abyssinian poet whose "valor" outshines his status as a slave[5][4]
  • "Portuguese Folk-Songs, from Provincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts", The Musical Quarterly [0027-4631], 1928, vol:14 iss:1, pp.35–53
  • Negro Musicians and Their Music (1935),[7] a history of African-American music traditions from Africa to the American jazz age

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Judith N. McArthur, "CUNEY-HARE, MAUD", Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 9, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association
  2. ^ Hales (2003), Southern Family in White and Black, p. xii
  3. ^ Hales (2003), Southern Family in Black and White, p. xii
  4. ^ a b c Hales, Douglas (2003). A Southern Family in White & Black: the Cuneys of Texas. Texas A&M University Press. p. 95. ISBN 1-58544-200-3. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Henry Louis Gates, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham. Harlem Renaissance Lives from the African American National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 138–140
  6. ^ Hales (2003), Southern Family in White and Black, p. xii
  7. ^ Hare, Maud Cuney (1935). Negro Musicians and Their Music. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-7838-1417-8. 


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