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Marian Anderson's Fur Coat

Object Details

Mid-20th century
fur, silk
45 1/4 × 31 15/16 × 8 11/16 in. (115 × 81.1 × 22 cm)
Other (Sleeves): 21 1/4 in. (54 cm)
Contralto Marion Anderson (1897-1993) wore this fur coat when she sang the National Anthem at John F. Kennedy’s presidential inauguration in 1961, becoming the only person to sing at two presidential inaugurations. The long, brown coat, with a wide collar and cuffed sleeves, likely provided welcome warmth on the snowy January day. Its silk lining features a gold-and-brown floral design and the opera singer’s embroidered initials. In addition to lifting her voice in song, Anderson vocally advocated for civil rights for African Americans, most famously at her nationally broadcast Easter Sunday concert at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939. Her connections with Washington, DC also included mentoring mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves (1964-), a District native whose career she helped to inspire.
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Anacostia Community Museum Collection
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Anacostia Community Museum
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