Faculty Changes: 1963-1968

Correspondence between Leah Thorpe and Charles Kent

Correspondence between Kent and Thorpe

Around the same time as the Kennedy correspondence in 1963, Conservatory Director Charles Kent approached Leah Thorpe, Dean of the Preparatory, about the possibility of hiring an African-American teacher. She was resistant, voicing concern about the reaction of students' parents and suggesting that the Conservatory be the first to hire an African-American teacher. Kent disagreed and started a search, but no further record of the search or hiring process was found. Their complete correspondance can be read by clicking on the image to the left.

Photograph of Wilmer Wise at Druid Hill Park

Photograph of Wilmer Wise

Several years later, trumpet player Wilmer Wise was hired by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He was both the first African-American musician in the BSO and the first African-American faculty member at Peabody. Other than his last name in a list of faculty salaries from 1968, no record of his employment at Peabody has been found. He stated in a Sounds and Stories interview that he was surprised to learn that he was the first African-American teacher at Peabody. 

Faculty Changes: 1963-1968