The history of any skilled urban trade is ultimately tied to the growth and development of the city in which it is located. From its humble eighteenth-century beginnings instrument making grew to be one of New York City's most sizable and important trades. By the 1840s the city was the largest producer of instruments in the Western Hemisphere and in the decades that followed designs and innovations pioneered by New York artisans influenced and inspired instrument makers throughout the world. Although many of the these instruments survive in American museums there existed no comprehensive guide to their makers. Nancy Groce's biographical dictionary chronicles all of these master craftsmen in colorful detail from the obscure work of Geoffry Stafford in 1691 to the zenith of the 1890s and on to the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Trained as a folklorist, ethnomusicologist, and organologist (musical instrument specialist), Dr. Groce has extensive experience as a scholar, author, and cultural programmer. Currently a folklorist at the Library of Congresss American Folklife Center, she previously served as a curator at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (2000-2007), where she was in charge of major Smithsonian Folklife Festival programs on Northern Ireland (2007), Alberta (2006), Scotland (2003), and New York City (2001). Past posts include serving as Senior Program Officer for the New York Council for the Humanities (1986-1995), Borough Folklorist for Brooklyn (1995-1997) and Staten Island, New York (1983-1986), and
fellowships at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. She received a Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Michigan, and also holds an M.M. in Ethnomusicology/American Music and an M.A. in American Culture. She is author and producer of numerous books, articles, and CDs.