This collection consists of 110 black-and-white photographic prints depicting musicians performing at various American and European jazz clubs between 1948 and 1991. The collection contains mounted and unmounted 11" x 14" and 16" x 20" prints made by Leonard. Artists represented among these photographs are Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Lester Young, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, and Thelonious Monk. The photographs are organized into three series: Series 1: 11"x 14" prints, Series 2: 16" x 20" prints, and Series 3: Addenda. The series are arranged alphabetically by performer's last name. Unmatted 16" x 20" prints can be found in box 2 but are listed alphabetically by performer.
Biographical / Historical:
Herman Leonard (1923‑ ) was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania and served as a military photographer in Burma during World War II. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in photography from Ohio University and began working with Yousuf Karsh, a Canadian portraitist. Settling in New York in 1949, Leonard began photographing jazz musicians at various jazz clubs on Broadway and Fifty‑Second Streets, and in Harlem for such publications as Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Life, Look, Playboy, and Time. He later to Paris to begin a fashion and advertising business. He also continued photographing jazz musicians. In 1988 Leonard presented his first exhibition, "Images of Jazz," in London. This show established his reputation as a leading photographer of jazz and sparked further shows and publications.
The Herman Leonard Photographs were donated to the National Museum of American History by Mr. Leonard on December 17, 1991 and in 2006.
Collection is open for research.
The Archives Center does not own the rights to the Leonard photographs. All requests for permission to use these photographs for non‑museum purposes must be addressed directly to Herman Leonard at (504) 286‑2444.
Audiotapes, CDs and digital files: an ongoing project to interview and preserve the memories of people important in the jazz world, including jazz musicians, singers, dancers, producers, arrangers, and others. A list of interviewees and interviewers follows.
The following is a list of the individuals who conducted the interviews.
1. Brown, Anthony
2. Baker, Lida
3. Burstein, Julie
2. Bluiett, Hamiet
This collection is arranged into six series.
Series 1, DAT and CD Original Interview Recordings, 1992-2012
Series 2, Cassette Reference and Master Interview Tapes, 1992-2012
Series 3, Audio CD Reference Copies, 2000-2012
Series 4, Video/CD, 1994-2012
Series 5, Transcripts and Abstracts, 1992-2014
Series 6, Supplemental Documentation, 1992-2012
Biographical / Historical:
The Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program, a project of "America's Jazz Heritage, A Partnership of the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund and the Smithsonian Institution" initiative was created in 1992. More than 150 in-depth oral history interviews were conducted from 1992 through 2002. The collection was transferred to the Archives Center of the National Museum of American History in 2000. Now part of the National Museum of American History's American Music History Initiatives, the Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program continues to conduct interviews as funding is available.
The Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program was established to document significant jazz musicians, performers, producers, and business associates in their own words and voices. Program staff contacted and worked with potential interviewees to arrange for interviews. Each interview was conducted by a jazz authority and was recorded on digital audiotape by a professional audio engineer. The interviews averaged 6 hours in length and covered a wide range of topics including early years, initial involvement in music, generally, and jazz specifically, as well as experiences in the jazz music world, including relationships to musicians. The original DAT interview tapes were then dubbed to audiocassettes and CD to create protection and access copies. More recent interviews have been recorded using fully digital technology and the interviews are preserved and made availbel as digital files.
A number of the interviews were conducted as part of the Ella Fitzgerald Oral History Project of the Jazz Oral History Program. Funded by the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, these interviews focus on the life and work of Ella Fitzgerald. The National Endowments for the Arts Jazz Masters Oral Histories Program continues to support new interviews with NEA Jazz Masters.
For more information about jazz concerts, education, collections, Jazz Appreciation Month, and the Jazz Master orchestra, visit Smithsonian Jazz.
The interviews were made for the Smithsonian Institution under the auspices of the Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program supported by America's Jazz Heritage, funded by the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Oral Histories Program. Additional interviews were conducted with support from the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation.
Collection is open for research. Researchers must use reference copies.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions. Release forms exist for most interviews.
[Interviewee name] Interview, Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program Collection, 1992-2014, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
The interviews were made for the Smithsonian Institution under the auspices of the Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program and supported by America's Jazz Heritage, funded by the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Oral Histories Program. Additional interviews were conducted with support from the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation.