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Ernie Smith Jazz Film Collection

Performer:
Basie, Count, 1904-  Search this
Webster, Ben  Search this
Armstrong, Louis, 1900-1971  Search this
Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974  Search this
Fitzgerald, Ella  Search this
Goodman, Benny (Benjamin David), 1909-1986  Search this
Jamal, Ahmad, 1930-  Search this
Robinson, Bill, 1878-1949  Search this
Davis, Miles  Search this
Collector:
Smith, Ernie  Search this
Names:
Apollo Theatre (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Extent:
30 Cubic feet (352 film reels , 16 mm)
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Motion pictures (visual works)
Place:
Harlem (New York, N.Y.) -- 20th century
Date:
1894-1979
Summary:
More than 300 reels of 16mm black and white and color film, silent and sound, fiction and documentary motion picture film documenting jazz and related musical performances, social and popular dance styles and performances, jazz musicians, performance locales, and documentation of African-American popular culture. A list of featured performers in the collection is shown below. The films are frequently compilations produced by Smith for lectures.
Scope and Contents:
The collection consists of 352 reels of 16mm motion picture film. Most of the film is 16mm black and white and sound (composite optical track print), although a few titles are silent or in color. The collection is comprised of compilation reels created by Ernie Smith to accompany his lectures, topical compilation reels created by Ernie Smith, compilation reels created by the Archives Center, and single title reels. The Archives Center produced master and reference video copies using a wet-gate telecine film-to-tape transfer system. Titles were often combined to allow for increased ease of handling, storage, and duplication.

The collection is strongest in the areas of jazz dance styles including Lindy Hop and tap, overviews of jazz musical performers and styles; specific jazz musicians and performers including Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Woody Herman, Artie Shaw, Bob Crosby, Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Jack Teagarden as well as a wide range of female vocalists; and documentation of the New York jazz and club scene. The collection includes feature films and excerpts from feature films, Soundies and other film shorts, television kinescopes, and documentary films.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into one series and is not arranged in accordance with standard archival procedures. The breadth of the collection and the existence of so many multiple topic and/or performer compilation reels made it impossible to impose traditional archival series order. Therefore, each reel is described at the item level in the container list.
Biographical / Historical:
Ernie Smith began collecting jazz-related film in 1955. He wrote the entry about jazz film in the "Grove Dictionary of Jazz," and worked with Marshall Stearns on the book "Jazz Dance."
Ernest (Ernie) Smith began collecting jazz and jazz dance films during the mid-1950s. An Art Director for a New York advertising agency, Smith had a long-standing interest in jazz and jazz dance that began during his youth in Pittsburgh, Pa. Early on, Smith discovered that jazz music was best appreciated while dancing. He became an accomplished Lindy Hopper, frequenting both white and African American ballrooms.

His job at the advertising agency supported Smith's two passions - painting and jazz dance and music. Smith was also a film enthusiast so, in 1954, after taking a jazz class at the New School taught by Marshall Stearns, a leading jazz scholar, he began collecting examples of jazz and jazz dance on film. In the process of creating his film collection, Smith became one of the leading authorities on jazz and jazz dance films. He collaborated with Stearns on the 1964 book Jazz Dance, compiling the book's jazz dance film listing. He also wrote the extensive entry on jazz film for the 1988 edition of New Grove Dictionary of Jazz .

Smith built his film collection by identifying films of potential interest and acquiring them through trade and purchase. He created lecture reels on specific topics -- the history of jazz, social dance, tap dance, Duke Ellington, Lindy Hop -- and presented lecture/screenings nationally and internationally. He also provided footage for numerous documentaries and maintained active relationships with filmmakers, other film collectors, jazz scholars, the swing dance community, and musicians.

Ernie Smith donated his film collection to the Archives Center in 1993. He continues to lecture and participate in swing dance activities, but he devotes the majority of his time to painting and related artistic pursuits.
Provenance:
The Archives Center acquired the collection from Ernie Smith in 1993.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research. Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs and negatives. Contact the Archives Center at 202-633-3270.
Rights:
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.
Topic:
Tap dancing -- 1930-1970  Search this
Motion pictures and music -- 1930-1970  Search this
Dancing in motion pictures, television, etc. -- 1930-1970  Search this
Television and music -- 1930-1970  Search this
Jazz -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Jazz musicians -- 1930-1970  Search this
Jazz dance -- 1930-1970  Search this
African Americans in the performing arts -- 1930-1970  Search this
Genre/Form:
Motion pictures (visual works) -- 20th century
Citation:
Ernie Smith Jazz Film Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0491
See more items in:
Ernie Smith Jazz Film Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0491

Jazz and Big Band Collection

Creator:
Morrow, Buddy  Search this
Mooney, Art  Search this
Timbrell, Tiny, 1917-1992  Search this
Stacy, Jess, 1904-1995  Search this
Wilson, Teddy, 1912-1986  Search this
Glen Gray Band  Search this
Gabler, Milt  Search this
Fields, Shep  Search this
Dick Jurgens  Search this
James, Harry  Search this
Horace Heidt  Search this
Lombardo, Guy  Search this
Kay Kyser  Search this
Duchin, Eddy, 1909-1951  Search this
Goodman, Benny (Benjamin David), 1909-1986  Search this
McIntyre, Hal, -1959  Search this
Krupa, Gene, 1909-1973  Search this
Barron, Blue, 1912-2005  Search this
Elman, Ziggy  Search this
Cohasco, Inc.  Search this
Cugat, Xavier, 1900-1990  Search this
Names:
Anthony, Ray, 1922-  Search this
Armstrong, Louis, 1900-1971  Search this
Barnet, Charlie  Search this
Beneke, Tex  Search this
Brown, Les, 1912-2001  Search this
Brubeck, Dave  Search this
Calloway, Cab, 1907-  Search this
Christy, June, 1925-  Search this
Cole, Nat King, 1917-1965  Search this
Dorsey, Tommy, 1905-1956  Search this
Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974  Search this
Fitzgerald, Ella  Search this
Frankie Laine  Search this
Garner, Erroll  Search this
Getz, Stan, 1927-1991  Search this
Gillespie, Dizzy, 1917-1993  Search this
Gray, Glen, 1906-1963  Search this
Henderson, Fletcher, 1897-1952  Search this
Herman, Woody, 1913-1987  Search this
Jordan, Louis, 1908-1975  Search this
Kaye, Sammy, 1910-1987  Search this
Kenton, Stan  Search this
Lee, Peggy  Search this
Lopez, Vincent, 1894-1975  Search this
Lunceford, Jimmie  Search this
MacRae, Gordon  Search this
Martin, Freddy, 1906-1983  Search this
May, Billy  Search this
Mercer, Johnny, 1909-1976  Search this
Miller, Glenn  Search this
Monroe, Vaughn, 1911-1973  Search this
Mulligan, Gerry  Search this
Norvo, Red  Search this
Page, Patti  Search this
Ray McKinley  Search this
Rich, Buddy  Search this
Shaw, Artie, 1910-2004  Search this
Shore, Dinah, 1917-1994  Search this
Sinatra, Frank, 1915-1998  Search this
Spivak, Charlie  Search this
Vallée, Rudy, 1901-1986  Search this
Vaughan, Sarah, 1924-1990  Search this
Waring, Fred, 1900-1984  Search this
Webb, Chick, 1909-1939  Search this
Weems, Ted  Search this
Welk, Lawrence, 1903-1992  Search this
Whiteman, Paul, 1890-1967  Search this
Whiting, Margaret  Search this
Extent:
1.5 Cubic feet
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Contracts
Postcards
Posters
Publicity photographs
Programs
Menus
Magazines (periodicals)
Tickets
Matchcovers
Motion picture stills
Handbills
Signatures (names)
Sheet music
Date:
1927 - 1966
Scope and Contents:
The collection consists of 235 pieces of music ephemera assembled by an anonymous California musicologist over several decades. The contents include such things as concert ticket stubs; show programs; handbills; publicity stills; record store posters; nightclub souvenirs; autographs; contracts, lobby cards; movie stills; postcards; fan and record industry magazines; sheet music; an oversize RKO theatre owners' advertising book for the 1942 sensation "Syncopation," starring Charlie Barnet, Benny Goodman, Harry James, Gene Krupa, et al; and miscellany such as matchbook covers and novelty promotional pieces. There are just a few letters in the collection. The collection contains materials representing both bands and band members, and individual artists. In many cases, there are only one or a few relevant items. Persons and acts represented include: Ray Anthony, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Barnet, Tex Beneke, Les Brown, Dave Brubeck, Cab Calloway, June Christy, Nat King Cole, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Erroll Garner, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Glen Gray, Fletcher Henderson, Woody Herman, Harry James, Louis Jordan, Sammy Kaye, Stan Kenton, Gene Krupa, Kay Kyser, Frankie Laine, Peggy Lee, Guy Lombardo, Vincent Lopez, Jimmy Lunceford, Gordon MacRae, Freddy Martin, Billy May, Johnny Mercer, Glenn Miller, Vaughn Monroe, Gerry Mulligan, Red Norvo, Patti Page, Buddy Rich, Artie Shaw, Dinah Shore, Frank Sinatra, Charlie Spivak, Rudy Vallee, Sarah Vaughan, Fred Waring, Chick Webb, Ted Weems, Lawrence Welk, Paul Whiteman, Margaret Whiting, and Benny Goodman. In other cases, the collection contains an item or items (such as menus) that have been autographed. The collection contains autographs or autographed items for the following: Gene Krupa, Jess Stacy, Teddy Wilson, Blue Barron, Eddie Duchin, Shep Fields, Ziggy Elman, Glen Gray Band, Milt Gabler, Horace Heidt, Dick Jurgens, Kay Kyser, Guy Lombardo, Xavier Cugat, Hal McIntyre, Art Mooney, Buddy Morrow, Harry James and "Tiny" Timbrell.
Arrangement:
: 1 series.
Provenance:
Cohasco, Inc.,Purchase.,2016,ACNMAH 1388; Nonacc. No. pending.
Restrictions:
UNPROCESSED COLLECTION.
Unrestricted research access on site by appointment.,Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
Rights:
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.
Topic:
Jazz musicians -- United States  Search this
Musicians  Search this
Popular music  Search this
Music -- 20th century  Search this
Big band music  Search this
Jazz  Search this
Genre/Form:
Contracts
Postcards
Posters
Publicity photographs
Programs -- Concerts
Menus
Magazines (periodicals)
Tickets
Matchcovers
Motion picture stills
Handbills
Signatures (names)
Sheet music
Citation:
Jazz and Big Band Collection, 1927-1966, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.1388
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-1388
Additional Online Media:

When he Plays Jazz he's Got -- HOT LIPS (A Blues Fox Trot Song) [sheet music]

Topic:
Ethnic Imagery Project, Archives Center
Composer:
Busse, Henry  Search this
Lange, Charles Henry  Search this
Davis, Lou  Search this
Series Creator:
DeVincent, Sam, 1918-1997  Search this
Extent:
1 Item
Culture:
African Americans  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Sheet music
Date:
New York., Leo. Feist, Inc., 1922
Scope and Contents:
Stereotypical image of African American trumpet player. Lyrics about playing jazz.
Arrangement:
Box No. 74, Folder No. D 20th Century Songs about Afro-Am.
Local Numbers:
040300114.tif (AC Scan No. for front and back covers).

040300115.tif (AC Scan No. for lyrics and music, pages 2 and 3).

040300116.tif (AC Scan No. for lyrics and music, pages 4 and 5).
General:
Sub-series 3.4, African Americans.
Restrictions:
Unrestricted research use on site by appointment.
Series Rights:
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.
Topic:
Trumpet  Search this
Blues (Music)  Search this
Jazz -- 1920-1930.  Search this
Music -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
African American musicians  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sheet music -- 1920-1930
Series Citation:
The Sam DeVincent Collection of Illustrated American Sheet Music, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
See more items in:
Sam DeVincent Collection of Illustrated American Sheet Music, Series 3: African-American Music
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0300-s03-ref1087

William Russo Music and Personal Papers

Creator:
Strayhorn, Billy (William Thomas), 1915-1967  Search this
Russo, William, 1928-2003  Search this
Photographer:
Claxton, William  Search this
Leonard, Herman, 1923-2010  Search this
Composer:
Kenton, Stan  Search this
Musician:
Mulligan, Gerry  Search this
Names:
Chicago Jazz Ensemble  Search this
Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974  Search this
Extent:
53 Cubic feet
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Motion pictures (visual works)
Music
Audiotapes
Business records
Photographs
Correspondence
Librettos
Awards
Posters
Programs
Scrapbooks
Scores
Lecture notes
Date:
1920s-2002.
Scope and Contents:
Papers and audiovisual materials documenting Russo's career in music. The collection includes Russo's original and published music scores, parts and arrangements; audiovisual materials including recordings of broadcasts of Russo's radio show, performances of Russo's compositions, including performances by Duke Ellington, and film and video recordings of Russo's productions in theater and opera; and personal papers such as correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, publicity files, contracts, etc. Among the most significant items in the collection are experimental jazz arrangements for Stan Kenton in the late 1940s-early 1950s, undated arrangements for Gerry Mulligan, Russo's original arrangement of Duke Ellington's Sacred Concert, scores to his first and second symphonies, and scores and libretti to several early rock operas. The photographs include images of persons such as Ellington, Kenton, and Billy Strayhorn, and photographs by jazz photographers Herman Leonard and William Claxton. 2007 addendum includes correspondence, mostly between Russo and his family; eighteen diaries for 1946-1967 (not all years are present) with sparse entries, some in Italian; and additional music manuscripts, parts, scores and libretti.
Arrangement:
Divided into 3 series: Music manuscripts, Audiovisual materials, and Personal and Business Papers.
Biographical / Historical:
Russo (1928-2003) was a renowned American jazz composer, arranger and founder of the Chicago Jazz Ensemble.
Provenance:
Bequeathed to the Smithsonian by William Russo. Papers collected after Russo's death in 2003. The 2007 addendum sent by Russo's sister and daughter were also part of the bequest.
Restrictions:
Unrestricted research access on site by appointment.,Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
Rights:
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.
Topic:
Composers -- 20th century  Search this
Opera  Search this
Jazz musicians -- United States  Search this
Jazz  Search this
Music -- 20th century  Search this
Genre/Form:
Motion pictures (visual works)
Music -- Manuscripts
Audiotapes
Business records -- 20th century
Photographs -- 20th century
Correspondence -- 20th century
Librettos
Awards
Posters -- 20th century
Programs
Scrapbooks
Scores
Lecture notes
Citation:
William Russo Music and Personal Papers, 1920s-2002, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0845
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0845
Additional Online Media:

Frank Driggs Collection of Duke Ellington Photographic Reference Prints [copy prints]

Creator:
Driggs, Frank, 1930-  Search this
Office of Printing and Photographic Services (later, Office of Imaging, Printing, and Photography), Smithsonian Institution  Search this
Names:
Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974  Search this
Extent:
0.5 Cubic feet (1 box )
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Photographs
Copy prints
Reproductions
Date:
1923-1972
Scope and Contents note:
Collection consists of 157 8" x 10" black-and-white photographic copy prints of photographs in Frank Driggs's collection: Duke Ellington and his orchestra. Some copy prints have Smithsonian negative numbers.
Arrangement:
Collection arranged into ten series.
Biographical/Historical note:
Photographer and collector.
Related Materials:
Materials at Other Organizations

Jazz at Lincoln Center

The Frank Driggs Jazz Photograph Collection was acquired by Jazz at Lincoln Center in 2013. The collection also includes posters, sheet music, records and Frank Driggs' personal papers.
Provenance:
Collection donated by Frank Driggs, January 11, 1991.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
The Archives Center does not own rights to these photographs. Contact respository for details.
Topic:
Musicians -- United States  Search this
Music -- 20th century  Search this
Jazz musicians -- United States  Search this
Jazz  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints -- Silver gelatin -- 1980-2000
Photographs -- 20th century
Copy prints
Reproductions
Citation:
Frank Driggs Collection of Duke Ellington Photographic Reference Prints, 1923-1972, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0389
See more items in:
Frank Driggs Collection of Duke Ellington Photographic Reference Prints [copy prints]
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0389
Additional Online Media:

Robert Udkoff Collection of Duke Ellington Ephemera

Collector:
Udkoff, Robert, 1918- (businessman)  Search this
Names:
Swedish Music Academy  Search this
Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974  Search this
Ellington, Mercer Kennedy, 1919-1996 ((musician))  Search this
Extent:
1.33 Cubic feet (4 boxes)
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Audiotapes
Photographs
Clippings
Programs
Correspondence
Television scripts
Date:
1924-1990
Scope and Contents:
Photographs, event programs, periodicals, cassette audio tapes, correspondence, TV program scripts and pamphlets documenting Duke Ellington's career as a musician, 1924-1974, and his legacy after his death.
Arrangement:
Divided into five series.

Series 1; Photographs, 1964-1968

Series 2: Publications, 1944-1990

Series 3: Memorabilia, 1965-1981

Series 4: Correspondence and sketches, 1958-1990

Series 5; Cassette audio tapes, 1924-1933
Biographical / Historical:
Businessman and Ellington enthusiast, Robert Udkoff was born in Chicago and first heard Duke Ellington perform at Chicago's Oriental Theater in 1928. In 1932 he established a cordial relationship with Ellington that lasted until Ellington's death in 1974.
Provenance:
Collection donated by Robert Udkoff, 1991, January 29.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
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.
Topic:
Periodicals  Search this
Music -- 20th century  Search this
Jazz -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Jazz musicians -- United States  Search this
Genre/Form:
Audiotapes -- 1920-1940
Photographs -- 1960-1970
Clippings
Programs
Correspondence -- 1940-2000
Television scripts
Citation:
Robert Udkoff Collection of Duke Ellington Ephemera, 1924-1990, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0388
See more items in:
Robert Udkoff Collection of Duke Ellington Ephemera
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0388
Additional Online Media:

Claude Williams Papers

Creator:
Williams, Claude, 1908-2004  Search this
Fouse-Williams, Blanche Y.  Search this
Extent:
1 electronic discs (cd)
13 cassette tapes
4.66 Cubic feet (14 boxes, 1 oversized folder,)
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Electronic discs (cd)
Cassette tapes
Letters (correspondence)
Photographs
Programs
Posters
Scrapbooks
Financial records
Awards
Business records
Audiotapes
Articles
Manuscripts
Date:
circa 1920-2005
Summary:
Business and personal papers, photographs, and audio recordings of Claude "Fiddler" Williams, an award-winning jazz fiddler. Although Williams played music for almost a century the materials in this collection date largely from 1970 to 2005.
Scope and Contents:
This collection documents the later life and career of jazz violinist Claude "Fiddler" Williams. Materials include correspondence, photographs, unpublished writings, awards, business records, financial records, programs and a few music manuscripts. There is one scrapbook and several audio recordings. There are also an autographed poster from 1997 honoring five inductees to the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, including Claude Williams, Merle Haggard, Patti Page, Woody Guthrie and Eddie Burris. While there are some materials from Williams's youth, the vast majority of the collection dates from 1970. Williams's second wife, Blanche Y. Fouse-Williams, was vigilant about saving his papers. She also managed his career for the last few years of his life. This accounts for the increased volume of materials documenting his later years. Materials generally are arranged in chronological order within series and subseries.

Series 1, Business Records, 1973-2005, undated, is divided into seven subseries and includes business records, information relating to tours and performances, awards and certificates, business and personal correspondence, financial papers, articles and newspaper clippings, and biographical information.

Subseries 1, Events, 1977-2004, undated, includes contracts, copies of newspaper clippings, performance programs, brochures, ticket stubs, travel itineraries, travel receipts, correspondence, materials regarding his work as a fiddle teacher, advertisements for performances, a certificate of recognition, and napkins saved from a Washington Education Television Association (WETA) performance at the White House in 1998. Materials are arranged in chronological order.

Subseries 2, Itineraries, 1990-2001, includes lists and correspondence detailing locations, musicians, travel and lodging plans, and financial compensation for William's performances. Materials are arranged in chronological order.

Subseries 3, Awards and Certificates, 1978-2002, contains awards and certificates of appreciation from the Steamboat Delta Queen, Annual Black Musicians Conference, Kansas City Chapter of the International Association of Jazz Record Collectors, and the Manhattan School of Music, as well as an invitation to a reception honoring Kansas City Jazz musicians from the Consul General of Japan. Materials are arranged in chronological order.

Subseries 4, Correspondence, 1975-2004, consists of information relating to travel arrangements, tours, remuneration, music recordings, press kits, contracts, public television performances, involvement with the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as Williams's Smithsonian Folkways recording. Materials are arranged in chronological order.

Subseries 5, Financial Papers, 1990-2005, includes information about travel and payment, hotel bills and receipts, invoices for performances, music recordings sales, royalty statements and copies of checks. Materials are arranged in chronological order.

Subseries 6, Press, 1973--005, undated, includes magazines, newspaper clippings and articles, about Williams's performances and music, appearances and jazz festivals, as well as the Kansas City Jazz scene. Magazine titles include Kansas City Magazine , Missouri Alumnus , The Masters Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program , Jazz Ambassador Magazine , Kansas City Ambassador to Jazz , The Mississippi Rag , Fiddler Magazine , Jazz News , Jazz Times , Living Blues , Blues Access , and Kansas City . Materials are arranged by type and then in chronological order.

Subseries 7, Music, 1989-1995, undated, contains thirteen audio tape recordings, one CD, sheet music and set lists of music performed by Williams. There is an audio recording of Black and Blue: A Musical Revue , a Folk Master performance at Carnegie Hall. Williams's work with James Chirillo, an appearance on Birdflight , as well as recordings of live and studio performances are also included among these materials. There is a copy of Williams's CD Swingtime in New York and an interview from1992. Materials are arranged in chronological order.

Series 2, Personal Papers, 1978--005, undated, is divided into two subseries and contains letters, cards, postcards, invitations, copies of email, and requests for information and interviews. Most of the correspondence was addressed to Williams but there are materials that were sent to Blanche Williams. The correspondence is generally from fans, friends and family.

Subseries 1, Correspondence, 1978-2005, undated, consists of birthday cards from school age children, postcards, copies of newspaper clippings, White House and other government correspondence, congratulations or birthday wishes, as well as personal correspondence from friends inquiring about Williams's health and well-being. Also included is a draft for a chapter in a book on Claude Williams's contributions to jazz. Requests relating to research about Williams are also included. Materials are arranged in chronological order. Materials are arranged first by type followed by general correspondence in chronological order.

Subseries 2, Miscellaneous, undated, contains ephemera, autographs, affiliates list, well-wishes to Blanche Williams, a funeral program, mailing lists, lists of affiliated organizations, and a Count Bassie autograph.

Series 3, Photographs, 1977-2004, undated, includes personal and professional photographic prints and negatives of Williams. Subjects include performances and festivals, headshots and publicity, images of other musicians, family, friends, and posters with photographs created for his funeral. The majority of these photographs are of performances. Materials are arranged by subject.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into three series.

Series 1, Business Records, 1973-2005, undated

Subseries 1.1, Events, 1977-2004, undated

Subseries 1.2, Itineraries, 1990-2001

Subseries 1.3, Awards and Certificates, 1978-2002

Subseries 1.4, Correspondence, 1975-2004

Subseries 1.5, Financial Papers, 1990-2005

Subseries 1.6, Press, 1973-2005, undated

Subseries 1.7, Music; 1989-1995, undated

Series 2, Personal Papers, 1978-2005, undated

Subseries 2.1, Correspondence, 1978-2005, undated

Subseries 2.2, Miscellaneous, undated

Series 3, Photographs, 1977-2004, undated
Biographical / Historical:
Claude "Fiddler" Williams, 1908-2004, was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, the son of a blacksmith. His musical gifts developed at a very early age, and he quickly became adept at the guitar, banjo, mandolin and cello, learning mostly by ear, without formal training. After hearing the jazz violinist Joe Venuti, the violin became his instrument of choice, and it remained so for the rest of his life. He migrated to Kansas City in 1927 and toured with several territory bands. Additionally Williams toured with the Twelve Clouds of Joy and the Cole Brothers, and in 1936, joined Count Basie's band as the first guitarist. After he was fired from Count Basie's band because John Hammond thought Williams's guitar solos were taking too much attention away from Basie, he went back to the violin (or "fiddle" as he preferred to call it) and focused exclusively on it for the rest of his life. Later he started his own band and toured with several jazz groups working for a short time with the Works Progress Administration (WPA). His band appeared at the Monterey Jazz Festival, the Nice Jazz Festival, and the Smithsonian Institution's Festival of American Folk Life. Williams received numerous honors and awards, including induction into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, a proclamation from the city of Kansas City, and a 1998 National Heritage Fellowship which included a $10,000 award. President Bill Clinton invited him to perform at one of the parties celebrating his first inauguration. Williams continued to tour and perform until well into his nineties. He also gave instruction at Mark O'Connor's annual fiddle camp to young violinists. Mr. Williams died in April 2004.
Separated Materials:
Artifacts donated to the Museum's Division of Culture and the Arts include a suit and violin. See accession numbers: 2005.3105 and 2007.3020.
Provenance:
This collection was donated by Claude Williams's widow, Blanche Y. Fouse-Williams, in 2005.
Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use.

Physical Access: Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves. Researchers must use reference copies of audio-visual materials. When no reference copy exists, the Archives Center staff will produce reference copies on an "as needed" basis, as resources allow.

Technical Access: Do not use original materials when available on reference audio tapes.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Reproduction permission from Archives Center: fees for commercial use. All duplication requests must be reviewed and approved by Archives Center staff.
Topic:
Music -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Jazz -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Jazz musicians -- United States  Search this
Violinists  Search this
Musicians -- United States  Search this
Genre/Form:
Letters (correspondence) -- 20th century.
Photographs -- 2000-2010
Programs
Posters -- 1950-2000
Scrapbooks
Financial records
Awards
Business records -- 20th century
Audiotapes
Articles
Photographs -- 20th century
Manuscripts -- Music -- 20th century
Citation:
Claude Williams Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0909
See more items in:
Claude Williams Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0909
Additional Online Media:

Maceo Jefferson Papers

Creator:
Jefferson, Yvonne Runtz  Search this
Jefferson, Maceo  Search this
Donor:
Cargill, Thomas  Search this
Cargill, Darlene Johnson  Search this
Names:
Washingtonians, The.  Search this
Extent:
8 Cubic feet (26 boxes)
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Hymnals
Programs
Correspondence
Legal records
Marriage certificates
Business records
78 rpm records
Passports
Sheet music
Music
Photographs
Contracts
Clippings
Birth certificates
Date:
1800s-1974
Scope and Contents:
The collection documents the life and career of jazz musician, arranger, songwriter, and bandleader Maceo Jefferson. It includes biographical documents such as birth and marriaige certificates and passports; letters, mostly relating to the music business and including carbon copies of letters sent by Jefferson; photographs, many inscribed, including photographs of performers from the early jazz era; a hymnal used by Jefferson; several pieces of published sheet music written by Jefferson; concert programs, including a hand-made one for a concert given inside a Nazi internment camp where Jefferson was detained for two years; lyrics to songs; some business records, many in French; legal records; recordings, including 78 rpm records; and music manuscripts, which comprise roughly three fourths of the collection. Additionally, Jefferson's wife, Yvonne Runtz Jefferson, was a costume designer, and there are photographs relating to her work in the collection.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into seven series.

Series 1: Personal Papers, 1891-1978, undated

Series 2: Correspondence, 1909-1976, undated

Series 3: Business Records and Performance Materials, 1932-1971, undated

Series 4: Legal Records, 1920s-1970s, undated

Series 5: Music Manuscripts, Published Sheet Music, and Folios, 1891-1972, undated

Subseries 5.1: Jefferson Compositions, 1920-1972, undated

Subseries 5.2: Compositions by Oother Composers, 1921-1971, undated

Subseries 5.3: Sheet Music, 1891-1970, undated

Subseries 5.4: Folios, Songbooks and Instruction, 1870s-1950s

Series 6: Photographs, 1800s-1960s

Series 7: Recordings, undated
Biographical / Historical:
Maceo Buchannan Jefferson was born on July 14, 1898 in Beaufort, South Carolina to Reverend Paul William Jefferson and Julia Rose Singleton. The oldest of five children, Jefferson showed an early aptitude for both banjo and guitar. He enlisted in the Navy on April 6, 1917 and was released from service on December 24, 1919. According to the 1920 census, Jefferson lived in Portsmouth Monroe Ward, Portsmouth, Virginia as a laborer with the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad. During this time, he played with Gus Perry at the Limelight's Nightclub. Jefferson then moved to Norfolk, Virginia for two years before moving to Washington, DC. As noted in his resume, while in the District of Columbia Jeffersone, he performed with the J. R. Branson Orchestra in a dance hall on U Street and the Roscoe Lee Orchestra at the Better Old Club. He married Riccolin E. Sutherland on October 21, 1922. Jefferson spent another two years in a nightclub in Washington, where he met Duke Ellington and joined his band, the Washingtonians. By early 1923, Jefferson had joined Wilber Sweatman, and worked in a succession of nightclubs and theaters in New York, Brooklyn, and New Jersey. He also accompanied singer Ethel Waters on a recording session for Columbia Records. In 1926, he joined the Lew Leslie Blackbirds Plantation Orchestra and went on a European tour in 1927 with the band and singer Florence Mills. Jefferson joined Leon Abbey's band in 1928, and eventually relocated to Paris, France. During this time, he performed with several jazz bands and musicians including Louis Armstrong before returning to New York where he played in Willie "The Lion" Smith's band and toured with W. C. Handy. The late 1930s and 1940s found him back in France where he married a Parisian woman, Yvonne Josephine Stephanie Runtz, in 1937. Jefferson toured with different bands in France, England, Scotland, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, and Italy until the end of May 1940. In June, he drove a truck for the American Hospital of Paris to the base hospital of Angouleme for which he received no salary. From August to November, Jefferson worked for the American Red Cross as a driver transporting the sick and, injured, and distributing medicine and food. Jefferson resumed his musical career arranging, composing, copying, and playing music from December 1940-December 1941. His career took a dramatic turn when the Nazis, under the Vichy government, imprisoned him, three days after the United States declared war on Germany. Jefferson spent twenty-seven months in prison camp stalag 122 in Compiegne, France and while imprisoned led an orchestra. In 1944, the Nazis released and sent Jefferson back to the United States where he lived in New York before relocating to Bridgeport, Connecticut. In the latter part of his life and musical career, he focused on composition and developing new arrangements for old songs. He never fully regained his health after his time in the concentration camp. Jefferson died on June 15, 1974 in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Related Materials:
Materials in the Archives Center

Duke Ellington Collection (AC0301)

Duncan Schiedt Jazz Collection (AC1323)

W. C. Handy Collection (AC0132)

Gottlieb and Bodansky Family Papers (AC1245)
Provenance:
Donated to the Archives Center in 2015 by Jefferson's grand-nephew Thomas Cargill and his wife Darlene Johnson Cargill.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
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.
Topic:
World War, 1939-1945  Search this
Music -- 20th century  Search this
Concentration camps -- France  Search this
Composers  Search this
Jazz musicians  Search this
Banjoists  Search this
Composers -- 20th century  Search this
Genre/Form:
Hymnals
Programs -- Concerts -- 20th century
Correspondence -- 20th century
Legal records -- 20th century
Marriage certificates
Business records -- 20th century
78 rpm records
Passports
Sheet music -- 20th century
Music -- Manuscripts
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints -- 20th century
Contracts -- 20th century
Clippings -- 20th century
Birth certificates
Citation:
Maceo Jefferson Papers, 1898-1974, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.1370
See more items in:
Maceo Jefferson Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-1370
Additional Online Media:

Jack Siefert Woody Herman Collection

Performer:
Herman, Woodrow Charles "Woody", -1987  Search this
Collector:
Siefert, Jack William, 1918-  Search this
Extent:
16 Cubic feet
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Posters
Correspondence
Photographs
Date:
1913-1990.
Scope and Contents:
Sound recordings, business records, photographs, correspondence, and concert posters documenting the career of Woodrow Charles "Woody" Herman.
The Jack Siefert/Woody Herman Collection includes manuscript materials, photographs, open-reel audio tapes, cassettes, CDs, audio discs and videos documenting the career of Woody Herman. The collection is organized into six series as follows:

Series 1: Correspondence, 1969-1988 Includes a few letters to Woody Herman, but the bulk of the correspondence is to or from Jack Siefert.

Series 2: Photographs, circa 1920 - 1987

The photographs are divided into 5 subseries (family, in performance, friends and colleagues, publicity, and miscellaneous) and arranged chronologically within each subseries. This series includes original and copy prints.

Series 3: Business Records, circa 1946 – 1990

Consists of 3 subseries (Misc. Business Papers, Publicity and Programs, and Itineraries) with the bulk of the materials documenting performance schedules and itineraries. The post-1987 materials include programs and announcements for tributes to Woody Herman.

Series 4: Clippings, 1945 – 1990s

Magazine and newspaper articles about Woody Herman and his various bands.

Series 5: Ephemera

Includes several cartoons and Herman's entry in 'Who's Who in America." Also Jack Siefert's log to the audio materials titled Musical History of Woody Herman.

Series 6: Audio-Visual Materials

Commercial audio disc recordings, reference recordings and transcription discs, ¼" open-reel audio tapes, audio cassettes, CDs and videos.
Arrangement:
Divided into 6 series. Chronologically arranged.
Biographical / Historical:
Woodrow Charles "Woody" Herman was born in Milwaukee Wisconsin on May 16, 1913. He became involved with music at an early age, working in vaudeville and becoming a professional saxophone player at 15.

He joined Isham Jones in 1934 and then when Jones' group disbanded in 1936, Herman used several former Jones musicians to form the core for Herman's first band, the Woody Herman Orchestra. This group was known for….

Renamed Woody Herman and his Herd in 1943, the group was heavily influenced by Duke Ellington. The first Herd's music was admired for its swinging arrangements. Herman disbanded this group in 1946 for family reasons, but reformed the band in 1947 as the Second Herd.

Although considered an excellent musician, Herman's talent as a organizer ensured his place in the history of American popular music. He had a rare ability to assemble musicians to create bands with distinctive and, ultimately, popular sounds.
Provenance:
Collection donated by J. William Siefert, August 13, 1998.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
Copyright restrictions. Contact staff for information.
Topic:
Jazz -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Musicians -- 20th century  Search this
Genre/Form:
Posters -- 20th century
Correspondence -- 20th century
Photographs -- 20th century
Citation:
Jack Siefert Woody Herman Collection, 1913-1990, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0659
See more items in:
Jack Siefert Woody Herman Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0659
Additional Online Media:

Benny Carter Collection

Creator:
Carter, Benny, 1907-1997  Search this
Extent:
67.5 Cubic feet (182 boxes, 3 oversize folders)
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Awards
Clippings
Scrapbooks
Scores
Posters
Photographs
Music
Manuscripts
Date:
1928-2000
Scope and Contents:
The majority of the material in the Benny Carter Collection is dated from the late 1920s through the later half of the 1990s. Donated to the Smithsonian Institution in December, 2000, the bulk of the collection is comprised of original music manuscripts (full scores and parts), band books, and published sheet music from Benny Carter's prolific career as a jazz composer and musician. The collection also contains newspaper clippings, correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, awards, posters, commercial sound recordings, a few jazz related journals and some personal ephemera documenting Benny Carter's personal life and career as a composer, arranger, bandleader, trumpeter and alto saxophonist.
Arrangement:
The collection is organized into six series

Series 1: Music Manuscripts, 1928-1990s

Series 2: Newspaper Clippings and Magazine Clippings, 1928-2000

Series 3: Photographs, 1928-1998

Series 4: Awards and Proclamations, 1961-1999

Series 5: Sound Recordings, 1958-1989

Series 6: Ephemera, 1952-2000

Series 7: 2004 Photographs Addenda

Series 8: 2004 Ephemera Addenda

Series 9: 2004 Magazine and Newsclippings Addenda

Series 10: 2004 Awards and Proclamations Addenda
Biography:
Bennett Lester Carter, better known as "Benny," was born on August 8, 1907 in New York City. The Carter's were quite a musical family - - Benny's father played guitar, his mother played piano, and a cousin, Theodore ("Cuban") Bennett, played the trumpet professionally - - so it was no surprise that Benny also became a musician, beginning his musical training at the age of ten. He first played the trumpet and then C-melody saxophone before changing to alto saxophone, which became his chief instrument.

Benny Carter began his professional career around the young age of seventeen, when he joined a local group as an alto saxophonist. He subsequently played with various other groups, including Billy Paige and Louis Deppe, until attending Wilberforce College in Ohio to study seminary in 1925. Finding music more enticing than theology, Carter left college and instead toured with Horace Henderson's Wilberforce Collegians intermittently between 1925 and 1928.

Carter's musical talents began attracting widespread attention in 1930 during a year-long stint with Fletcher Henderson's orchestra, to which he contributed many important arrangements. As word of his talent continued to spread, Carter played with such notables as William "Chick" Webb (1931) and served as musical director of William McKinney's Cotton Pickers (1931-1932) in Detroit. Upon returning to New York in 1932, Carter formed his own highly-respected orchestra. In its two years of existence, the Benny Carter Orchestra included several major pioneers in early swing style, such as Bill Coleman, Dicky Wells, Ben Webster, Chu Berry, Teddy Wilson, and Sid Catlett. Months after playing the inaugural show in New York City at Harlem's Apollo Theater in 1934, Carter disbanded the orchestra and, one year later, sailed to Europe to spread jazz across the globe.

After arriving in Europe, Carter first performed with Willie Lewis in Paris, France, and then, during 1936 -1938, served as staff arranger for the BBC Dance Orchestra in London, England. As he continued to tour throughout his stay in Europe (even leading his own interracial band in the Netherlands in 1937), he met with even greater success than in the United States. By this point, Carter was well-known for his arrangements and for his alto saxophone and clarinet playing. He was also recognized for his talented singing and tenor saxophone, trumpet, and piano playing.

In 1938, Carter sailed back to the United States and formed a new orchestra which regularly played at Harlem's Savoy Theater until 1940. He toured the United States during the next few years, both with small groups and with his big band, finally settling in Los Angeles in 1945. There he continued to lead his band (band members included modern jazz greats such as Miles Davis and J. J. Johnson), but turned increasingly to writing and arranging music for films and television productions. His film scores include Stormy Weather (1943), A Man Called Adam (1966), Red Sky at Morning(1970), and Buck and the Preacher (1972). "Ironside," "Bob Hope Presents," and the Alfred Hitchcock show were among the television programs for which he wrote music.

Carter had stopped performing with a regular orchestra by 1946, but he remained active up through the 1960s both by playing at Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic shows and with Duke Ellington, among others. He also continued to arrange music for various singers, including Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Peggy Lee, and Louis Armstrong. During the 1970s he began performing again, touring in Europe, Asia and Australia; in 1976 he toured the Middle East under sponsorship of the U.S. Department of State. Carter also became involved with academia, serving as visiting professor or workshop consultant at universities such as Yale, Cornell, Princeton, and Duke. He remained active in the music business well into the 1990s and still resides in California.

Benny Carter is regarded as "one of the most versatile musicians of his time." As a musician, he made major contributions to several areas of jazz and, as an arranger, he helped to construct the big-band swing style. He has received many awards throughout his career. The more prestigious honors included a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and a 1994 Grammy Award for the album "Elegy in Blue."

Footnotes

[1 ] Biographical note derived from Benny Carter: A Life in American Music, by Monroe and Edward Berger, and James Patrick (New York: Scarecrow Press and the Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University, 1982).

[2] J. Bradford Robinson, "John Kirby," The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, vol 1, 1986: 653-54.
Provenance:
The Benny Carter Collection was donated by Bennett Carter in December 2000.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
Reproduction restricted due to copyright.
Topic:
African American musicians  Search this
Jazz -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Genre/Form:
Awards
Clippings -- 20th century
Scrapbooks -- 20th century
Scores
Posters -- 20th century
Photographs -- 20th century
Music -- Manuscripts
Manuscripts -- Music -- 20th century
Citation:
Benny Carter Collection, 1928-2000, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0757
See more items in:
Benny Carter Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0757
Additional Online Media:

Milt Gabler Papers

Creator:
Armstrong, Lucille  Search this
Bechet, Sidney, 1897-1959  Search this
Armstrong, Louis, 1900-1971  Search this
Condon, Eddie, 1905-1973  Search this
Calloway, Cab, 1907-  Search this
Commodore Records.  Search this
Feather, Leonard  Search this
Gabler, Milt  Search this
Davis, Sammy, 1925-  Search this
Decca (recording company).  Search this
Granz, Norman  Search this
Hawkins, Coleman  Search this
Kaempfert, Bert, 1923-1980  Search this
Ives, Burl, 1909-  Search this
Holiday, Billie, 1915-1959  Search this
Norvo, Red, 1908-1999  Search this
Mills Brothers.  Search this
Krupa, Gene, 1909-1973  Search this
Kelly, Peck, 1898-  Search this
Williams, Cootie  Search this
United Hot Clubs of America.  Search this
Stewart, Rex (William), Jr., 1907-1967 (cornetist)  Search this
Jordan, Louis, 1908-1975  Search this
Goodman, Benny (Benjamin David), 1909-1986  Search this
Names:
Crosby, Bing, 1904-1977  Search this
Goodman, Benny (Benjamin David), 1909-1986  Search this
Extent:
25 Cubic feet (75 boxes )
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Legal records
Magazines (periodicals)
Catalogs
Correspondence
Financial records
Music
Bank statements
Autobiographies
Articles
Tax records
Business records
Newsletters
Photographs
Recordings
Sheet music
Date:
1895-2001
Summary:
The collection documents Gabler's involvement in the recording industry and the evolution of Commodore Records. The documentation begins with the Commodore Radio Shop through its evolution to Commodore Music Shop. The collection also includes the beginnings of the Commodore record label and information detailing Gabler's 30 years as staff producer and later Vice-President in Charge of Artists and Repertoire at Decca Records (1941-1974). There is a small collection of black and white photographs chronicling the early years at the Commodore Music Shop, as well as jam sessions, often held at Jimmy Ryan's on 52nd Street. The collection also includes a vast array of audio recordings (mainly audiodiscs).
Scope and Contents:
Papers documenting Gabler's life and career, including: correspondence with family members, friends and people in the music business such as Sammy Davis, Jr. and Lucille Armstrong (Louis' wife); Gabler's writings, including an autobiography and numerous articles; music manuscripts and sheet music, the lyrics for some of which were written by Gabler, and other compositions written by others, including Red Norvo, Eddie Condon and others; legal and financial records, including royalty statements, tax papers and banking records; business records for Commodore and Decca, including correspondence from persons such as Norman Granz, Burl Ives, and Leonard Feather; Commodore and Decca legal records including licensing and trademark documents; publicity materials; production records, such as production logs and liner notes; printed materials such as catalogs, newsletters, magazines, and periodicals; papers relating to Gabler's affiliation with Bert Kaempfert, including correspondence, sheet music and lyrics, and production records; photographs of Gabler and his family and of numerous others in the music industry, including Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis Jr., Bert Kaempfert, the Mills Brothers, Rex Stewart, Cootie Williams, Benny Goodman, Coleman Hawkins, Gene Krupa, Louis Jordan, Peck Kelly, Sidney Bechet, Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, and numerous others, many taken in the studio during recording sessions; and audio recordings.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into twenty-seven series.

Series 1: Personal Correspondence

Series 2: Writings by Milt Gabler

Series 3: Music Manuscripts and Sheet Music

Series 4: Personal Financial and Legal Records

Series 5: Commodore and Decca Correspondence and Gabler Rolodex

Series 6: Commodore and Decca Legal Records

Series 7: Commodore and Decca Financial

Series 8: Publicity

Series 9: Commodore and Decca Projects

Series 10: Production Records

Series 11: Commodore General Correspondence

Series 12: Commodore Financial Records

Series 13: Commodore Legal Records

Series 14: Commodore Production Records

Series 15: Commodore, Various Projects and Topical Files

Series 16: Commodore Publicity Records

Series 17: Business Cards

Series 18: Catalogs

Series 19: Newsletters

Series 20: Serials

Series 21: Monographs

Series 22: Newsclippings, Periodical Articles, and Advertisements

Series 23: Correspondence with Organizations

Series 24: Organization Membership cards

Series 25: Bert Kaempfert

Series 26: Photographs

Series 27: Audio Discs
Biographical / Historical:
Milt Gabler was born in Harlem, New York on May 20, 1911. He began managing his father's radio and small appliance store, the Commodore Radio Shop, while still a teen. Gabler convinced his father to expand the business and sell audio recordings. Soon Gabler pioneered the concept of marketing reissues by leasing discontinued masters from various record companies (mainly Victor, Columbia, Vocalion, and Brunswick). Eventually the Gablers changed the name of the family business to the Commodore Music Shop. By the early 1930's Gabler founded the first mail order record label, United Hot Clubs of America, to reach an even greater audience of jazz enthusiasts. In 1935 Gabler began publicizing the music shop by staging a series of Sunday afternoon jam sessions at several different recording studios along 52nd Street. Later the jam sessions moved to the nearby jazz club, Jimmy Ryan's.

In 1938 Gabler founded the Commodore music label. It was the first American recording label created exclusively for jazz music. A recording session for Eddie Condon's Windy City Seven at Brunswick Studios was the first original Commodore recording. In 1939 Gabler recorded Billie Holiday's controversial "Strange Fruit", which became Commodore's first major commercial success. Other notable Commodore artists include Sidney Bechet, Jonah Jones, Peck Kelley, Red Norvo, Ralph Sutton, and Teddy Wilson. Gabler began as a staff producer at Decca Records in 1941 and worked with artists from many different musical genres: Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Brenda Lee, the Weavers, and Louis Jordan, among others. Gabler also began writing lyrics in collaboration with Decca songwriters/composers. In 1954 Gabler produced the first recordings by Bill Haley and the Comets. In addition, Gabler continued to run the Commodore recording label until 1957. Gabler also managed the Commodore Music Shop until 1958, when he began working full-time at Decca as Vice-President in Charge of Artists and Repertoire. Throughout the 1960's Gabler served as lyricist in a number of collaborations with Bert Kaempfert and Herbert Rehbein. Gabler retained his influential position at Decca until 1974 when the corporation moved to the West Coast. Through the Decca years, Gabler had saved the Commodore masters and in 1974 began to reissue the recordings through Atlantic, Columbia Special Products, and finally United Hot Clubs of America. In 1987 Mosaic Records also began to reissue the entire catalog of Commodore recordings.

In the last decades of his life Gabler remained active in a number of professional organizations, most notably the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which bestowed upon him a Grammy lifetime achievement award in 1991. Gabler died in New York on July 20, 2001.
Provenance:
Collection donated by Milt Gabler estate, through Lee Gabler.
Restrictions:
The collection is open for research use. Some materials restricted; but most are available for unrestricted research access on site by appointment.

Several items of personal correspondence contained private medical information about living individuals. The originals were removed and will remain sealed until 2030. Copies with the sensitive information redacted are available for research use in the collection.

Access to audio recordings for which no reference copy exists requires special arrangements with the audiovisual archivist. Please ask the reference archivist for additional information.
Rights:
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.
Topic:
Music publishers  Search this
Jazz musicians -- United States  Search this
Jazz -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Composition (Music)  Search this
Music trade  Search this
Music -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Musicians -- United States  Search this
Genre/Form:
Legal records
Magazines (periodicals) -- 20th century
Catalogs
Correspondence -- 20th century
Financial records
Music -- Manuscripts
Bank statements
Autobiographies
Articles
Tax records
Business records -- 20th century
Newsletters -- 20th century
Photographs -- 20th century
Recordings
Sheet music -- 20th century
Citation:
Milt Gabler Papers, 1927-2001, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0849
See more items in:
Milt Gabler Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0849
Additional Online Media:

Bobby Tucker Papers

Donor:
Tucker, Irma  Search this
Tucker, Irma  Search this
Author:
Tucker, Bobby, 1923-2008  Search this
Creator:
Eckstine, Billy  Search this
Jones, Quincy, 1933-  Search this
Extent:
36 Cubic feet (88 boxes)
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Orchestrations
Programs
Sheet music
Clippings
Photographs
Date:
1883-2007, undated
Summary:
The collection documents the life and musical career of Robert "Bobby" Tucker. The collection particularly emphasizes Tucker's close collaboration with Billy Eckstine over a forty-year period from approximately 1949-1990, and includes original orchestrations of arrangements by Tucker and other arrangers, a complete set of commercial recordings by Eckstine for which Tucker served as arranger, and ephemeral material including photographs, concert programs and news clippings.
Scope and Contents:
The collection primarily documents the close collaboration between Tucker and Billy Eckstine over a forty-year period, circa 1949-1990. It articulates the growth and development of a working jazz master—Eckstine—and the diversity of the musical repertoire he performed as he cultivated new audiences throughout his career. The collection includes original orchestrations of arrangements by Tucker and other well regarded arrangers such as Billy Beyers, Quincy Jones, Bob Enevoldsen, Marty Paich, Sammy Nestico, and Artie Butler. All of these materials found their way into Eckstine's recording and concert repertoire, which is evidenced by the approximately twenty cubic feet of sheet music arrangements that form the bulk of the collection. They illustrate the pivotal role Tucker played as the arranger, who interpreted and adapted original compositions to suit Eckstine's vocal style and capabilities, resulting in one of the longest-running successful collaborations in modern American musical history.

In addition, the sheet music contains Tucker's arrangements for Quincy Jones's music score for the 1978 film The Wiz.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into three series.

Series 1: Professional Materials, 1883-1992, undated

Subseries 1.1: Music Scores, undated

Subseries 1.2: Published Sheet Music, 1883-1992

Series 2: Other Materials, 1940-2007, undated

Series 3: Audiovisual Materials, undated
Biographical / Historical:
Robert Nathaniel "Bobby" Tucker Jr. was born in Morristown, New Jersey, January 8, 1923 and died there on April 12, 2007. He was an accomplished pianist, arranger, and accompanist. He began performing at the age of fourteen and later studied in New York at the Institute of Musical Art. In 1946, he became accompanist to jazz vocalist Mildred Bailey and later that year, to renowned jazz vocalist Billie Holiday, with whom he remained until 1949 and with whom he had a strong and enduring, platonic friendship. Tucker continued to make recordings with Holiday into the 1950s.

Beginning in 1949, Tucker embarked on a lifetime collaboration as accompanist and musical director for the great African American balladeer and recording artist Billy "Mr. B" Eckstine. After leading a highly-acclaimed band from 1944-1947, Eckstine returned to a career as a solo singer, becoming the country's most popular vocalist in 1949-1950 and signing a lucrative five-year contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Incorporated (MGM). Although his popularity waned after 1951, he continued to play in major nightclubs in the United States and abroad for the next several decades and to release several popular albums. As his piano accompanist for over forty years, Tucker helped build and sustain the singer's career, reinventing Eckstine as the nation's musical tastes changed, and the music industry evolved. During his stint with Eckstine, Tucker worked on concerts—planning, arranging music, transcribing, and transposing works for performances; on recordings—preparing written arrangements, working integrally with recording companies. Engagements included recordings and performances with the Count Basie Orchestra; recordings under the direction of Quincy Jones; performances in Las Vegas; and band tours of Europe, Australia, and Japan.

Tucker was a renowned piano accompanist, and while working for Eckstine he was eagerly sought out by other singers, including Johnny Hartman, Lena Horne, Tony Bennett, and Sarah Vaughan. He also collaborated with other jazz accompanists such as Jimmy Jones, Jimmy Rowles, and John Malachi. In his autobiography, Quincy Jones says that Tucker inspired him to begin studying music after they met in Seattle, while Jones was touring with Billie Holiday. Jones attributed all of the success he garnered in his career to the core skills he developed as a result of Tucker's inspiration. Tucker worked with Jones to arrange and conduct the music for the 1978 film The Wiz, which received an Academy Award nomination for best original music score.
Related Materials:
Materials in the Archives Center

Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program Collection (AC0808)

Contains an oral history interview with Bobby Tucker, February 27-28, 2004
Provenance:
Donated to the Archives Center in 2008 by Tucker's widow, Irma J. Tucker.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
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.
Topic:
Musical arrangers  Search this
Music -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Pianists  Search this
Musicians -- 20th century  Search this
Genre/Form:
Orchestrations
Programs -- Concerts
Sheet music
Clippings
Photographs -- 20th century
Citation:
Bobby Tucker Papers, 1883-1990, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.1141
See more items in:
Bobby Tucker Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-1141
Additional Online Media:

Viktor Schreckengost and 20th-century design / Henry Adams

Author:
Adams, Henry 1949-  Search this
Schreckengost, Viktor 1906-2008  Search this
Cleveland Museum of Art  Search this
Subject:
Schreckengost, Viktor 1906-  Search this
Physical description:
xvii, 174 p. : ill. (chiefly col.) ; 28 cm
Type:
Biography
Exhibitions
Place:
Ohio
Cleveland
United States
Date:
2000
C2000
20th century
Topic:
Designers  Search this
Industrial design--History  Search this
Design--History  Search this
Art  Search this
Call number:
N6537.S362 A4 2000
N40.1.S385 A33 2000
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_613295

Ruth Ellington Collection of Duke Ellington Materials

Creator:
Ellington, Ruth (Ruth Ellington Boatwright), 1915-  Search this
Names:
Tempo Music, Inc.  Search this
Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974  Search this
Extent:
33 Cubic feet (77 boxes, 3 oversize folders)
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Business records
Correspondence
Audiotapes
Music
Photographs
Date:
1923–1992
Summary:
The collection consists of correspondence, appointment books, business records, music manuscripts, sound recordings, photographs, and ephemera documenting the activities of Duke Ellington and the management of Tempo Music, Incorporated. There is a small amount of material relating to the Ellingotn family.
Scope and Contents:
The Ruth Ellington Collection of Duke Ellington Materials includes music manuscripts (circa 1930-1981), sound recordings, Duke and Ruth Ellington's business and personal correspondence (1942-1991), business records covering the years 1923-1988, performances and programs covering the years 1951-1989, numerous awards and honors to Ellington and the orchestra, and personal papers relating to the Ellington family. Also among the materials are minutes of business meetings, letters, and newspaper clippings relating to the Duke Ellington Society in New York city, the certificate of incorporation and invitations for the Ellington Cancer Center, and slides, film, and home videos. The collection is arranged into eleven series.
Arrangement:
Divided into eleven series:

Series 1: Music Manuscripts, Scripts and Compositional Materials, 1930-1981, undated

Subseries 1.1: Music Manuscripts, undated

Subseries 1.2: Published Books, 1943-1986, undated

Subseries 1.3: Oversize Materials, undated

Subseries 1.4: Music Manuscript Notebooks and Untitled Music, undated

Subseries 1.5: Tempo Music, Incorporated Copyright Sheets of Non-Ellington Material, undated

Subseries 1.6: Uncopyrighted Submissions, 1958-2002, undated

Subseries 1.7: Notes, Scripts and Compositions, 1958-1969, undated

Series 2: Business Records, 1923-1988, undated

Series 3: Performance Materials, 1951-1989, undated

Series 4: Publicity, 1935-1992, undated

Series 5: Awards and Recognition, 1936-1989, undated

Series 6: Correspondence, 1942-1991, undated

Series 7: Photographs, 1937-1990, undated

Series 8: Family Papers, 1911-1981, undated

Series 9: Other Artists, 1955-1986, undated

Series 10: Harry Carney Materials, 1938-1959

Series 11: Audiovisual Materials, circa 1946-1970

Subseries 11.1: Sound Recordings, circa 1946-1970

Sub-subseries 11.1.1: Duke Ellington Concerts

Sub-subseries 11.1.2: Duke Ellington Volumes 1 through 58

Sub-subseries 11.1.3: Duke Ellington and His Orchestra

Sub-subseries 11.1.4: Duke Ellington Jazz Society Guest Talks

Sub-subseries 11.1.5: Interviews

Sub-subseries 11.1.6: Miscellaneous

Sub-subseries 11.1.7: Non-Ellington Materials

Sub-subseries 11.1.8: 16" Transcription Discs

Subseries 11.2: Moving Images, 1929 - 1970
Biographical / Historical:
Born in 1915, Ruth Dorothea Ellington Boatwright was the sister and only sibling of Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington. Sheltered and doted upon, she was almost sixteen years younger than her brother. She attended elementary and junior high schools in the Washington Metropolitan area and finished her basic schooling in New York City where the family moved in the early 1930s. Her mother, Daisy, died there in 1935, followed by her father, J. E. in 1937. Sometime after those life altering events, Ms. Ellington graduated from the New College program at Columbia University with a degree in biology.

In 1941, Duke Ellington established Tempo Music, and surprised his sister Ruth, by installing her as president of the company. He had a strong desire to maintain control of his own publishing, television, and recording rights, and after his sister's graduation, Duke felt that she could assist in accomplishing this goal.

Ruth's duties at Tempo included signing contracts, arranging some travel at Duke's request, and, most importantly, keeping Duke's music copyrighted. According to her own interview statement, she never arranged bookings. Other interests included hosting a Sunday salon for musicians, appearing at and listening to recording studio sessions once or twice a year, and keeping in touch with the older band members' wives. The older band members (i. e., Johnny Hodges, Harry Carney, Otto Hardwick, and Arthur Wetsol) along with the earlier singers (Ivie Anderson, Joya Sherrill, Marie Cole, and Kay Davis) were like family to Ruth.

In the 1950's, she was host of a radio program on WLIB in New York on which she interviewed guests including the writer Ralph Ellison.

Ruth Ellington's first marriage to Daniel James, a journalist and political scientist, produced two sons Michael and Stephen James. This marriage ended in divorce and she later married McHenry Boatwright, an operatic baritone. Boatright died in 1994.

Ruth was active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She was a founder of the jazz ministry of St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Manhattan and a friend of the first designated jazz pastor, the Reverend John Garcia Gensel.

After Duke's death in 1974, Ruth maintained Tempo until 1995 when she sold fifty one percent of the company to a New York publishing firm, Music Sales. Ruth Dorothea Ellington Boatwright died in 2004 at the age of 88 in Manhattan. She was survived by her two sons.
Provenance:
The collection was donated to the National Museum of American History in 1991. A second set of materials was received from Ruth Ellington Boatwright in 1993.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research. Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves. Copyright restrictions. Contact staff for information. Only reference copies of audiovisual materials are available for use.
Rights:
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.
Topic:
Jazz musicians -- United States  Search this
Jazz  Search this
Music -- 20th century  Search this
Musicians -- United States  Search this
Genre/Form:
Business records -- 20th century
Correspondence -- 1930-1950
Audiotapes
Music
Photographs -- 20th century
Citation:
Ruth Ellington Collection, 1923-1992, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0415
See more items in:
Ruth Ellington Collection of Duke Ellington Materials
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0415
Additional Online Media:

Duke Ellington Collection

Collector:
Musical History, Division of (NMAH, SI)  Search this
Musical History, Division of (NMAH, SI)  Search this
Creator:
Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974  Search this
Names:
Duke Ellington Orchestra  Search this
Washingtonians, The.  Search this
Ellington, Mercer Kennedy, 1919-1996 ((musician))  Search this
Strayhorn, Billy (William Thomas), 1915-1967  Search this
Extent:
400 Cubic feet
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Phonograph records
Papers
Photographic prints
Posters
Sound recordings
Scrapbooks
Music
Clippings
Awards
Audiotapes
Place:
New York (N.Y.) -- 20th century
Harlem (New York, N.Y.) -- 20th century
Washington (D.C.) -- 20th century
Date:
1903 - 1989
Summary:
The collection documents Duke Ellington's career primarily through orchestrations (scores and parts), music manuscripts, lead sheets, transcriptions, and sheet music. It also includes concert posters, concert programs, television, radio, motion picture and musical theater scripts, business records, correspondence, awards, as well as audiotapes, audiodiscs, photographs, tour itineraries, newspaper clippings, magazines, caricatures, paintings, and scrapbooks.
Scope and Contents:
Dating approximately from the time Duke Ellington permanently moved to New York City in 1923 to the time the material was transferred to the Smithsonian Institution in 1988, the bulk of the material in the Duke Ellington Collection is dated from 1934-1974 and comprises sound recordings, original music manuscripts and published sheet music, hand-written notes, correspondence, business records, photographs, scrapbooks, news clippings, concert programs, posters, pamphlets, books and other ephemera. These materials document Ellington's contributions as composer, musician, orchestra leader, and an ambassador of American music and culture abroad. In addition, the materials paint a picture of the life of a big band maintained for fifty years and open a unique window through which to view an evolving American society.

The approximate four hundred cubic feet of archival materials have been processed and organized into sixteen series arranged by type of material. Several of the series have been divided into subseries allowing additional organization to describe the content of the material. For example, Series 6, Sound Recordings, is divided into four subseries: Radio and Television Interviews, Concert Performances, Studio Dates and Non-Ellington Recordings. Each series has its own scope and content note describing the material and arrangement (for example; Series 10, Magazines and Newspaper Articles, is organized into two groups, foreign and domestic, and arranged chronologically within each group). A container list provides folder titles and box numbers.

The bulk of the material is located in Series 1, Music Manuscripts, and consists of compositions and arrangements by Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn and other composers. Series 6, Sound Recordings also provides a record of the performance of many of these compositions. The materials in Series 2, Performances and Programs, Series 3, Business Records, Series 8, Scrapbooks, Series 9, Newspaper Clippings, Series 11, Publicity and Series 12, Posters provide documentation of specific performances by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra. Ellington was a spontaneous and prolific composer as evidenced by music, lyrical thoughts, and themes for extended works and plays captured on letterhead stationery in Series 3, Business Records, in the margin notes of individual books and pamphlets in Series 14, Religious Materials and Series 15, Books, and in the hand-written notes in Series 5, Personal Correspondence and Notes.

During its fifty-year lifespan, Duke Ellington and His Orchestra were billed under various names including The Washingtonians, The Harlem Footwarmers and The Jungle Band. The soloists were informally called "the band", and Series 3 includes salary statements, IOU's, receipts and ephemera relating to individual band members. Series 1, Music Manuscripts contains the soloists' parts and includes "band books" of several soloists (for example; Harry Carney and Johnny Hodges) and numerous music manuscripts of Billy Strayhorn. The changing role of Strayhorn from arranger hired in 1938 to Ellington's main collaborator and composer of many well-known titles for Duke Ellington and His Orchestra including "Take The A' Train" and "Satin Doll" can be traced in these music manuscripts. Series 7, Photographs and Series 2, Performances and Programs contain many images of the band members and Strayhorn. This Collection also documents the business history of Duke Ellington and His Orchestra. Series 3, Business Records contains correspondence on letterhead stationery and Series 11, Publicity contains promotional material from the various booking agencies, professional companies, and public relations firms that managed the Orchestra.

The materials in the Duke Ellington Collection provide insight into public and institutional attitudes towards African Americans in mid-twentieth-century America. The business records in Series 3 beginning in 1938 and published sheet music in Series 1 depict Duke Ellington's progression from an African-American musician who needed "legitimization" by a white publisher, Irving Mills, to a businessmen who established his own companies including Tempo Music and Duke Ellington, Incorporated to control his copyright and financial affairs. Programs from the segregated Cotton Club in Series 2, Performances And Programs and contracts with no-segregation clauses in Series 3: Business Records further illustrate racial policies and practices in this time period. The public shift in perception of Duke Ellington from a leader of an exotic "Jungle Band" in the 1930s to a recipient of the Congressional Medal Of Freedom in 1970 is evidenced in Series 2, Performances And Programs, Series 12, Posters, Series 7, Photographs and Series 13, Awards. Reviews and articles reflecting Ellington's evolving status are also documented in Series 8, Newspaper Clippings, Series 9, Scrapbooks, Series 10, Newspaper and Magazine Articles.

The materials in the Duke Ellington Collection reflect rapid technological changes in American society from 1923-1982. Sound recordings in Series 6 range from 78 phonograph records of three minutes duration manufactured for play on Victrolas in monaural sound to long-playing (LP) phonograph records produced for stereo record players. Television scripts in Series 4, programs in Series 2 and music manuscripts (for example, Drum Is A Woman) in Series 1 demonstrate how the development of television as a means of mass communication spread the Orchestra's sound to a wider audience. The availability of commercial air travel enabled the Ellington Orchestra to extend their international performances from Europe to other continents including tours to Asia, Africa, South America and Australia and archival material from these tours is included in every series.

Series 4, Scripts and Transcripts and Series 6, Audio Recordings contain scripts and radio performances promoting the sale of United States War bonds during World War II, and Series 7, Photographs includes many images of Duke Ellington and His Orchestra's performances for military personnel revealing the impact of historic events on Duke Ellington and His Orchestra. Series 2: Programs and Performances, Series 9, Newspaper clippings and Series 8, Scrapbooks document the 1963 Far East tour aborted as a result of President John F. Kennedy's assassination.

The Duke Ellington Collection contains works by numerous twentieth-century music, literature, and art luminaries. Series 1, Music Manuscripts contains original music manuscripts of William Grant Still, Eubie Blake, Mary Lou Williams, and others. Series 4, Scripts and Transcripts contains a play by Langston Hughes, and Series 12, Posters contains many original artworks.
Arrangement:
Series 1: Music Manuscripts, circa 1930-1981, undated

Series 2: Performances and Programs, 1933-1973, undated

Series 3: Business Records, 1938-1988

Series 4: Scripts and Transcripts, 1937-1970

Series 5: Personal Correspondence and Notes, 1941-1974, undated

Series 6: Sound Recordings, 1927-1974

Series 7: Photographs, 1924-1972, undated

Series 8: Scrapbooks, 1931-1973

Series 9: Newspaper Clippings, 1939-1973, undated

Series 10: Magazine Articles and Newspaper Clippings, 1940-1974

Series 11: Publicity, 1935-1988

Series 12: Posters and Oversize Graphics, 1933-1989, undated

Series 13: Awards, 1939-1982

Series 14: Religious Material, 1928-1974

Series 15: Books, 1903-1980

Series 16: Miscellaneous, 1940-1974
Biographical / Historical:
A native of Washington, DC, Edward Kennedy Ellington was born on April 29, 1899. Edward was raised in a middle-class home in the Northwest section of Washington described by his sister Ruth--younger by sixteen years--as a "house full of love." Ellington himself wrote that his father J.E. (James Edward) raised his family "as though he were a millionaire" but Edward was especially devoted to his mother, Daisy Kennedy Ellington. In 1969, thirty-four years after his mother's death, Ellington accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom with these words, "There is nowhere else I would rather be tonight but in my mother's arms." Both his parents played the piano and Ellington began piano lessons at the age of seven, but like many boys he was easily distracted by baseball.

In his early teens, Ellington sneaked into Washington clubs and performance halls where he was exposed to ragtime musicians, including James P. Johnson, and where he met people from all walks of life. He returned in earnest to his piano studies, and at age fourteen wrote his first composition, "Soda Fountain Rag" also known as "Poodle Dog Rag." Ellington was earning income from playing music at seventeen years of age, and around this time he earned the sobriquet "Duke" for his sartorial splendor and regal air. On July 2, 1918, he married a high school sweetheart, Edna Thompson; their only child, Mercer Kennedy Ellington, was born on March 11, 1919. Duke Ellington spent the first twenty-four years of his life in Washington's culturally thriving Negro community. In this vibrant atmosphere he was inspired to be a composer and learned to take pride in his African-American heritage.

Ellington moved to New York City in 1923 to join and eventually lead a small group of transplanted Washington musicians called "The Washingtonians," which included future Ellington band members, Sonny Greer, Otto Hardwicke and "Bubber" Miley. Between 1923 and 1927, the group played at the Club Kentucky on Broadway and the ensemble increased from a quintet to a ten-piece orchestra. With stride pianist Willie "The Lion" Smith as his unofficial guide, Ellington soon became part of New York's music scene; Smith proved to be a long-lasting influence on Duke's composing and arranging direction. At the Club Kentucky, Ellington came under the tutelage of another legendary stride pianist, "Fats" Waller. Waller, a protege of Johnson and Smith, played solos during the band's breaks and also tutored Ellington who began to show progress in his compositions. In November 1924, Duke made his publishing and recording debut with "Choo Choo (I Got To Hurry Home)" released on the Blu-Disc label. In 1925, he contributed two songs to Chocolate Kiddies, an all-black revue which introduced European audiences to black American styles and performers. By this time Ellington's family, Edna and Mercer, had joined him in New York City. The couple separated in the late 1920's, but they never divorced or reconciled.

Ellington's achievements as a composer and bandleader began to attract national attention while he worked at the Cotton Club in Harlem, New York City, from 1927 to 1932. The orchestra developed a distinctive sound that displayed the non-traditional voicings of Ellington's arrangements and featured the unique talents of the individual soloists. Ellington integrated his soloists' exotic-sounding trombone growls and wah-wahs, their high-squealed trumpets, their sultry saxophone blues licks and Harlem's street rhythms into his arrangements. In the promotional material of the Cotton Club, the band was often billed as "Duke Ellington and His Jungle Band." With the success of compositions like "Mood Indigo," and an increasing number of recordings and national radio broadcasts from the Cotton Club, the band's reputation soared.

The ten years from 1932 to 1942 are considered by some major critics to represent the "golden age" for the Ellington Orchestra, but it represents just one of their creative peaks. These years did bring an influx of extraordinary new talent to the band including Jimmy Blanton on double bass, Ben Webster on tenor saxophone, and Ray Nance on trumpet, violin and vocals. During this ten year span Ellington composed several of his best known short works, including "Concerto For Cootie," "Ko-Ko," "Cotton Tail," "In A Sentimental Mood," and Jump For Joy, his first full-length musical stage revue.

Most notably, 1938 marked the arrival of Billy Strayhorn. While a teenager in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Strayhorn had already written "Lush Life," "Something To Live For" and a musical, Fantastic Rhythm. Ellington was initially impressed with Strayhorn's lyrics but realized long before Billy's composition "Take the A' Train" became the band's theme song in 1942 that Strayhorn's talents were not limited to penning clever lyrics. By 1942, "Swee' Pea" had become arranger, composer, second pianist, collaborator, and as Duke described him, "my right arm, my left arm, all the eyes in the back of my head, my brain waves in his head, and his in mine." Many Ellington/Strayhorn songs have entered the jazz canon, and their extended works are still being discovered and studied today. Strayhorn remained with the Ellington Organization until his death on May 30, 1967.

Ellington had often hinted of a work in progress depicting the struggle of blacks in America. The original script, Boola, debuted in Carnegie Hall in November of 1943, retitled Black, Brown and Beige. The performance met with mixed reviews, and although Ellington often returned to Carnegie Hall the piece was never recorded in a studio, and after 1944 was never performed in entirety again by the Ellington Orchestra. Nonetheless, it is now considered a milestone in jazz composition.

After World War II the mood and musical tastes of the country shifted and hard times befell big bands, but Ellington kept his band together. The band was not always financially self-sufficient and during the lean times Ellington used his songwriting royalties to meet the soloists' salaries. One could assign to Ellington the altruistic motive of loyalty to his sidemen, but another motivation may have been his compositional style which was rooted in hearing his music in the formative stage come alive in rehearsal. "The band was his instrument," Billy Strayhorn said, and no Ellington composition was complete until he heard the orchestra play it. Then he could fine tune his compositions, omit and augment passages, or weave a soloist's contribution into the structure of the tune.

In 1956, the American public rediscovered Duke and the band at the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island. The searing performances of tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves on "Diminuendo and Crescendo In Blue," his premiere soloist, alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges on "Jeep's Blues", and the crowd's ecstatic reaction have become jazz legend. Later that year Duke landed on the cover of Time magazine. Although Ellington had previously written music for film and television (including the short film, Black and Tan Fantasy in 1929) it wasn't until 1959 that Otto Preminger asked him to score music for his mainstream film, Anatomy of a Murder, starring Jimmy Stewart. Paris Blues in 1961, featuring box-office stars Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier in roles as American jazz musicians in Paris, followed.

Ellington's first performance overseas was in England in 1933, but the 1960s brought extensive overseas tours including diplomatic tours sponsored by the State Department. Ellington and Strayhorn composed exquisite extended works reflecting the sights and sounds of their travels, including the Far East Suite, 1966. They wrote homages to their classical influences; in 1963, they adapted Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite and celebrated Shakespeare's works with the suite Such Sweet Thunder in 1957. With Ella Fitzgerald, they continued the Norman Granz Songbook Series. Ellington also began to flex his considerable pianist skills and recorded albums with John Coltrane (1963), Coleman Hawkins (1963), Frank Sinatra, and Money Jungle (1963) with Charles Mingus and Max Roach. The First Sacred Concert debuted in San Francisco's Grace Cathedral in 1965. In his final years, Ellington's thoughts turned to spiritual themes and he added a Second (1968) and Third (1973) Concert of Sacred Music to his compositions.

In his lifetime, Duke received numerous awards and honors including the highest honor bestowed on an American civilian, the Congressional Medal Of Freedom. In 1965, Ellington was recommended for a Pulitzer Prize to honor his forty years of contribution to music but the recommendation was rejected by the board. Most likely he was disappointed, but his response at the age of sixty-six was, "Fate is being kind to me. Fate doesn't want me to be famous too young."

Ellington never rested on his laurels or stopped composing. Whenever he was asked to name his favorite compositions his characteristic reply was "the next five coming up," but to please his loyal fans Ellington always featured some of his standards in every performance. Even on his deathbed, he was composing the opera buffo called Queenie Pie.

Duke Ellington died on May 24, 1974 at seventy-five years of age. His funeral was held in New York's Cathedral of St. John The Divine; he was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery. His long-time companion Beatrice "Evie" Ellis was buried beside him after her death in 1976. He was survived by his only child, Mercer Kennedy Ellington, who not only took up the baton to lead the Duke Ellington Orchestra but assumed the task of caring for his father's papers and his legacy to the nation. Mercer Ellington died in Copenhagan, Denmark on February 8, 1996, at the age of seventy-six. Ruth Ellington Boatwright died in New York on March 6, 2004, at the age of eighty-eight. Both Mercer and Ruth were responsible for shepherding the documents and artifacts that celebrate Duke Ellington's genius and creative life to their current home in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.
Related Materials:
Materials in the Archives Center

William H. Quealy Collection of Duke Ellington Recordings (AC0296)

Rutgers University Collection of Radio Interviews about Duke Ellington (AC0328)

Duke Ellington Oral History Project (AC0368)

Duke Ellington Collection of Ephemera and realated Audiovisual Materials (AC0386)

Annual International Conference of the Duke Ellington Study Group Proceedings (AC0385)

Robert Udkoff Collection of Duke Ellington Ephemera (AC0388)

Frank Driggs Collection of Duke Ellington Photographic Prints (AC0389)

New York Chapter of the Duke Ellington Society Collection (AC390)

Earl Okin Collection of Duke Ellington Ephemera (AC0391)

William Russo Transcription and Arrangement of Duke Ellington's First Concert of Sacred Music (AC0406)

Ruth Ellington Collection of Duke Ellington Materials (AC0415)

Music manuscripts in the Ruth Ellington Collection complement the music manuscripts found in the Duke Ellington Collection.

Carter Harman Collection of Interviews with Duke Ellington (AC0422)

Betty McGettigan Collection of Duke Ellington Memorabilia (AC0494)

Dr. Theodore Shell Collection of Duke Ellington Ephemera (AC0502)

Edward and Gaye Ellington Collection of Duke Ellington Materials (AC0704)

Andrew Homzy Collection of Duke Ellington Stock Music Arrangements (AC0740)

John Gensel Collection of Duke Ellington Materials (AC0763)

Al Celley Collection of Duke Ellington Materials (AC1240)

Materials at Other Organizations

Institute of Jazz Studies

Websites

Billy Strayhorn Website

Duke Ellington Society
Separated Materials:
Artifacts related to this collection are in the Division of Culture and the Arts and include trophies, plaques, and medals. See accessions: 1989.0369; 1991.0808; 1993.0032; and 1999.0148.
Provenance:
The collection was purchased through an appropriation of Congress in 1988.
Restrictions:
The collection is open for research.
Rights:
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.

Copyright restrictions. Consult the Archives Center at archivescenter@si.edu or 202-633-3270.

Paul Ellington, executor, is represented by:

Richard J.J. Scarola, Scarola Ellis LLP, 888 Seventh Avenue, 45th Floor, New York, New York 10106. Telephone (212) 757-0007 x 235; Fax (212) 757-0469; email: rjjs@selaw.com; www.selaw.com; www.ourlawfirm.com.
Topic:
Big bands  Search this
Pianists  Search this
Composers -- 20th century  Search this
Bandsmen -- 20th century  Search this
Jazz -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Musicians -- 20th century  Search this
Music -- Performance  Search this
African American entertainers -- 20th century  Search this
African Americans -- History  Search this
Popular music -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Music -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
African American musicians  Search this
Genre/Form:
Phonograph records
Papers
Photographic prints
Posters
Sound recordings
Scrapbooks -- 20th century
Music -- Manuscripts
Clippings
Awards
Audiotapes
Citation:
Duke Ellington Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0301
See more items in:
Duke Ellington Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0301
Additional Online Media:

Bobby Short Papers

Creator:
Short, Bobby  Search this
Names:
Carlyle Hotel New York, New York  Search this
Hildegarde, 1906-2005  Search this
Mercer, Mabel, 1900-1984  Search this
Minnelli, Liza  Search this
Putney, Charles  Search this
Photographer:
Bull, Clarence Sinclair, 1896-1979  Search this
Extent:
13.6 Cubic feet (35 boxes)
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Correspondence
Clippings
Business records
Music
Contracts
Photographs
Passports
Posters
Scrapbooks
Concert programs
Place:
New York (N.Y.) -- 20th century
Date:
1908-2006
Summary:
Bobby Short was a singer and pianist whose career spanned seven decades. An interpreter of American popular music, he became a performer in childhood and remained active until his death. He is best known for his more than 35 years as performer-in-residence at the Hotel Carlyle's Café Carlyle in New York City. This collection contains personal papers and photographs as well as business papers, musical materials and photographs relating to Mr. Short's career as a performing artist.
Scope and Contents:
This collection consists of personal materials relating to Mr. Short's childhood, family, and friends as well as business materials relating to his career as a performer. These include photographs, correspondence, business documents, periodicals, musical materials, manuscripts and awards. Most of the material is arranged chronologically. The container list is detailed as to the type and date of the materials.

Series 1, Personal Materials, circa 1908-2005. This series is divided into four Subseries: Early Life in Danville, Illinois; Awards, Honors, and Milestones; Personal Ephemera and Miscellaneous Publications; and Original Artworks owned by Bobby Short. Subseries 1 includes poems written in childhood and two high school annuals. Subseries 2 includes numerous citations and awards as well as three Grammy nominations. Subseries 4 contains small prints and sketches as well as larger works by various artists.

Series 2, Correspondence, circa 1950-2005. This Series is divided into three Subseries: Personal Correspondence; Correspondence with Celebrities and Notable People; and Business Correspondence and Related Materials. The material is arranged chronologically. The material in Subseries 1 and 2 consists of letters, telegrams, invitations, and notes.

Series 3, Photographs, circa 1908-2005. This Series is divided into six Subseries: With and of Family and Friends; With Celebrities and Notable People; Other Performers, Notable People, and Autographed; In Performance; Publicity, Fashion, and Advertising; and Photographs of Artworks Depicting Bobby Short.

Subseries 1 contains a number of early family photographs and early photographs of Bobby Short. Subseries 1 and 3 include photographs by Carl Van Vechten. Subseries 1 and 5 include photographs by Horst, Hurrell, and Scavullo. Subseries 4 contains photographs of Bobby Short in performance, both alone and with others.

Series 4, Contracts and Related Documents, 1953-2005. This series is divided into six Subseries: Appearances in the United States and Foreign Countries; Film, Radio and Television Appearances; Recording Contracts, Royalty Statements and Related Materials; Print, Radio and Television Advertising; Licensing Proposals; and Union and Labor Department Documents.

Subseries 1 is arranged as follows: Hotel Carlyle Contracts; United States Contracts arranged alphabetically by state. These are followed by foreign contracts arranged alphabetically by name of country. Subseries 2 is arranged as follows: contracts and related materials for radio appearances, television appearances and appearances in films. Subseries 3 consists of recording contracts and royalty statements arranged chronologically and by company. Subseries 4, 5, and 6 are arranged chronologically.

Series 5, Programs, Publicity, and Promotion, 1956-1996. This series is divided into three Subseries: Programs for Performances by Bobby Short; Newspaper Clippings and Magazines; and Promotional Materials.

Subseries 1 consists primarily of programs for performances at concert halls. Subseries 2 consists largely of newspaper and entertainment magazine notices from the 1950s and 1960s. Subseries 3 includes flyers, announcements and table cards.

Series 6, Special Events, 1963-2003. This series consists of materials relating to special events such as charity benefits and anniversary celebrations at which Short performed or was otherwise involved. Several of these events benefited the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Series 7, Musical Materials, circa 1920s-1995. This series consists of a variety of materials relating to music; publications, sheet music, lyrics, recording contracts, album covers, and two 45 rpm recordings. Song lists, discographies, and articles about music are included.

Series 8, Theatrical Productions as Producer or Investor, 1979-1988 This series consists of contracts and performance materials for productions for which Bobby Short acted as a producer and/or investor. Programs, correspondence, and publicity materials are included; also partnership documents and financial statements.

Series 9, Manuscripts, Research, and Publishing Materials, circa 1954-1997. This series is arranged in two Subseries: Writings: Bobby Short; Writings: Others.

Subseries 1 includes a partial manuscript for Black and White Baby and research and other materials for a proposed volume, Black Lady Singers, that was not written. Subseries 2 consists of miscellaneous writings by others including a partial script for a play, Tinsel Town, and a film script, Johnny Twennies.
Arrangement:
The papers are arranged in nine series

Series 1, Personal Materials, circa 1908-2005

Subseries 1, Early Life in Danville, Illinois, 1924-1942

Subseries 2, Awards, Honors and Milestones, 1964-2005

Subseries 3, Personal Ephemera and Miscellaneous Publications, 1937-2002

Subseries 4, Original Artworks Owned by Bobby Short, 1841-1990s

Series 2, Correspondence, circa 1938-2005

Subseries 1, Personal Correspondence, 1950s-2004

Subseries 2, Correspondence with Celebrities and Notable People, 1962-2004

Subseries 3, Business Correspondence and Related materials, 1938-2005

Series 3, Photographs, circa 1908-2005

Subseries 1, With and of Family and Friends, circa 1908-2005

Subseries 2, With Celebrities and Notable People, circa 1953-1990s

Subseries 3, Other Performers, Notable People, and Autographed, circa 1920s-1990s

Subseries 4, In Performance and Related Subjects, circa 1940s-2001

Subseries 5, Publicity, Fashion, and Advertising, circa 1930s-2000s

Subseries 6, Photographs of Artworks Depicting Bobby Short, circa 1960s-1990s

Series 4, Contracts and Related Documents, circa 1953-2005

Subseries 1, Appearances in the United States and Foreign Countries, circa 1953-2005

Subseries 2, Radio, Television, and Film Appearances, 1978-2000

Subseries 3, Recording Contracts, Royalty Statements and Related Materials, 1955-2003

Subseries 4, Print, Radio and Television Advertising, 1976-1997

Subseries 5, Licensing Proposals, 1984-2000

Subseries 6, Union and Labor Department Documents, 1981-2005

Series 5, Programs, Publicity, and Promotion, 1956-1996

Subseries 1, Programs for Performances by Bobby Short

Subseries 2, Newspaper Clippings and Magazines

Subseries 3, Promotional Materials

Series 6, Special Events, 1963-2003

Series 7, Musical Materials, circa 1920-1995

Series 8, Theatrical Productions as Producer or Investor, 1979-1988

Series 9, Manuscripts, Research, And Publishing Materials, circa 1954-1997

Subseries 1, Writings: Bobby Short

Subseries 2, Writings: Others
Biographical / Historical:
Bobby Short (Robert Waltrip Short) was born to Rodman and Myrtle Short on September 15, 1924, in Danville, Illinois. He was one of six surviving children. As part of the town's relatively small African American community, the Short family maintained a middle-class standard of living, even during the Great Depression. Rodman Short pursued several occupations but spent most of his life as a coal miner in West Virginia and was seldom at home. Myrtle Short, a domestic worker, was a fastidious housekeeper who expected a high standard of deportment in her children. In Bobby Short's first memoir, Black and White Baby, he wrote: "Except for our color, we conformed in almost every degree to the image of the white Anglo-Saxon Protestant-in our manners, our mores, and our way of life." Music was an important part of that life; many members of the extended family played instruments or sang, some professionally. Short first played a song by ear at the family upright piano when he was four years old and began his life-long love affair with words and music. Church, school, vaudeville, and minstrel shows provided his earliest musical influences and repertoire; his innate musicality and enthusiasm enabled him to become a skilled performer at an early age. By the time he was ten years old, he was playing and singing in local night spots and as far away as Indianapolis. At twelve, he was playing in vaudeville, at times billed as "the Miniature King of Swing." At thirteen, he returned to Danville, attended high school, and after graduating in 1942, left his home town to begin his professional life in earnest.

Short spent the 1940s and early 1950s as an increasingly successful entertainer in sophisticated night clubs and jazz venues in Chicago and other Midwestern cities, California, and New York, as well as Paris and London. While his early repertoire featured novelty songs and boogie-woogie, as he matured he embraced the standards of Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, and other notable composers and song writers. He enthusiastically promoted the work of African American composers such as Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller and Andy Razaf. His encyclopedic knowledge of popular songs, both the well-known and the obscure, gave his performances a freshness that delighted his audiences.

In 1956, Short moved to New York City, taking up residence in a Carnegie Hall studio apartment. His career as a "saloon singer" (his words) continued in New York and in frequent visits to the Midwest and California. He appeared in theatrical roles and began recording for Atlantic Records. In 1968 his concert at Carnegie Hall with Mabel Mercer led to his engagement at the intimate Café Carlyle at the Hotel Carlyle. He remained there, playing for six months of the year, for the rest of his life. His performances at the Carlyle made him a darling of society and an icon of sophisticated New York style. In the early 1970s his album "Bobby Short Loves Cole Porter" introduced him to a larger audience; he published his first memoir, Black and White Baby, in 1971.

Short recorded numerous albums, earning several Grammy nominations. He appeared on radio and television, occasionally acted on stage and was seen in small roles in several films. He produced "Black Broadway," a theatrical review featuring many veteran performers he had long revered; he was instrumental in the revival of Alberta Hunter's career. Four Presidents--Nixon, Carter, Clinton and Reagan--invited him to perform at the White House. When he was not at the Café Carlyle, he traveled extensively in the United States and abroad, appearing in both night clubs and symphony halls. Success enabled him to purchase a villa in the south of France. His second memoir, Bobby Short, the Life and Times of a Saloon Singer, was published in 1995. Short earned many awards and honors during his lengthy career and was named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress in 1999. He died in New York on March 21, 2005.

Sources: Short, Bobby. Black and White Baby, New York: Dodd, Mead & Company,1971. Short, Bobby (with Robert Mackintosh). Bobby Short, the Life and Times of a Saloon Singer, New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1995.
Related Materials:
Objects (2006.0071): awards, clothing, medals, and a music portfolio, including thirteen sound recordings (1984.0134), are housed in the Division of Music, Sports, and Entertainment, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
Provenance:
Bequeathed to the Smithsonian Institution by Bobby Short.
Restrictions:
This collection is open for research use.

Physical Access: Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves. Researchers must use reference copies of audio-visual materials. When no reference copy exists, the Archives Center staff will produce reference copies on an "as needed" basis, as resources allow. Researchers must use photocopies of scrapbooks due to the fragility of the originals, unless special access is approved.

Technical Access: Listening to sound recordings requires special appointment; please inquire.
Rights:
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.
Topic:
Entertainment  Search this
Works of art  Search this
African American entertainers -- 20th century  Search this
Vaudeville  Search this
Pianists  Search this
Nightclubs  Search this
Popular music -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Musicians -- 20th century  Search this
Music -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Genre/Form:
Correspondence -- 20th century
Clippings
Business records -- 20th century
Music -- Manuscripts
Contracts
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints -- Silver gelatin -- 20th century
Passports
Posters
Scrapbooks -- 20th century
Concert programs
Citation:
Bobby Short Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0946
See more items in:
Bobby Short Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0946
Additional Online Media:

The culture of jazz : jazz as critical culture / Frank A. Salamone

Author:
Salamone, Frank A  Search this
Physical description:
vii, 245 p., [7] p. of plates : ill ; 23 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
United States
Date:
2009
C2009
20th century
Topic:
Jazz--History and criticism  Search this
Popular culture--History  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_920622

The jazz revolution : twenties America & the meaning of jazz / Kathy J. Ogren

Author:
Ogren, Kathy J  Search this
Physical description:
vii, 221 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. ; 22 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
United States
Date:
1989
1921-1930
20th century
Topic:
Jazz--History and criticism  Search this
Music--Social aspects  Search this
Popular culture--History  Search this
Call number:
ML3508.O37 1989X
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_365819

Jazz in American culture / Burton W. Peretti

Author:
Peretti, Burton W (Burton William) 1961-  Search this
Physical description:
199 p. ; 22 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
United States
Date:
1997
C1997
20th century
Topic:
Music--Social aspects  Search this
Jazz--History and criticism  Search this
Popular culture--History  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_530290

Moses and Frances Asch Collection

Creator:
Asch, Moses  Search this
Distler, Marian, 1919-1964  Search this
Folkways Records  Search this
Names:
Courlander, Harold, 1908-1996  Search this
Guthrie, Woody, 1912-1967  Search this
Jenkins, Ella  Search this
Leadbelly, 1885-1949  Search this
Ramsey, Frederic, 1915-1995  Search this
Seeger, Pete, 1919-2014  Search this
Extent:
841 Cubic feet
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Business records
Correspondence
Phonograph records
Photographic prints
Audiotapes
Date:
1926-1986
bulk 1948-1986
Summary:
This collection, which dates from 1926-1986, documents the output of Moses Asch through the various record labels he founded and co-founded, and includes some of his personal papers. The Asch collection includes published recordings, master tapes, outtakes, business records, correspondence, photographs, and film.
Scope and Contents:
The Moses and Frances Asch Collection measures 841 cubic feet and dates from 1926-1987, with some contemporary, relevant correspondence, clippings, and ephemera added after 1987.

Most of the collection consists of audio recordings (commercial 78 rpm and long-playing records, open reel tapes, acetate discs, and test pressings), correspondence with recording artists and producers, artwork, photographs, ephemera, clippings, record production materials, writings, and business papers relating to Folkways Records. Materials relating to Folkways Records can be found primarily in the Correspondence, Folkways Production, Business Records, Photographs, Artwork, Sound Recordings, and Film series.

The collection also contains some biographical materials and personal correspondence, including materials related to Asch's first business, Radio Laboratories, located in the Biographical Materials series. Correspondence, ephemera, photographs, record production materials, business papers, and recordings relating to Asch's record labels before Folkways Records (Asch Recordings, Disc Company of America, Cub Records) are located in the Early Label Materials series as well as the Audio Recordings and Photographs series.
Arrangement note:
The collection is arranged in 10 series:

Series 1: Correspondence, 1942-1987

Series 2: Folkways Production, 1946-1987

Series 3: Business Records, 1940-1987

Series 4: Woody Guthrie papers, 1927-1985

Series 5: Early Label Materials, 1940-1949

Series 6: Biographical Materials, 1926-1987

Series 7: Photographs

Series 8: Artwork

Series 9: Audio Recordings

Series 10: Film

At this time, the collection is partially processed. Please contact rinzlerarchives@si.edu for more information.
Biographical/Historical note:
The son of Yiddish writer Sholem Asch, Moses Asch was born in Poland in 1905. His childhood was spent in Poland, France, Germany, and New York. While young, Asch developed an interest in radio electronics, which ultimately lead him to his life's work, recording the music and sounds of the world. He established several record labels in succession, sometimes partnering with other record companies. Two of his fist record companies, Asch Recordings and DISC Co. of America, went bankrupt. They were followed by his best-known label, Folkways Records, which was founded in 1948 with Marian Distler (1919-1964). He was still working on Folkways recordings when he died in 1986.

Folkways Records sought to document the entire world of sound. The 2,168 titles Asch released on Folkways include traditional and contemporary music from around the world, spoken word in many languages, and documentary recordings of individuals, communities, and current events. Asch's business practices revolved around the commitment to keep every recording issued by Folkways in print, despite low sales. Asch stayed afloat by cutting costs where he could (such as color printing) and offering a high-quality product, meticulously recorded and accompanied by extensive liner notes. In doing this, he could charge a slightly higher price than other commercial outfits. Despite a tenuous relationship with financial solvency, Folkways grew to be not only one of the most important independent record companies in the United States in the 20th century, but also one of the largest and most influential record companies in the world.

Moses Asch's record labels featured famous and lesser known American writers, poets, documentarians, ethnographers, and grass roots musicians on commercial recordings. American folk icon Woody Guthrie recorded on the Asch, Disc, and Folkways labels, and the Asch Collection includes some of his correspondence, lyrics, drawings, and writings. The collection also includes correspondence with other notable musicians and artists such as John Cage, Langston Hughes, Margaret Walker, Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter, Pete Seeger, Peggy Seeger, Ewan MacColl, Alan Lomax, Henry Cowell, and Kenneth Patchen. Also in the collection are ethnographic field notes and photographs by as well as correspondence with Béla Barók, Sidney Robertson Cowell, Harold Courlander, Helen Creighton, Laura Boulton, and Samuel Charters. Asch hired various prominent artists and graphic designers including David Stone Martin, Ben Shahn, John Carlis, and Ronald Clyne to create album cover art for his recordings. Much of the original art and designs for these covers can be found in the Asch Collection.

Asch's output of recordings on various labels, including published recordings, open reel master tapes, outtakes, and acetate disks, in addition to his business papers, correspondence, photographs, and other files were acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987. The collection came to the Smithsonian with the understanding that all 2168 titles under the Folkways label would be kept available in perpetuity.
Provenance:
Ralph Rinzler arranged the Smithsonian's acquisition of the Moses and Frances Asch Collection in 1987, beginning with Asch before his death in 1986 and continuing with extensive discussions between Rinzler and the Asch family. Since its acquisition, archivist Jeff Place and others have added contemporary, relevant correspondence with Folkways artists and related individuals.
Restrictions:
Access by appointment only. Contact the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections at rinzlerarchives@si.edu or (202) 633-7322 for additional information.
Rights:
Copyright restrictions apply. Contact archives staff for additional information.
Topic:
Folk music  Search this
Folk dance music  Search this
Electronic music  Search this
Oral interpretation of poetry  Search this
Oral interpretation of fiction  Search this
Music -- 20th century  Search this
Music -- 19th century  Search this
Music -- 18th century  Search this
Jazz  Search this
Folk music -- United States  Search this
World music  Search this
Sounds  Search this
Vocal music  Search this
Popular music -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Genre/Form:
Business records
Correspondence
Phonograph records
Photographic prints
Audiotapes
Citation:
Moses and Frances Asch Collection, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
CFCH.ASCH
See more items in:
Moses and Frances Asch Collection
Archival Repository:
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-cfch-asch
Additional Online Media:

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