This collection consists of 110 black-and-white photographic prints depicting musicians performing at various American and European jazz clubs between 1948 and 1991. The collection contains mounted and unmounted 11" x 14" and 16" x 20" prints made by Leonard. Artists represented among these photographs are Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Lester Young, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, and Thelonious Monk. The photographs are organized into three series: Series 1: 11"x 14" prints, Series 2: 16" x 20" prints, and Series 3: Addenda. The series are arranged alphabetically by performer's last name. Unmatted 16" x 20" prints can be found in box 2 but are listed alphabetically by performer.
Biographical / Historical:
Herman Leonard (1923‑ ) was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania and served as a military photographer in Burma during World War II. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in photography from Ohio University and began working with Yousuf Karsh, a Canadian portraitist. Settling in New York in 1949, Leonard began photographing jazz musicians at various jazz clubs on Broadway and Fifty‑Second Streets, and in Harlem for such publications as Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Life, Look, Playboy, and Time. He later to Paris to begin a fashion and advertising business. He also continued photographing jazz musicians. In 1988 Leonard presented his first exhibition, "Images of Jazz," in London. This show established his reputation as a leading photographer of jazz and sparked further shows and publications.
The Herman Leonard Photographs were donated to the National Museum of American History by Mr. Leonard on December 17, 1991 and in 2006.
Collection is open for research.
The Archives Center does not own the rights to the Leonard photographs. All requests for permission to use these photographs for non‑museum purposes must be addressed directly to Herman Leonard at (504) 286‑2444.