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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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.
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.
Access by appointment only. Contact the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections at email@example.com or (202) 633-7322 for additional information.
Copyright restrictions apply. Contact archives staff for additional information.
Collection consists of photoprints and other materials created by Jacob Jacobson for the "Heart & Hands: Musical Instrument Makers of America" exhibition circulated by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), from April 2000 to early 2004.
Scope and Contents:
The collection consists of photoprints and other materials created by Jacob Jacobson for the "Heart & Hands: Musical Instrument Makers of America" exhibition circulated by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), from April 2000 to early 2004. The materials are arranged into two series.
Series 1: Iris (Inkjet) Digital Photoprints, dates, consists of eighty six color Iris (inkjet) items. The subjects are primarily individual musicians and craftsmen, although several instrument companies are included, notably the venerable Selmer Company of Elkhart, Indiana, which has manufactured band instruments for many decades. These digital prints were made from Jacobson's 35mm color transparencies (although print number one is monochrome, rather than full color). The prints are from a limited edition of 350, and are signed by the photographer in the lower right beneath the image, and numbered on the lower left. Some prints bears Northlight Atelier blind stamp in the margin and an identifying label with the print number and subject's name is affixed to each print on the verso at the bottom. Most of the prints have an image size of 20" in the long dimension and from approximately 13-1/4" to 14-1/4" on the short side; on heavy, textured archival paper, ranging in size from about 16"x 23" to 19"x 24". Eight larger prints, with image sizes of approximately 21-22" x 31-32" in size, were received matted and in 28" x 40" frames. Some representative image and print sizes are included. Most prints are in one large flat box; prints in the "folder" are stored separately because the paper is slightly too large for the box. The large framed prints are necessarily stored separately and are less accessible.
Series 2: Other Materials, dates, includes a loose-leaf notebook containing inventory of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services (SITES) exhibit prints with titles and thumbnail images for identification (except item 55, which is omitted), plus a CD-ROM containing the images in pocket. Note that the images for numbers 81 and 85 in the notebook are reversed. There is also a compact disk in plastic jewel case of the same name ("Heart & Hands: Musical Instrument Makers of America"), which contains sixty tracks of instrument makers playing their instruments and interviews with some of them. Compact disk in plastic jewel case, "Heart & Hands: Musical Instrument Makers of America; Music and Interviews Recorded Live; Taken from the Book..." (produced by Northlight). Containing music and selected interviews with instrument makers, produced for commercial distribution by Northlight Atelier; 60 tracks. Compact disk in plastic jewel case, "Heart & Hands: Musical Instrument Makers of America; Music and Interviews Recorded Live; Taken from the Book..." (produced by Northlight). Containing music and selected interviews with instrument makers, produced for commercial distribution by Northlight Atelier; 60 tracks.
The collection is divided into two series.
Series 1, Iris (Inkjet) Digital Photoprints
Series 2, Other Materials
Biographical / Historical:
"Heart & Hands: Musical Instrument Makers of America" was an exhibition of photographs by Jake Jacobson, circulated by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), from April 2000 to early 2004 to at least fourteen venues. The first site was April 8, 2000, at the Georgia Mountains History Museum, and the last venue for the show was the Elkhart County Historical Museum, Bristol, Indiana, ending April 6, 2004. Selections from the exhibition were on view from June 4 to 8, 2001, in the Rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building, and it was shown in the Smithsonian's Arts and Industries building, March 2-April 28, 2002.
The field work for the project was begun in 1996, culminating in 1998. "Traveling coast to coast, in an extensive two-year journey across the United States, Jake Jacobson and research collaborator Trisja Malisoff recorded the images, words, and music of over 300 contemporary musical instrument makers. Documenting the diversity of American music, Jacobson's photographs reveal a complex, living tradition-a heritage that draws upon Latin, Native American, European, African and Asian music influences."
Following this project, Jacobson engaged in a related photographic documentation, "Heart & Hands: Musical Instrument Makers of China." He has established a "Heart & Hands Foundation." Music has been an important part of Jacobson's life throughout his career as a photographer, printmaker, and jazz musician. During the mid-1960s he operated a backyard print shop, producing rock concert posters. As an advertising and editorial photographer, he pioneered new techniques for special effects and printmaking. His continuing passion for photographing musical artists is evident in the portraits in the "Heart & Hands" project.
A graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography, Jacobson has taught photography at UCLA and Cypress College in Orange County. A longtime practitioner and teacher of Yoga, he is the owner of the Center for Yoga in Los Angeles. He operated a "state-of-the-art" photography, printmaking, and video production studio, Northlight of Colorado, in the mountains near Telluride, Colorado, before relocating the Northlight Atelier to Santa Barbara, California, in 2003.
Another project of Jacobson's is entitled, "Oh, Baby--Celebrating Birth Rites around the World."
Collection donated by Mr. Jacobson.
The collection is open for research use.
Physical Access: Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves.
Technical Access: Do not use original
Jake Jocobson retains copyright. 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.
Ray Brown was an African-American musician, composer, bandleader, manager, music teacher and promoter. He became best known for his collaborative work with Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald, the Oscar Peterson Trio and Norman Granz' s Jazz at the Philharmonic. Over the course of his career, Brown received awards and accolades from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Jazz Hall of Fame, Down Beat and Playboy. Brown's papers document his professional music career from 1944 to 2002 and include music compositions and notes, publicity materials, photographs and some recordings of his performances.
Scope and Contents:
The collection primarily documents the near sixty-year music career of upright bass player, bandleader, composer, and instructor Raymond Matthews (Ray) Brown and the various bands that he played with. The materials consist of music manuscripts, musical arrangements, published sheet music, photographs, programs, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, posters, audio and video recordings, honors and awards, correspondence, and publications. There is very little information about Brown's education, family or other aspects of his personal life.
The collection is arranged into five series.
Series 1, Musical Compositions and Notes, 1940s-2000s, undated
Series 2, Publicity Materials, 1950s-2002, undated
Series 3, Photographic Materials, 1940-2003, undated
Series 4, Personal Papers, 1954-2010
Series 5, Audiovisual Materials, 1978-1993, undated
Biographical / Historical:
Raymond Matthews Brown was an African-American musician (double bass and cello) born on October 13, 1926 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He became known for his collaborative work with Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald (to whom he was married for a few years) and others. He was a composer, bandleader, manager, music teacher and promoter. His professional music career lasted almost sixty years, dating from 1944 to 2002.
Brown's career began with a risky move to New York City in 1945, as a recent high school graduate, which resulted in his being hired on the spot to play with Dizzy Gillespie. Brown continued to play with Gillespie and others in various groups, recording songs such as "One Bass Hit" and "Night in Tunisia," before leaving in 1947.
Brown married notable jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald that same year. He and Fitzgerald adopted a son, Raymond Matthew Brown Jr., and performed together in Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic. Granz's tours, which Brown participated in from around 1949 to 1958, allowed him to travel and play all around the world. After being introduced to Oscar Peterson during a Philharmonic tour, Brown became a founding member of the Oscar Peterson Trio in 1952. His growing commitment to the group, along with other factors, led to Brown and Fitzgerald's divorce in 1953. However, the two would continued to collaborate and perform together, as friends and colleagues.
Brown worked with Peterson and other prominent jazz musicians to found the Advanced School of Contemporary Music in Toronto, which lasted from 1960 to 1965. He left the Peterson trio in the late 1960s and moved to Los Angeles to work as a composer, manager, educator, and publisher. In California, he worked for several movie and television show orchestras, became bassist for all of Frank Sinatra's television specials, and accompanied some noted singers, including Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Tony Bennett. He composed the theme song to Steve Allen's show, "Gravy Waltz," for which they both won a Grammy Award in 1964. He also managed the Modern Jazz Quartet, and Quincy Jones. In the 1980s, he formed the Ray Brown Trio with pianist Gene Harris, which lasted nine years. He also directed events such as the Monterey Jazz and Concord Summer Festivals, and consulted for the Hollywood Bowl Association. Brown continued to play and record with his trio and various other groups, such as the Oscar Peterson Trio and the Modern Jazz Quartet, for the rest of his life. He also published an instructional book for the bass, Ray Brown's Bass Method, through his own company in 1999. Over the course of his career, Brown received awards and accolades from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Jazz Hall of Fame, Down Beat, Playboy, and many more. Ray Brown died in 2002 at the age of seventy five.
The collection was donated to the Archives Center in 2015 by Ray Brown's widow, Cecilia Brown.
Collection is open for research.
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.
Scrapbooks, photograph albums, sketchbooks, correspondence, manuscripts, and printed material reflect Brown's work as a painter, and his ties with contemporary musical and literary figures.
REEL 877: Four scrapbooks, 1946-1972, containing: photographs of composers Igor Stravinsky and Paul Hindemith, artist Don Bachardy and Brown; letters and notes to Brown from musicians Stravinsky, Hindemith, John Cage, and Samuel Barber; drawings and photographs of works by Brown; clippings; and manuscript material by John Cage and Francis Poulenc.
REEL 921: Eight photograph albums, 1941-1971, including photos of Brown's work; photos of Brown at MacDowell Colony working on a series of self-portraits; of Brown, friends, and other artists, including Paul Wonner, Sonia Sekula, John McLaughlin, Jack Zajac, Sterling Holloway, Richard Diebenkorn, Mary Callery, David Park, Robert Shaw, poet May Sarton, playwright William Inge, composers Igor Stravinsky and Paul Hindemith, author Christopher Isherwood, and others.
REELS 1095 and 1116 (photographs only): Correspondence, ca. 1923-1974; with artists, musicians, writers, composers, and others; privately published letters of Brown's grandfather; sketchbooks, including two from his early years, 1926 and 1930-1934, and six done in Europe, 1945; one sketch by Brown and one each by Paul and Gertrude Hindemith; manuscripts; photographs of family, friends, and associates; photographs of drawings; catalogs and announcements; printed papers; legal documents; and 2 clippings relating to Igor Stravinsky.
REEL 1095: Correspondents include: Eugene Anderson, Cecil Beaton, James Broughton, Van Deren Coke, Robert Craft, Jay DeFeo, Elaine De Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Richard Donovan, Vladimir Golschmann, George H. Hamilton, Thomas B. Hess, Gertrude Hindemith (36 letters), Paul Hindemith, David Hockney, Bart Howard, William Inge, Christopher Isherwood, Dorothy Jenkins, Frank Johnson, Gavin Lambert, Jo Lathwood, Amy Loomis, Ben Masselind, Everett Meeks, Nathan Oliveira, Mary Petty, Josephine Carson Rider, Muriel Rukeyser, Eva Marie Saint, Leo Schrade, Bruce Simonds, Helen Stone, Vera Stravinsky, Richard Swift, Ann Tardos and Wayne Thiebaud; many are represented with only one letter.
Biographical / Historical:
Painter; San Francisco, Calif. Associated with the late 1950s movement of Bay Area figurative painting. Had particularly close ties with contemporary musical and literary worlds.
Material on reels 877 and 921 lent for microfilming and remainder donated 1974 by William T. Brown. Catalogs on reel 1095 were transferred to NMAA/NPG Library after microfilming.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm. Contact Reference Services for more information.