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 email@example.com 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.
Shared Stewardship of Collections:
The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage acknowledges and respects the right of artists, performers, Folklife Festival participants, community-based scholars, and knowledge-keepers to collaboratively steward representations of themselves and their intangible cultural heritage in media produced, curated, and distributed by the Center. Making this collection accessible to the public is an ongoing process grounded in the Center's commitment to connecting living people and cultures to the materials this collection represents. To view the Center's full shared stewardship policy, which defines our protocols for addressing collections-related inquiries and concerns, please visit https://folklife.si.edu/archives#shared-stewardship.
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 to the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections is by appointment only. Visit our website for more information on scheduling a visit or making a digitization request. Researchers interested in accessing born-digital records or audiovisual recordings in this collection must use access copies.
The papers of Anne Valk— a specialist in oral history, public history, and the social history of the 20th-century United States measure 3.75 linear feet and date from 1964 to 1997. The collection contains oral history interviews and documents acquired or created by Dr. Valk during her extensive research of key figures in D.C. community activism for her book, Radical Sisters: Second-Wave Feminism and Black Liberation in Washington D.C. (University of Illinois Press, 2010).
Research files and ephemera from the following people, organizations, and publications are represented in the collection: Josephine Butler (DC Statehood Party; Adams Morgan Organization), Etta Horn (Southeast Neighborhood House's Band of Angels; National Welfare Rights Organization), Dorothy Burlage (Southeast Neighborhood House), Betty Garman (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), Judy Richardson (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), Bernice Reagon (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), Marcia Sprinkle (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), Juanita Weaver (Quest), LaValleJones (Rape Crisis Center), Loretta Ross (Rape Crisis Center, National Black United Front, National Organization of Women), Peggy Cleveland (The Bridge), Joan Biren (DC Women's Liberation Movement), Cathy Wilkerson (SDS, Weather Underground), Tina Smith (SNCC), Off Our Backs newspaper, and Congress Of Racial Equality (CORE),
Biographical / Historical:
Anne Valk (1964- ) is a specialist in oral history, public history, and the social history of the 20th-century United States. Dr. Valk received a M.A. from Mount Holyoke College and a PhD in history from Duke University in 1996. Professor Valk has written extensively in the areas of women's history, history of feminism, and oral history. She teaches public history at the Graduate Center at City University of New York (CUNY) and is the director of the Center for Media and Learning/American Social History Project.
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Please contact the archivist at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Anne Valk papers are the physical property of the Anacostia Community Museum. Literary and copyright belong to the author/creator or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, and to obtain permission to publish or reproduce, contact the Museum Archives.
Biographical materials consist of a resume. Largely, correspondence concerns the provenance, restoration, and sale of an Ad Reinhardt painting owned by Tania. Personal business records contain scattered sales records for Tania's works, conservation receipts, and auction estimates. Photographs are of a class at the Art Students League which is unlabeled. Three contact sheets contain images from Claes Oldenberg's Happening #2: "Soft Skyscraper," (1966) in East Hampton, New York. Also found are photographs of works of art by Tania. Printed materials include clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs for Tania's solo and group shows.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Processing of this collection received support from the Smithsonian American Women's History Initiative.
The collection consists of the transcripts for the Space Astronomy Oral History Project (SAOHP), which examined the early use of rockets and satellites to study the upper atmosphere and space for the period 1946 through the early 1960s. This project constitutes one of several oral history projects conducted within the Department of Space History, NASM. The principal investigator for the SAOHP was David H. DeVorkin, and the interview set contains 225 hours of interviews with 56 individuals. The central thread of this collection is how the availability of new technologies for research, first the rocket and later satellites, helped to create a new social matrix for research. The following were interviewed: Jules Aaron; Ball Brothers; William Baum, William Behring; Jay Bergstrahl; Richard Bleach; William Brunk; Arthur Code; Jerry Conner; Frank Drake; William Fastie; Lorence Fraser; Herbert Friedman; Phyllis Frier; Robert Frosch; George Gianoplis; Thomas Gold; Leo Goldberg; Martin Harwit; Ralph Havens; Albert Hibbs; Noel Hinners; Hans Hinteregger; Charles Johnson; Francis Johnson; Adolph Jursa; Henry Kondracki; Ernst Krause; Alfred Nier; Gerry Neugebauer; Werner Neupert; Ray Newburn; Gordon Newkirk; Edward Ney; Charles O'Dell; William Pickering; Richard Porter; James Purcell; William Rense;Walter Roberts; Nancy Roman; Milton Rosen; Dan Scheiderman; Ronald Schorn; Martin Schwarzschild; Richard Silberstein; John Simpson; Lyman Spitzer; Kaj Strand; Nelson Spencer; John Strong; Gerald Tape; Clyde Tombaugh; Richard Tousey; Mona Tycz; James Van Allen; Gerald Wasserburg; James Webb; James Westphal; Charles Whitsett; Fred Wilshusen; and George Withbroe.
Scope and Contents:
Audio cassettes and transcipts.
The Space Astronomy Oral History Project interviews are arranged alphabetically by interviewee.
This collection contains the interviews for the Space Astronomy Oral History Project. These interviews explore the early use of rockets and satellites over the period 1946 through the early 1960s to investigate the upper atmosphere and space. This project constitutes one of several oral history projects conducted within the National Air and Space Museum's (NASM) Department of Space History. The principal interviewer for this project was David H. DeVorkin and the interview set consists of 225 hours of interviews with 67 individuals. Please note that there are a few instances where audio cassette tapes of the
interview subjects exist but without written transcripts while there are also a few cases of existing transcripts of the interviews without any audio cassette tapes. The following were interviewed for this project: Jules Aaron; Frank Bateson; William Alvin Baum; William Behring; Jay Thor Bergstrahl; Richard Bleach; William E. Brunk; Arthur Dodd Code; Jerry Conner; Fred Dolder; Frank Donald Drake; William G. Fastie; Lorence Fraser; Phyllis Freier; Herbert Friedman; Robert Frosch; Reuben H. Gablehouse; R.A.Gaiser; George Gianopolis; Thomas Gold; Leo Goldberg; Martin Otto Harwit; Ralph Havens; Albert Roach Hibbs; Noel Hinners; Hans Erich Hinteregger; Charles Yothers Johnson; Francis S. Johnson; Adolph Simon Jursa; Jerome Kohl; Henry Kondracki; Ernst Henry Krause; R.C. Mercure; Alfred O. Neir; Gerry Neugebauer; Werner Neupert; Ray Leon Newburn; Gordon Allen Newkirk; Edward P. Ney; Charles Robert O'Dell; William Hayward Pickering; Richard W. Porter; James D. Purcell; William A. Rense; Walter Orr Roberts; Nancy Grace Roman; Milton W. Rosen; Dan Schneiderman; Ronald A. Schorn; Martin Schwarzschild; Richard Silberstein; John Simpson; Nelson W. Spencer; Lyman Spitzer, Jr.; Kaj Strand; John Strong; Gerald Tape; Clyde William Tombaugh; Richard Tousey; Mona Tycz; James Van Allen; Gerald Joseph Wasserburg; James Edwin Webb; James A. Westphal; Charles Edward Whitsett; Fred Wilshusen and George Withbroe.
Space History, NASM, Transfer, 1999, 1999-0034, Varies
The audio cassette tapes of these interviews have yet to be remastered and, due to their fragility, are unavailable to researchers. Transcripts are available to researchers though, there are restrictions placed on a number of them. A NASM staff member will advice the patron which transcripts are available for copying or viewing and how to order copies of transcripts and/or CDs.