This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center.
Guild Art Gallery records, circa 1933-1937. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Smithsonian Institution's Collections Care and Preservation Fund. Funding for the digitization of the collection was provided in part by Rosina Rubin.
106.32 Cubic feet (87.5 cubic feet of papers, 18.82 cubic feet of audio)
This collection, with bulk dates from 1950-1994, documents the life of Ralph Rinzler and his professional activities as Director of Field Programs for the Newport Folk Festival, Director of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival (formerly the Festival of American Folklife) and the Office of Folklife Programs (now the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage), and the Smithsonian Institution's Assistant Secretary for Public Service. Includes personal papers, business records, correspondence, notes, photographs, audiotapes and field recordings.
Scope and Contents:
The Ralph Rinzler Papers and Audio Recordings encompasses a wide range of materials from Rinzler's prolific personal and professional life. Predominantly consisting of clippings, collected texts, correspondence, meeting notes, photographs, and production materials, this collection charts Rinzler's role in the mid-twentieth century emergence of community-based and institutional efforts to preserve, sustain, and amplify cultural heritage. As an assemblage of materials from all aspects of his life, the Ralph Rinzler Papers also reflect the many integral relationships he developed throughout the years with his colleagues, contemporaries, family, and friends.
The collection is currently arranged in 9 archival series as follows:
2. Collected Texts
6. Meetings and Organizations
7. Notable Figures
8. Publishing and Production
The papers and photographs contained in the first 8 series are processed at an intermediate level, which means that all material was rehoused in archival folders, with folder-level arrangements and descriptions. Individual items within folders may not be fully arranged or described, due to the collection's level of complexity when it was deposited in the Archives.
When possible, folders were arranged alphabetically within series and subseries.
Ralph Rinzler (1934-1994) was born in Passaic, New Jersey, and was interested in music at an early age. He was given a collection of ethnographic recordings from the Archive of Folk Song of the Library of Congress by his uncle, Harvard University ballad scholar George Lyman Kittredge, and they soon became his favorites. He became actively involved in the Folk Revival while attending Swarthmore College, organizing an annual festival on campus. He received his B.A. in 1956, and did graduate work at Middlebury College and the Sorbonne in French literature and language. Upon his return to the United States, he played mandolin for four years with the Greenbriar Boys, at times touring with singer Joan Baez. During the 1960s, he also studied, recorded, and worked with performers of traditional music, such as Doc Watson and Bill Monroe, both of whom gained international recognition in part through his efforts. In 1964, Rinzler accepted the position of Director of Field Programs at the Newport Folk Foundation, which involved the planning and programming of the Newport Folk Festival.
Rinzler came to the Smithsonian in 1967 as co-founder of the Festival of American Folklife (now the Smithsonian Folklife Festival) with James Morris in what was then the Smithsonian's Division of Performing Arts. After the 1976 Bicentennial Festival, Rinzler became the founding director of the Office of Folklife Programs (now the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage) to establish a center for research, publication, and presentation of programs in American culture and tradition. As Director, he initiated Smithsonian Folklife Studies, a publication series, and did research for the Celebration exhibit, which opened at the Renwick Gallery in 1982. Rinzler was appointed Assistant Secretary for Public Service in 1983 and Assistant Secretary Emeritus in 1990. Ralph Rinzler died on July 2, 1994.
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://doi.org/10.25573/data.21771155.
The materials in this collection were deposited into the archives of the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage over a number of years by Ralph Rinzler, Kate Rinzler, and Jeff Place in honor of the aforementioned. From the 1980s until Ralph Rinzler's passing in 1994, the Center received the majority of the audio tapes and photographs in this collection directly from Rinzler. With Rinzler's death in 1994, Jeff Place reviewed and deposited the majority of Rinzler's papers at the Center.
Until her passing in 2011, Kate Rinzler donated materials to this collection, with more continuing to arrive via her estate (as of May 2021). Many of these items were rehoused in the Kate Rinzler Papers.
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.
Alabama-English, 2433 typed cards in 2 boxes; English-Alabama, approximately 3000 typed and autograph A. cards in 2 boxes. Includes terms written in pencil and marked "(K)," which may be terms in Koasati. Informants are Harden Sylestine and others.
Swanton's arrangement of the Alabama-English section is generally alphabetical, with many terms grouped together by stesm. The cards have been stamped with consecutive numbers 1-2433, and Swanton's order has been preserved. Cards that had been clipped together now have a second number, beginning with 1 for the first in a clipped group (e.g., if cards 25-27 were found clipped together, they would now be numbered 25-1, 26-2, 27-3).
The Alabama-English section (with sequentially numbered cards) contains utterances identifiable by a following number in parentheses. If the number does not begin with zero, apparently if refers to Swanton's page numbers in his rough field notes (M 4151 "second set"). Numbers beginning with zero seem to refer to the"first set," MS 4151-- Karen Lupardus, August 18, 1978.
Biographical / Historical:
The note by Swanton preceding Alabama-English section reads? "The material marked (H) was furnished by an Alabama Indian, Harden Sylestine, who translated in his own way. His translation is usually preserved lest a mistake be made in altering; the material is to be corrected later. This includes all of my Alabama material except 12 pages of text by native informants and a vocabulary which for the most part duplicates what has been given."
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.
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.
Artifacts donated to the Museum's Division of Culture and the Arts (now Division of Cultural and Community Life) include a suit and violin. See accession numbers: 2005.3105 and 2007.3020.
This collection was donated by Claude Williams's widow, Blanche Y. Fouse-Williams, in 2005.
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.
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.
201 The Mexican Blues / Banjo, Chalil, Mandolin, Guitar.
202 Time's A-Getting Hard / Banjo, Chalil, Mandolin, Guitar.
203 Empty Pocket Blues (Barrel of Money Blues) / Banjo, Chalil, Mandolin, Guitar.
204 Sally My Dear / Banjo, Chalil, Mandolin, Guitar.
205 Oh, Liza, Poor Gal / Banjo.
206 Sally Ann / Banjo.
207 Woody's Rag / Mandolin, Guitar.
109 Brandy Leave Me Alone / Banjo, Chalil, Mandolin, Guitar.
108 Yodel / Banjo, Chalil, Mandolin, Guitar.
Publication, Distribution, Etc. (Imprint):
New York Folkways, 1955.
Program notes ( p.) inserted in container.
Contains arrangements of folk songs, popular songs, and excerpts from works by Bach, Beethoven, and Grieg.
Restrictions on access. No duplication allowed listening and viewing for research purposes only.