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Robert "Mack" McCormick Collection

McCormick, Mack  Search this
Badeaux, Ed, 1926-2015  Search this
Chenier, Clifton, 1925-1987  Search this
Cotten, Elizabeth  Search this
Estes, Sleepy John, 1899-1977  Search this
Hopkins, Lightnin', 1912-1982  Search this
House, Son  Search this
Howling Wolf  Search this
James, Harry  Search this
Jefferson, Blind Lemon, 1897-1929  Search this
Johnson, Robert, 1911-1938  Search this
Leadbelly, 1885-1949  Search this
Lipscomb, Mance, 1895-1976  Search this
Muddy Waters, 1915-1983  Search this
Rinzler, Ralph  Search this
Shaw, Robert, 1908 August 9-1985  Search this
Thomas, Henry, 1874-1952  Search this
Wallace, Sippie  Search this
Oliver, Paul, 1927-2017  Search this
Spivey, Victoria  Search this
Strachwitz, Chris  Search this
60 Cubic feet (171 boxes, 9 map folders)
African Americans -- Mississippi  Search this
Arkansas  Search this
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Business cards
Compact discs
Newspaper clippings
Road maps
Television scripts
Black-and-white negatives
Contact sheets
Color slides
Business records
Family papers
Journals (periodicals)
Financial records
Audio cassettes
Field recordings
Manuscripts for publication
Color negatives
United States -- Race relations
Delta (Miss.)
Sugarland Prison (Tex.)
Greenwood (Miss.)
Robinsonville (Miss.)
Dallas (Tex.)
Houston (Tex.)
San Antonio (Tex.)
Tunica (La.)
Texarkana (Tex.)
Galveston (Texas)
1858-2015, undated
Field notes, manuscripts, photographs, booking contracts, correspondence, personal papers, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, interviews, and other research materials primarily relating to the history of American blues music. Collection documents the lives of significant blues musicians Robert Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lightnin' Hopkins, and Mance Lipscomb; insight into the life, writings, and research practices of Robert "Mack" McCormick; and the business side of recording and selling the blues.
Scope and Contents:
The collection documents the life, writings, research practices, and business activities of blues scholar Robert "Mack" Burton McCormick who came to serve as a leading authority on the genre. Personal papers include diaries, curriculum vitae, biographical sketches, school papers, employment documents, correspondence, financial records, and an interview transcript. McCormick's writings consist of published magazine and journal articles, plays, essays, television scripts, short stories, and album liner notes. There are complete unpublished manuscripts, drafts with notes and research materials, and ideas for future work. McCormick's research practices and subjects of interest are documented in correspondence, field notes, annotated maps, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, city directories, interviews, photographic prints, negatives, slides, and contact sheets. American blues, Texas blues, and the music of significant blues artists, who McCormick served as an agent and manager for, dominated his extensive research efforts. In addition, the collection documents the recording, distribution and sale, and identification of consumer markets for American music in correspondence, contracts, agreements, music journals, publicity and promotional materials, music manuscripts, and interviews.

Throughout the collection preservation measures were performed to ensure long term use of the materials. Newspaper clippings were photocopied, and the originals were discarded. Audio cassette tapes have been reformatted and the digital copies will soon be available for research use.
Collection is arranged into fifteen series.

Series 1: Photographic Negatives, Photographs and Slides, 1959-1998, undated

Subseries 1.1: Photographic Negatives and Contact Sheets, 1967-1977, undated

Subseries 1.2: Photographs, 1959-1998, undated

Subseries 1.3: Photographs, Texas Blues (TB), 1961-1964, undated

Subseries 1.4: Photographic Slides, 1964-1977, undated

Subseries 1.5: Negative and Photograph Indices and Assorted Material, 1963-1975

Series 2: Personal Papers, 1937-2015, undated

Subseries 2.1: Biographical Information, 1945-2003, undated

Subseries 2.2: Correspondence, Greeting Cards, and Postcards, 1937-2010, undated

Subseries 2.3: Education, 1938-1946

Subseries 2.4: Employment Records, 1948-1961, undated

Subseries 2.5: Family Papers, 1945-1988, undated

Subseries 2.6: Press, 1960-2015, undated

Subseries 2.7: Archive, 1972-2015, undated

Subseries 2.8: Campaign, 1959-2015, undated

Subseries 2.9: Financial Papers, 1952-2015

Subseries 2.10: Legal Papers, 1950-2015, undated

Subseries 2.11: Business Records, 1941-2006, undated

Series 3: Project Files, 1960-2003, undated

Subseries 3.1: Library of Congress, 1960-1964

Subseries 3.2: Newport Folk Festival, 1965-1969

Subseries 3.3: Hemisfair, 1968

Subseries 3.4: Smithsonian Institution, Festival of American Folklife 1966-1980, undated

Subseries 3.5: Other Blues Project, 2001-2003, undated

Series 4: Manuscripts and Writings, 1952-2015, undated

Subseries 4.1: Almost A Savage Joy, 1959-1980

Subseries 4.2: Another Fine Mess, 1981-1987, undated

Subseries 4.3: Blues: A New Look, 1965-1984, undated

Subseries 4.4: Blues Odyssey, 1971, undated

Subseries 4.5: Death and Tragedy, 1975-1980, undated

Subseries 4.6: Down in Texas Blues, undated

Subseries 4.7: Folk Songs of Men, 1952-1977, undated

Subseries 4.8: Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley, 1958-1976, undated

Subseries 4.9: Henry Thomas, 1975-2002, undated

Subseries 4.10: Ira, George, Edward, and Lee, 1994, undated

Subseries 4.11: The Magic Room, 1961-1962, undated

Subseries 4.12: Origin of Blues, 1991-2004, undated

Subseries 4.13: Snake in the Belly, 1956-1957, undated

Subseries 4.14: Wiley, 1957-1984, undated

Subseries 4.15: Articles, Ideas and Drafts, 1961-2004, undated

Series 5: Artist Files, 1880-2010, undated

Series 6: Texas Blues Research, 1858-2011, undated

Subseries 6.1: Texas Blues Research, 1910-2010, undated

Subseries 6.2: Lead Files, 1962-1980, undated

Subseries 6.3: Trip Notes, 1960-1989, undated

Subseries 6.4: Song Histories, 1920-1982, undated

Subseries 6.5: Music, 1928-2011, undated

Subseries 6.6: Record Catalogs, 1963-2006, undated

Subseries 6.7: Maps, 1958-1989, undated

Series 7: Robert Johnson, 1910-2015, undated

Subseries 7.1: Research Materials, 1910-2015, undated

Subseries 7.2: Who Killed Robert Johnson Manuscript, 1955-2015, undated

Series 8: Office Files, 1938-2000, undated

Series 9: Correspondence, 1959-2015, undated

Series 10: Organizations, Groups and Buffs, 1961-2003, undated

Series 11: Festivals and Living Museums, 1960-2003, undated

Series 12: Music Journals, 1971-2006, undated

Series 13: Subject Files, 1896-2015, undated

Series 14: People Files, 1928-2014, undated

Series 15: Audio Cassette Tapes and Digital Files, 1941-2007, undated
Biographical / Historical:
Robert Burton "Mack" McCormick (August 3, 1930-November 18, 2015) was a self-taught folklorist who spent a lifetime researching, collecting, and writing about vernacular music in the United States. Most of his work focused on the blues and other musical traditions of Black, brown, and white communities living throughout Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. After experiencing a difficult, transient childhood and eventually dropping out of high school, McCormick settled in Houston, Texas and began to work a series of odd jobs while relentlessly pursuing his goal of becoming a successful writer. Although researching and writing about music came to occupy most of his time, he also pursued passions as a screenwriter and novelist. The volume of historical research and personal interviews he conducted from the 1950s through the early 1970s is remarkable, and his published writings during this period about music and the musicians he doggedly studied were lauded by his peers as among the best in the field. Along the way he worked for a time as a manager for the careers of the Texas songsters Sam "Lightnin'" Hopkins and Mance Lipscomb, and briefly ran his own record label. He made hundreds of hours of field recordings with musicians living throughout the South. He collaborated with colleagues such as Chris Strachwitz, founder of Arhoolie Records, and Paul Oliver, with whom McCormick spent over a decade researching and writing a manuscript on the history of Texas Blues. Beginning in the late 1960s, he was contracted by the Smithsonian Institution as a field worker for its annual Festival of American Folklife, and around the same time began researching the life of blues legend Robert Johnson for a manuscript that McCormick wrote and re-wrote but failed to publish in his lifetime.

McCormick's research, along with his personal archive, became the stuff of legend among fellow blues researchers and enthusiasts, particularly after his publishing output dwindled in the 1970s. He lived with a bipolar disorder that drew him into bouts of depression and paranoia. He came to distrust many of those colleagues working most closely with him, and sometimes shared untrue information to throw them off the trail of his research discoveries. He also "borrowed" heirloom photographs from the family members and descendants of blues artists and, in several cases documented in this collection, he refused to return them. Overcome with challenges that lay both within and without his control, he came to describe the massive archive in his Houston, Texas home as "the monster," and spent his final decades attempting with little success to publish his writings.
Related Materials:
National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

W. C. Handy Collection, NMAH.AC.0132

Sam DeVincent Collection of Illustrated American Sheet Music, Series 3, African American Music, NMAH.AC.0300

Sam DeVincent Collection of Illustrated American Sheet Music, Series 16: Country, Western, and Folk Music, NMAH.AC.0300

Duke Ellington Collection, NMAH.AC.0301

Frank Driggs Collection of Duke Ellington Photographic Reference Prints, NMAH.AC.0389

Program in African American Culture Collection, NMAH.AC.0408

Ruth Ellington Collection of Duke Ellington Materials, NMAH.AC.0415

Alan Strauber Photoprints, 1990-1994, 1999, NMAH.AC.0517

Jonas Bernholm Rhythm and Blues Collection, NMAH.AC.0551

Ray McKinley Music and Ephemera, NMAH.AC.0635

Bluestime Power Hour Videotapes, NMAH.AC.0657

Edward and Gaye Collection of Duke Ellington Materials, NMAH.AC.0704

Bill Holman Collection, NMAH.AC.0733

Andrew Homzy Collection of Duke Ellington Stock Arrangements, NMAH.AC.0740

Harry Warren Papers, NMAH.AC.0750

Benny Carter Collection, NMAH.AC.0757

W. Royal Stokes Collection of Music Photoprints and Interviews, NMAH.AC.0766

Fletcher and Horace Henderson Collection, NMAH.AC.0797

Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program Collection, NMAH.AC.0808

William Russo Music and Personal Papers, NMAH.AC.0845

Milt Gabler Papers, NMAH.AC.0849

Leonard and Mary Gaskin Papers, NMAH.AC.0900

Bobby Tucker Papers, NMAH.AC.1141

Floyd Levin Jazz Reference Collection, NMAH.AC1222

Duncan Schiedt Jazz Collection, NMAH.AC1323

Maceo Jefferson Papers, NMAH.AC1370

Jazz and Big Band Collection, 1927-1966, NMAH.AC.1388

Nick Reynolds Kingston Trio Papers, NMAH.AC.1472

McIntire Family Hawaiian Entertainers Collection, NMAH.AC.1511

Native Peoples Musicians and Music Collection, NMAH.AC.1512

Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

Arhoolie Business Records and Audio Recordings, 1960-2016, CFCH.ARHO

Moses and Frances Asch Collection, 1926-1986, CFCH.ASCH

CFCH Audiovisual Projects, 2011-2018, CFCH.AVPR

Diana Davies Photographs, 1963-1969, CFCH.DAVIE

Frederic Ramsey Audio Recordings, 1945-1959, CFCH.RAMS

Ralph Rinzler Papers and Audio Recordings, 1950-1994, CFCH.RINZ

Smithsonian Folklife Festival Records: 1968 Festival of American Folklife, CFCH.SFF.1968

Smithsonian Folklife Festival Records: 1969 Festival of American Folklife, CFCH.SFF.1969

Smithsonian Folklife Festival Records: 1970 Festival of American Folklife, CFCH.SFF.1970

Smithsonian Folklife Festival Records: 1972 Festival of American Folklife, CFCH.SFF.1972

Smithsonian Folklife Festival Records: 1973 Festival of American Folklife, CFCH.SFF.1973

Smithsonian Folklife Festival Records: 1974 Festival of American Folklife, CFCH.SFF.1974

Smithsonian Folklife Festival Records: 1975 Festival of American Folklife, CFCH.SFF.1975

Smithsonian Folklife Festival Records: 1976 Festival of American Folklife, CFCH.SFF.1976

Smithsonian Folklife Festival Records: 1983 Festival of American Folklife, CFCH.SFF.1983

Smithsonian Folklife Festival Records: 1985 Festival of American Folklife, CFCH.SFF.1985

Smithsonian Folklife Festival Records: 1987 Festival of American Folklife, CFCH.SFF.1987

Smithsonian Folklife Festival Records: 1988 Festival of American Folklife, CFCH.SFF.1988

Smithsonian Folklife Festival Records: 1989 Festival of American Folklife, CFCH.SFF.1989

Smithsonian Folklife Festival Records: 1991 Festival of American Folklife, CFCH.SFF.1991

Smithsonian Folklife Festival Records: 1996 Festival of American Folklife, CFCH.SFF.1996

Smithsonian Folklife Festival Records: 1997 Festival of American Folklife, CFCH.SFF.1997

Smithsonian Folklife Festival Records: 2011 Festival of American Folklife, CFCH.SFF.2011

Smithsonian Institution

Division of Performing Arts Records, 1966-1979, Accession T90055

Office of Public Affairs, Biographical Files, 1963-1988, Record Unit 420, SIA.FARU0420

National Museum of American History, Department of Public Programs, 1968-1992, Record Unit 584, SIA.FARU0584

Smithsonian Productions, 1967-2000, undated, SIA.FA09-055
Separated Materials:
National Museum of American History's Division of Culture and the Arts

Artifacts acquired as part of the collection include:

Washburn style G guitar, serial number 46472, Accession number 2019.0234.01.

Set of quills (or panpipes) made and played by blues artist Joe Patterson. Accession number 2019.0234.02.

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections

Audio recordings acquired as part of the collection are listed in The Guide to the Mack McCormick Audio Tapes Collection prepared by Jeff Place, 2020-2022.
Collection donated by Susannah Nix to the Archives Center in 2019.
Collection is open for research. Access to original materials in boxes 76-80 is prohibited. Researchers must use digital copies.

Additional materials have been removed from public access pending investigation under the Smithsonian Institution's Ethical Returns and Shared Stewardship Policy.
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.
African American musicians  Search this
Drafts (documents)  Search this
Blues (Music)  Search this
Blues musicians  Search this
Photographs  Search this
Postcards -- 20th century  Search this
telephone -- Directories  Search this
Plays  Search this
African American music -- 20th century  Search this
Sharecropping  Search this
Plantations  Search this
Zydeco music  Search this
Commercial recordings  Search this
Piano music (Barrelhouse)  Search this
Genealogy  Search this
African Americans -- Texas  Search this
Songsters  Search this
Blues (Music) -- Delta (Miss. : Region)  Search this
Rodeos -- United States  Search this
Prisons -- Songs and music  Search this
Festival of American Folklife -- History  Search this
Festival of American Folklife -- Planning  Search this
Street scenes  Search this
Blues (Music) -- Texas.  Search this
African Americans -- Folklore  Search this
American South  Search this
African American -- Social life and customs  Search this
Blues (Music) -- Mississippi.  Search this
Blues (Music) -- Alabama.  Search this
Blues (Music) -- New Orleans (La.)  Search this
Conjunto music  Search this
Jazz -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Folk music -- United States  Search this
Ethnomusicology -- History  Search this
Sound recordings  Search this
Sound recording and reproduction  Search this
Tejano music  Search this
Transcripts  Search this
Folklorists  Search this
Zydeco musicians  Search this
Musicians, Cajun  Search this
Folk music -- United States -- History and criticism.  Search this
Music -- History and criticism  Search this
Festival of American Folklife  Search this
African Americans -- Alabama -- Music  Search this
Guitar -- 20th century  Search this
Guitar music  Search this
Guitarists  Search this
Country musicians  Search this
Sound recording executives and producers -- United States -- Biography.  Search this
Sound recording industry  Search this
Blues (Music) -- Southern States.  Search this
Blues musicians -- United States -- Interviews.  Search this
Hawaiian guitar  Search this
Hawaiian guitar music  Search this
African American farmers  Search this
Sharecroppers  Search this
Labor -- Southern states -- 20th century  Search this
manuscripts -- Editing  Search this
African Americans -- Songs and music  Search this
Sound recordings -- Album covers  Search this
African American prisoners  Search this
Crafts  Search this
Museum outreach programs  Search this
Folk music -- New Orleans (La.)  Search this
Black people -- Race identity  Search this
Race discrimination -- United States  Search this
Sound recordings -- Collectors and collecting  Search this
Business cards
Compact discs
Newspaper clippings
Road maps -- United States
Television scripts
Ephemera -- 20th century
Black-and-white negatives
Contact sheets -- 20th cenury
Color slides -- 20th century
Business records -- 20th century
Family papers -- 20th century
Diaries -- 20th century
Journals (periodicals) -- 20th century
Financial records -- 20th century
Audio cassettes -- 20th century
Manuscripts -- Music -- 20th century
Field recordings
Writings -- 20th century
Transcripts -- 20th century
Manuscripts for publication
Manuscripts -- 20th century
Color negatives
Negatives -- 20th century
Articles -- 20th century
Robert "Mack" McCormick Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
See more items in:
Robert "Mack" McCormick Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Online Media:

Alan Strauber Photoprints

Strauber, Alan  Search this
Bo Diddley, 1928-2008  Search this
Brown, Jerry, 1942-  Search this
Burrell, Kenny  Search this
Duke, David  Search this
Franklin, Aretha  Search this
Winfield, Dave  Search this
0.2 Cubic feet (2 boxes)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Ellis Island (New York, N.Y.)
ca. 1990-1999.
Forty-one black and white photoprints, most of which are portraits of jazz, blues, Cajun, and zydeco musicians, plus a few additional subjects.
Scope and Contents:
These prints are all on fiber-based paper, unmounted. The subjects include jazz, blues, and zydeco musicians, politicians, and baseball players in action. All prints copyright 1994 by Alan Strauber, except as otherwise noted, and signed and dated on verso. All are 8" x 10" except for the 11" x 14" prints in box 2.

The majority of the photographs depict musicians in concert, but additional subjects include professional baseball players, politicians like Jerry Brown, and built structures in the American South and at Ellis Island.
Subjects include Marie Laveau's tomb, Aaron Neville, Irma Thomas, Dr. John, Michel Doucette, George Porter, Aretha Franklin, Willie Dixon, Koko Taylor, Johnny Copland, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, "Snooks" Eaglin, Robert Ward, Bo Diddley, Don Byron, Cajun dancers, David Duke, Jerry Brown, Boozoo Chavis, Terrence Simien, Chubby Carrier, C. J. Chevier, Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson, Kenny Burrell, Robben Ford, Kenny Neal, Junior Wells, John Lee Hooker and Willie Dixon, a Mardi Gras "Indian," Walter "Wolfman" Washington, and Robert "Junior" Lockwood; Ellis Island; and "Little Wimp's Barbecue House."
1 series.

Arranged topically.
Biographical / Historical:
Alan Strauber is a photojournalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Gannett Suburban Newspapers, Downbeat Magazine, and AKC Gazette, among others. His work is in the collections of Yad Vashem (Jerusalem, Israel), the Delta Blues Museum (Clarksdale, Mississippi), and the National Baseball Hall of Fame (Cooperstown, N.Y.). Among his special photographic interests are the photography of jazz musicians, professional baseball, and politicians; examples are contained in this collection. His e-mail address is

He is also a poet and art critic. An article by Mr. Strauber, "Art entices eyes, ears at Whitney Museum" from the Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal, April 11, 2002, is posted on the World Wide Web at

Mr. Strauber is mentioned in on a genealogical site listing his family background, posted in the "Phair Family Circle" at
Collection donated by Alan Strauber, 1994, December 21.
Collection is open for research.
Alan Staruber retains copyright. At the time of donation, the Archives Center of the National Museum of American History obtained standard museum rights from the photographer to exhibit these photographs, lend them to other qualified museums, and publish them in its own publication program. These rights do not entitle the Archives Center to provide reproduction permission to third parties, which must contact the photographer for further information.
Baseball players -- 1990-2000  Search this
Baseball -- 1990-2000  Search this
Jazz musicians -- 1950-2000 -- United States  Search this
Zydeco musicians  Search this
Musicians, Cajun  Search this
Blues musicians  Search this
Jazz -- 1990-2000  Search this
Carnival -- 1990-2000 -- New Orleans (La.)  Search this
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints -- Silver gelatin -- 1980-2000
Alan Strauber Photoprints, 1990-1994, 1999, Archives Center, National Museum of American History. Gift of the artist.
See more items in:
Alan Strauber Photoprints
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Cajun music and zydeco / photographs by Philip Gould ; with an introduction by Barry Jean Ancelet

Gould, Philip 1951-  Search this
Physical description:
xxi, 120 p. : col. ill. ; 32 cm
Musicians, Cajun--Portraits  Search this
Zydeco musicians--Portraits  Search this
Call number:
M1668.8.G69 1992
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries

Let the good times roll! : a guide to Cajun & zydeco music / Pat Nyhan, Brian Rollins, David Babb

Guide to Cajun & zydeco music
Nyhan, Patricia  Search this
Rollins, Brian  Search this
Babb, David  Search this
Physical description:
230 p. : ill. ; 23 cm
Sound recordings--Reviews  Search this
Cajun music--Discography  Search this
Musicians, Cajun  Search this
Zydeco music--Discography  Search this
Zydeco musicians  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries

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