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

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

Fletcher and Horace Henderson Collection, NMAH.AC.0797

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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:

Charles Sumner Tainter Papers

Tainter, Charles Sumner, 1854-1940  Search this
Hartsook Studio (San Diego, Calif.)  Search this
American Graphophone Company  Search this
Clark, Alvin and Sons Company  Search this
Edison Phonograph Works  Search this
International Graphophone Company  Search this
Volta Graphophone Gompany  Search this
Bell, Alexander Graham, 1847-1922  Search this
Bell, Chichester  Search this
Berliner, Emile, 1851-1929  Search this
Former owner:
National Museum of American History (U.S.). Division of Electricity and Modern Physics  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.). Division of Mechanisms  Search this
2 Cubic feet (6 boxes)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Laboratory notebooks
Charles Sumner Tainter has been recognized as the father of the talking machine, and much of the material in this collection represents his experimental work on the graphophone. Alexander Graham Bell, Chichester Bell, and Tainter established the Volta Laboratory Association in 1881. This collection presents a comprehensive picture of the early development of the phonograph and Tainter's substantial contributions to the project.
Scope and Contents:
Charles Sumner Tainter has been recognized as the father of the talking machine, and much of the material in this collection represents his experimental work on the graphophone.

Alexander Graham Bell, in partnership with his cousin Chichester Bell, and Tainter, established the Volta Laboratory Association in 1881, which stayed in operation until 1885. During this time Tainter recorded his experiments on the graphophone in thirteen note books or "Home Notes" and in two large volumes of technical drawings and notes. One of these volumes contains very exact drawings for a multiple record duplicator (1897-1908); the other contains rough sketches of his experiments with various apparatuses (1883-1884).

Tainter also wrote an unpublished, undated manuscript on The Talking Machine and Some Little Known Facts in Connection with Its Early Development. Another document consists of a binder with the printed patent specifications of Tainter, Alexander Graham Bell, and Chichester Bell (1880-1903). All of these documents are contained within this collection, except Volumes 9, 10, and 13 of Tainter's "Home Notes" which were destroyed in a fire in Tainter's Laboratory in Washington, D.C., in September 1897. The other ten volumes were needed in a law suit and were in possession of his attorney at the time of the fire. Records of Court testimony in suits involving the phonograph (1894-1896) are also included in this collection.

Tainter's memoirs, Early History of Charles Sumner Tainter provide a personal account of his childhood and youth, and of his later role as a member of the U. S. Government Expedition to observe the transit of Venus in 1874. Certificates, photographs, clippings, some correspondence, handwritten notes, and articles on the history of the phonograph complete the collection of his papers.
The collection is divided into three series:

Series 1, Papers, 1878-1937

Series 2, Laboratory Notes, 1881-1908

Series 3, Artifacts, undated
Biographical / Historical:
Charles Sumner Tainter, son of George and Abigail Sanger Tainter, was born on April 25, 1854, in Watertown, Massachusetts, near Boston. His father was an inventor with several patents to his name. In his memoirs Tainter describes his father as "a man of much force of character and inventive ability" and his mother as, "a woman of high character and beloved by all." His school years left him with a terror of public speaking that followed him all his life. He completed public school without much enthusiasm and then became essentially self-educated, studying only subjects that interested him. He obtained scientific and technical books from the public library, and was an avid reader of Scientific American. In his memoirs he recalls: "I believe that this journal had a great influence in molding my thoughts in mechanical and scientific directions as I grew up with it and used to read it regularly."

In 1870 Tainter started to work for Charles Williams, Jr., a manufacturer of telegraphs and electrical apparatus in Boston, for five dollars a week. Two years later he became associated with Johnson and Whittlemore, manufacturers of electrical instruments in Boston. He stayed with them until the business folded in 1873, and then joined Alvan Clark and Sons, a well-known manufacturing company of large telescopes and optical instruments in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts. As a technician at the Alvan Clark and Sons Company, Tainter assisted with the building of the Equatorial Telescope mounted in the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. He also constructed much of the equipment that was used during the U.S. government expedition to observe the transit of Venus in the South Pacific on December 8, 1874. The Secretary of the Navy appointed Tainter a member of this expedition, and Tainter vividly reveals his role in the event in his memoirs: "Early History of Charles Sumner Tainter." See Series 1, Box 1. [Note: Henry Draper, (1837 1882), a scientist whose collection of papers are also stored in the Archives Center, Series 3, Box 6, was superintendent of the government commission for the observation of the transit of Venus.] After he returned from the expedition in 1875, Tainter rejoined Alvan Clark and Sons Company and stayed there for three years.

Tainter started his own business in 1878 in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts, constructing scientific instruments. It was in Cambridgeport, that he met Alexander Graham Bell. A year later Tainter accepted Bell's proposal to join him in Washington, D.C. to establish a small laboratory. After a series of experiments they developed the radiophone, an instrument for transmitting sound to distant points through the agency of light, using sensitive selenium cells. The radiophone was shown at an electrical exhibition in Paris in 1881, where Tainter was awarded a gold medal and diploma for his part in the invention. Between 1879 and 1880, Tainter and Bell also experimented with and tried to improve on Edison's talking machine.

The Academie des Sciences of Paris awarded Bell the Volta prize in 1880 for his development of the telephone. The prize included $10,000 that Bell used a year later to establish the Volta Laboratory Association, a small research laboratory in Washington, D.C. He asked his cousin, Chichester A. Bell, a chemist from London, and Tainter to join him in this venture. Although they devoted much of their attention to electrical and acoustical research, most of their efforts went into the improvement of Edison's talking machine. Edison had used tinfoil as the recording medium for his first phonograph in 1877, but then abandoned the project and turned his attention to the electric light and power distribution system. Meanwhile, Chichester Bell and Tainter saw the fragile tinfoil as a major obstacle in any further development of the instrument, and after much experimenting came upon the idea of replacing the tinfoil with a wax compound onto which they could engrave the sound waves directly. This invention was patented in May 1886 under the name Graphophone. It was an important step in the development of the phonograph since for the first time it was possible to manufacture the device commercially. Tainter recorded his experiments on the graphophone in thirteen notebooks ("Home Notes") and two large volumes of technical drawings and sketches. See: Series 2, Boxes 1, 2, and 3.

Bell and Tainter recognized Edison as the inventor of the talking machine, and they wanted to work with him and carry the costs for all further experiments in exchange for half the share of the profits, but Edison rejected this proposal. He felt that they wanted to steal his invention. In 1885 the partnership between Bell, his cousin, and Tainter was dissolved, and the graphophone rights were given to a group of Washington court stenographers who felt that the graphophone could best be utilized as a dictaphone. The group subsequently formed the Volta graphophone Company where Tainter continued to work for several years. The Volta Graphophone Company was reorganized two years after its formation as the American Graphophone Company. Eventually Edison sued the Volta Graphophone Company (1894), and the American Graphophone Company (1895-96).

In June 1886 Tainter married Lila R. Munro, daughter of William J. Munro of Newport, Rhode Island. Two years later he suffered a severe case of pneumonia, which was to incapacitate him intermittently for the rest of his life.

The Volta Graphophone Company sold the foreign rights for the graphophone in the spring of 1889 to form the International Graphophone Company. Tainter became associated with this new company and went to Europe to look after its interests there. In the same year the graphophone was exhibited at the Paris Exposition and Tainter was awarded the Decoration of "Officier de L Instruction Publique" from the French government for his invention of the graphophone. Upon his return from Europe Tainter established a factory for the International Graphophone Company in Hartford, Connecticut in 1889. When he left the company in 1890, he launched his own laboratory in Washington, D.C., where he continued to improve on the phonograph and a number of new inventions were patented.

At the Chicago Exposition in 1893 Tainter was asked to manage the exhibition of more than a hundred machines for the American Graphophone Company. In 1897 a fire destroyed Tainter's Washington laboratory and much valuable material was lost, including three volumes of his "Home Notes", which contained some of the findings of his experiments on the graphophone. Three years later the city of Philadelphia awarded the John Scott medal to Chichester Bell and Tainter for their work in connection with the graphophone.

Tainter's chronic illness forced him to suspend his work frequently and seek treatment and relief in various sanatoria and spas both in Europe and in the United States. He and his wife eventually moved to California. They settled in San Diego in June of 1903 to enjoy the better climate there. Again Tainter established a laboratory and continued to work whenever his health allowed. In 1915 he was awarded a gold medal and diploma for his work with the graphophone at the San Francisco Exposition. Tainter's wife died in 1924. Four years later he married Laura Fontaine Onderdonk, widow of Charles G. Onderdonk.

At the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Pittsburgh in December 1934, Tainter was made an Emeritus Life Member, having been a fellow for 55 years. His obituary also mentions that in 1915 Tainter was awarded a gold medal at the Panama Pacific Exposition for his work on the graphophone.

Tainter died on April 20, 1940. He was considered an inventor, a physicist, and a manufacturer of electrical apparatus, but most of all he was known as the father of the talking machine.
Separated Materials:
Materials Located at the National Museum of American History

Medal award given to Charles Sumner Tainter, Exposition Internationale d'Electricite, Paris, 1881. See Accession #: ME*313452.02

Gold medal award given to Charles Sumner Tainter. Panama - Pacific Exposition, 1915. See Accession #: ME*313452.01
The collection was donated by Laura F. Tainter, Charles Sumner Tainter's widow, in 1947 and 1950.
Collection is open for research. Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves.
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.
Physicists  Search this
Inventors  Search this
Electrical engineers  Search this
Light machinery  Search this
Mechanical engineering  Search this
Dictating machine  Search this
Sound recording and reproduction  Search this
Talking machine  Search this
Phonograph  Search this
Laboratory notebooks
Charles Sumner Tainter Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Charles Sumner Tainter Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Online Media:

Social (see also oversized, Box 154)

Collection Creator:
Davis, Benjamin O., Jr., 1912-  Search this
Box 11, Folder 7
Archival materials
Collection Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Collection Rights:
Material is subject to Smithsonian Terms of Use. Should you wish to use NASM material in any medium, please submit an Application for Permission to Reproduce NASM Material, available at Permissions Requests.
Collection Citation:
Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. Collection, Acc. 1992.0023, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
Benjamin O. Davis Jr. Collection
Benjamin O. Davis Jr. Collection / Series 2: Military Career / 2.3: Materials Arranged by Posting / 2.3.13: Far East Air Force (FEAF) Headquarters (Tokyo, Japan), Director of Operations and Training
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
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  • View Social (see also oversized, Box 154) digital asset number 1

Proceedings of the International Congress on Technology and Blindness editor of the Proceedings, Leslie L. Clark

International Congress on Technology and Blindness (1962 : New York)  Search this
Clark, Leslie L  Search this
American Foundation for the Blind  Search this
Physical description:
4 volumes illustrations, portraits
catalogs (documents)
Conference papers and proceedings
Actes de congrès
Blindness  Search this
Blind--Rehabilitation  Search this
Blind, Apparatus for the  Search this
Human-machine systems  Search this
Blindness--rehabilitation  Search this
Man-Machine Systems  Search this
Sensory Aids  Search this
Personnes aveugles--Congrès  Search this
Appareils pour personnes aveugles  Search this
Cécité  Search this
Personnes aveugles--Réadaptation  Search this
Systèmes homme-machine  Search this
Call number:
HV1575 .I61 1963
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries

Panasonic Reel-to-Reel Tape Recorder

metal, plastic, wire, and foam.
6 7/16 × 13 7/8 × 14 1/2 in. (16.4 × 35.3 × 36.8 cm)
tape recorder
circa 1967
Accession Number:
Restrictions & Rights:
See more items in:
Anacostia Community Museum Collection
Data Source:
Anacostia Community Museum
Online Media:

Cyrus Trobbe Music Collection

Trobbe, Cyrus (musician)  Search this
Curran Theater  Search this
Geary Theater  Search this
KFRC (radio station)  Search this
San Francisco Light Opera  Search this
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra  Search this
300 Cubic feet (322 record boxes)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Disc recordings
Card catalog
Sheet music
San Francisco (Calif.)
ca. 1900-1982.
Scope and Contents:
Includes: published music scores (1920-1980) collected by Cy Trobbe, scrapbooks documenting his music career (1919-1980), programs from musical presentations in San Francisco (1913-1980), disc recordings of Trobbe's radio broadcasts on KFRC in 1938; and a card catalog assembled by Trobbe of his collection, arranged by type of music.
Divided into 5 series: (1) Collected music, (2) Scrapbooks, (3) Printed Programs, (4) Disc Recordings, (5) Card Catalog.
Biographical / Historical:
Trobbe was a musician and a leader of musical groups in the San Francisco Bay area for some sixty years. He was born in London and came to the U.S. shortly before 1920. Trobbe found regular work as a violinist and a group leader, assembling musical groups varying in size from small dance orchestras to large theater orchestras. He became a faculty member of what is now San Francisco State University soon after WW II.
Collection donated by Mrs. Cyrus Trobbe, September 30, 1986.
Collection is open for research but is stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Contact the Archives Center for information at or 202-633-3270.
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.
Radio broadcasts  Search this
Sound Recordings and Reproductions  Search this
Musicians -- 20th century  Search this
Musical performances  Search this
Bands (Music) -- 20th century  Search this
Theater  Search this
Scrapbooks -- 20th century
Disc recordings
Card catalog
Sheet music
Cyrus Trobbe Music Collection, 1913-1982, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History

From microphone to ear; modern sound-recording and reproduction technique. Translated by E. Harker

Slot, G  Search this
Physical description:
ix, 258 p. illus. 21 cm
1959, [c1956]
Sound--Recording and reproducing  Search this
Call number:
TK7881.4.S63 1959
TK7881.4.S63 1959
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries

Technical digest; fundamentals of sound recording and reproduction for motion pictures

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences  Search this
Physical description:
viii, 231 p. illus. (incl. diagrs.) 24 cm
Sound--Recording and reproducing  Search this
Call number:
TK7881.4.A16 1929
TK7881.4.A16 1929
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries

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