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W. Royal Stokes Collection of Music Photoprints and Interviews

Sun Ra  Search this
Gaskin, Leonard, 1920-  Search this
Taylor, Billy  Search this
Sullivan, Maxine, 1911-1987  Search this
Wells, Ronnie  Search this
Whiting, Margaret  Search this
Towers, Jack  Search this
Venuti, Joe, 1903-1978  Search this
Pullen, Don, 1941-  Search this
Roney, Wallace  Search this
Pizzarelli, Bucky, 1926-  Search this
Pizzarelli, John, 1960-  Search this
Shaw, Artie, 1910-2004  Search this
Shepp, Archie, 1937-  Search this
Sanders, Pharaoh  Search this
Grant, Felix, 1918-1993  Search this
Scott, Jimmy  Search this
McPhail, Jimmy  Search this
McPartland, Marian  Search this
McFerrin, Bobby  Search this
Krall, Diana  Search this
O'Connell, Helen  Search this
Mulligan, Gerry  Search this
Metheny, Pat  Search this
McShann, Jay  Search this
Horn, Shirley, 1934-  Search this
Hinton, Milt, 1910-  Search this
Hill, Andrew, 1937-  Search this
Hendricks, Jon, 1921-  Search this
Keane, Helen  Search this
Kaminsky, Max, 1908-  Search this
Jordan, Sheila, 1928-  Search this
Humes, Helen, 1913-1981  Search this
Hampton, Lionel  Search this
Harris, Eddie, 1934-  Search this
Heath, Jimmy, 1926-  Search this
Frishberg, Dave  Search this
Ennis, Ethel  Search this
Farmer, Art, 1928-  Search this
Flanagan, Tommy, 1930-  Search this
Hampton, Slide  Search this
D'Rivera, Paquito, 1948-  Search this
Daniels, Billy  Search this
Davison, Bill  Search this
Donegan, Dorothy, 1922-  Search this
Crouch, Stanley, 1945-  Search this
Conyers, John, 1929-  Search this
Cruz, Celia, 1920-  Search this
Byard, Jaki  Search this
Brown, Ruth  Search this
Carter, Betty, 1930-  Search this
Byron, Don  Search this
Betts, Keter, 1928-  Search this
Bellson, Louis  Search this
Bowie, Lester, 1941-  Search this
Blakey, Art, 1919-1990  Search this
Allen, Steve, 1921-2000  Search this
Adderly, Nat, 1931-  Search this
Bailey, Benny, 1925-  Search this
Stokes, W. Royal, Dr., 1930-  Search this
Armstrong, Louis, 1901-1971  Search this
Davis, Miles  Search this
Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974  Search this
Gillespie, Dizzy, 1917-  Search this
10 Cubic feet (39 boxes)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Publicity photographs
Publicity photographs of musicians and entertainers, mostly jazz musicians, such as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, and Dizzy Gillespie, but including many rock and even a few classical performers. The collection also contains tape recorded radio interviews conducted between 1970 and 2003. In addition there are posters relating to musical performances.
Scope and Contents:
This collection was formed by W. Royal Stokes in the course of his professional work as a music and arts critic. It is composed primarily of publicity portraits of musical performers, both single acts and groups. The emphasis is on jazz musicians and singers, although many rock stars and groups, and other popular musical performers are included. Even a few classical musicians are represented. The pictures are primarily mass-produced black and white publicity photographs distributed to newspapers, writers, etc., by agents for entertainment personalities. Some prints were made from the original negatives, while others clearly were made from copy negatives after typography was stripped together with a print and re-photographed. However, there are some rarer original photographs included in the collection, such as personal color snapshots, higher quality prints by art photographers, etc. Nearly all the prints are unmounted, and are 8 x 10 inches or smaller in size. The bulk of the photographs date from circa 1970 to 2000, however, a number of the earlier photographs are included as well as slightly later examples.
The collection is divided into nine series.

Series 1, Photographs of Musicians and Ensembles, circa 1970-2000; undated

Subseries 1.1, Musicians and Ensembles

Subseries 1.2, Recording Company Photographs

Subseries 1.3, Unidentified Musicians

Series 2, Photographs of Performances, 1987-2002; undated

Subseries 2.1, Music Festivals, 1987-2002; undated

Subseries 2.2, Concerts, Music Clubs and Other Venues, 1920s-1940s and circa 1980s-1990s; undated

Series 3, Formal and Informal Groups, circa 1980s-2000; undated

Series 4, Photographs of Musicians in Films, Radio, Television and Theater, 1940s-2000; undated Series 5, Photographs of Subjects and Products related to Musicians and Music, 1970-2000; undated

Series 6, Photographs of Non-Musicians, circa 1980s-2000; undated

Series 7, Interviews with Musicians, 1970-2003

Series 8, Audiovisual Materials, 1970-2003

Subseries 8.1, Audio Recordings - Audiocassettes

Subseries 8.2, Audio Recordings-Audiotapes

Series 9, Posters, 1976-1990; undated
Biographical / Historical:
Born in Washington, D.C., W. Royal Stokes served in the Army and then embarked on an academic career, teaching at the University of Pittsburgh, Tufts University, Brock University and the University of Colorado. He left the academic profession in 1969 and become a writer, broadcaster and lecturer, journalist, and critic and authority on jazz music. A follower of jazz since his teens in the 1940s, Stokes has written about music for such publications as Down Beat, Jazz Times, and the Washington Post, and hosted the public radio shows "I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say . . ." and "Since Minton's". Today he is the editor of the quarterly Jazz Notes, and is the author of The Jazz Scene: An Informal History From New Orleans to 1990 and Swing Era New York: The Jazz Photographs of Charles Peterson.. He is also the author of Living the Jazz Life: Conversations with Forty Musicians about Their Careers in Jazz (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2000). Dr. Stokes lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Materials in the Archives Center, National Museum of Ameican History:
Duke Ellington Collection, 1928-1988 (AC0301)

Herman Leonard Photoprints, 1948-1993

Frank Driggs Collection of Duke Ellington Photographic Reference Prints [copyprints], 1923-1972

Jazz Oral History Collection, 1988-1990

Ernie Smith Jazz Film Collection, 1910s-1970s (mostly 1930s-1960s)

Jeffrey Kliman Photographs

Stephanie Myers Jazz Photographs, 1984-1987, 2005

Chico O'Farrill Papers

Paquito D'Rivera Papers, 1989-2000.

Louis Armstrong Music Manuscripts, undated

Tito Puente Papers, 1962-1965.

Audrey Wells "Women in Jazz Radio Series, 1981-1982

Mongo Santamaria Papers, 1965-2001

Ramsey Lewis Collection, 1950-2007

Earl Newman Collection of Monterey Jazz Festival Posters, 1963-2009

James Arkatov Collection of Jazz Photographs, 1995-2003

Francis Wolff Jazz Photoprints, 1953-1966

Floyd Levin Jazz Reference Collection, circa 1920s-2006

Jazz Oral History Program Collection, 1992-2009

Leslie Schinella Collection of Gene Krupa Materials
Donated by W. Royal Stokes to the Archives Center in 2001.
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.
Jazz musicians -- 1950-2000 -- United States  Search this
Musicians  Search this
Publicity  Search this
Portraits -- Musicians  Search this
Popular music -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Entertainers  Search this
Rock music  Search this
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints -- Silver gelatin -- 1950-2000
Publicity photographs
W. Royal Stokes Collection of Jazz Musicians' Photographs, ca. 1970-2000, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
W. Royal Stokes Collection of Music Photoprints and Interviews
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Online Media:

Kenneth H. Sparnon Collection

Community Life, Div. of (NMAH, SI)  Search this
Sparnon, Kenneth H., 1895-1972  Search this
Sparnon, Arabella S.  Search this
Sparnon, Arabella S.  Search this
0.5 Cubic feet (3 boxes)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Rochester (N.Y.)
Syracuse (N.Y.)
Kenneth Sparnon, entertainer, musician and arranger was also an orchestra leader and musical director of radio station WSYR in Syracuse and WHEC in Rochester, New York. This collection includes scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, photographs of himself and other performers, advertising, programs, some correspondence, and broadcast transcriptions (acetate).
Scope and Contents:
The Sparnon collection consists of four scrapbooks, some loose news clippings, a music cue sheet for a movie, a script for the orchestra to follow in a "strike" comedy routine used in September 1931, a folder of programs for events at which Sparnon played, and articles written by Sparnon concerning his work.

The scrapbooks contain advertisements of movies at which Sparnon played, radio schedules and announcements, and newspaper write-ups of Sparnon. The movie and play reviews, while he was in both Dover, N.J. and in Syracuse, cover both silent films and the early talkies. The vaudeville announcements include personalities such as Kate Smith, Burns and Allen, and Edgar Bergen and his friend, Charlie.

The four scrapbooks within themselves are not in chronological order. However the first one, 1912-1930 is arranged in four sections: news clippings, announcements, school recitals and programs, and letters of reference and appreciation.

The Sparnon Collection is of value to those interested in: the early film years, the synchronization of music with film, musical programs on radio, and the biography of Kenneth H. Sparnon.
Arranged topically.
Biographical / Historical:
Kenneth H. Sparnon was born December 8, 1895 in Chatham, New Jersey. He was the son of the Reverend Robert 0. Sparnon, pastor of the West Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church in Rochester, New York from 1913 to 1916.

Sparnon grew up in Rochester. He studied harmony and theory at the New York Conservatory of Music and he studied piano and organ under James W. Bleecker, founder of the New York Settlement School of Music.

At the age of 14 Sparnon gave a piano recital in Carnegie Hall. In 1912 he was a piano instructor in Bayonne, New Jersey and continued to teach piano when he worked in Dover, New Jersey. He also was the organist at the Rochester Emanuel Church in this year. His first professional engagement was as church organist in Orange, N.J. About 1913-1914, he directed the West High School Orchestra in Rochester and was leader of the boy's glee club.

At seventeen, Sparnon was the youngest orchestra leader on the Loew's vaudeville circuit, conducting the pit band in Loew's Palace in Brooklyn. In 1918 he started work at the Baker Theater in Dover, N.J. and remained in Dover until late in 1929. The Baker Theater showed movies, vaudeville, and legitimate stage plays. After December 1924 Sparnon conducted the New Baker Theater Orchestra. Sparnon played at all performances of vaudeville and movies calling his performances "Picture Play Concerts" or "Orchestral Photo Play Concerts." He played between the acts when legitimate plays were performed.

Before the "talkies" Sparnon specialized in synchronizing music to the silent pictures, newsreels, novelties, and features. Sparnon played overtures when talking pictures appeared in 1928.

During the summer of 1924 Sparnon was pianist on the Keith vaudeville circuit. He also directed the Metropolitan Concert Trio at the Estonia-Minot House, a resort hotel in Asbury Park where he played programs in the mornings for the guests.

In 1924 Sparnon helped to form and was director of a 45 piece band in Dover, New Jersey. The band played at charity concerts, parades and other occasions. It played on Sunday afternoons in the park, at Memorial Day parades, New Year's Eve, and for the hospital fund-raising. It played as Sparnon's Concert Band into 1929. While in Dover, Sparnon also directed music for the Elks' Memorial Services for several years and played for other events including the Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, and at the 1929 local rally celebrating a Republican victory. In 1929, Sparnon played at the Saturday night dances held in the Bergen Building.

In 1926, Sparnon joined Radio Station WJZ in New York where he conducted the "Master Musician's Hour" for several years.

In 1930, Sparnon went to RKO Keith's in Syracuse where he led a group of 12 men for three years. They were known as "Ken Sparnon and his merry gang of RKOlians". As of that year, he had a library of 5,000 pieces of music which he had gathered because of his synchronization of motion pictures. Also, as of May 11,1930, Sparnon was an associate member of the National Academy of Music.

In Syracuse, Sparnon had a reputation for playing overtures with humor and novelty which were appropriate to the movie or the season. He did the unusual and the unexpected. One article described Sparnon's work as follows:

When Griffith made "Birth of a Nation", more than a tinkly, second-rate piano was needed to accompany it. So the theater orchestra was started. After that time, musical backgrounds (cueing) became essential for each film. Then came talkies which doomed the lavish orchestras. Some of the musicians went to work at the studios. Sparnon changed and when he went to Syracuse he gave the public what was almost an extra vaudeville act. His experience in synchronization was valuable for the vaudeville acts. His music also helped in the transition to the movie setting pace and mood.

In Syracuse, Sparnon played on Radio Station WSYR with the RKOlians from Keith's. On May 25, 1930, he also became Master of Ceremonies on Monday nights and Wednesday nights for the "Little Theater of the Air". Sparnon continued in radio for many years. When he started he went on radio to get wider exposure so that the people would then come to see him in person. Perhaps because of his experience with the movies, he was famous for timing out every show in the plotted period.

In Sept. 20, 1931, Sparnon said that "...there will always be music in the theater... the public will always want to see artists in the flesh." This remark alluded to movie theaters with vaudeville shows.

Sparnon married his harpist, Arabella Simiele, in July 1935. He was one of the first radio orchestra directors to feature the harp with all types of music from classical to jazz.

In September 1932 Sparnon became director of the RKO Palace Theater Orchestra in Rochester. In June 1933, he accompanied Arthur Tracy, "the Street Singer," on tour. On June 8, 1933 Sparnon was made musical director of Radio Station WSYR in Syracuse.

He also conducted the "Ken Sparnon String Orchestra" which was carried on the NBC Blue Network coast-to-coast. He had the string ensemble in Syracuse from 1934-1937. He also played dinner music from Schraff's Restaurant in Syracuse three times a week which was carried over the NBC network.

Sparnon became program director of Rochester Radio Station, WSAY in 1937. Sparnon was made the musical director of Radio Station WHEC in Rochester on February 23. Between 1937 and 1941 Sparnon played the "Twin Keyboards" with Matt Pierce over WHEC. Between 1937 and at least 1944 Ken Sparnon and his string orchestra played over WHEC. From 1938 to Oct. 3, 1946 Sparnon was with Radio Station WHEC. Among his programs, he conducted the Gold and Silver Orchestra on Sunday nights at 6:45 p.m. for people celebrating their anniversary. On July 7, 1939, while he was still at WHEC (which was a CBS affiliate), Sparnon opened at the Hotel Seneca Grill in Rochester. In August 1940, Sparnon directed and produced "This is My Land", a new series from Rochester on CBS. During World War II, Sparnon produced shows for service personnel.

While he was in Rochester, Sparnon was a member and on the board of directors of the Rochester Musician's Association, Local 66, American Federation of Musicians.

On October 3, 1946 Sparnon joined the station relations staff of Broadcast Music, Inc. to provide special service to musical directors and managers of BMI-licensed stations. BMI set up a model radio station library. Sparnon was placed in charge of the course on the organization and maintenance of such libraries at the participants' radio stations.

In 1959, Mr. and Mrs. Sparnon moved to Roanoke, Virginia where he was Eastern Regional Director of Station Relations for BMI.

In May 1965 Sparnon retired from BMI and he and his wife moved to Sarasota, Florida. He died on June 16, 1972 after a 10 month illness.
Collection donated by Arabella S. Sparnon, Febuary 18, 1981.
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.
Vaudeville  Search this
Radio -- 1910-1970  Search this
Musical arrangers  Search this
Theater -- 1910-1970  Search this
Musicians  Search this
Scrapbooks -- 20th century
Clippings -- 20th century
Photographs -- 19th century
Kenneth H. Sparnon Collection, 1912-1961, Archives Center, National Museum of American History. Gift of Arabella S. Sparnon.
See more items in:
Kenneth H. Sparnon Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History

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