YOUR HELP IS NEEDED==>
Unexpected challenges caused by a series of business and professional cul de sacs during the Summer and Fall of 2016 have created a domino effect impacting my financial ability to continue to store and preserve my exceptional Performing Arts and History Archive housed in three different geographic locations in California.
The Archive represents one of the most significant independently held and purchased documents of African American performing arts history intended for educational outreach and public access. My Archive does not receive major institutional, foundation or endowment underwriting like museums you have been reading about this Fall. Therefore , the need is greater and frankly more pressing.
Within this focused Archive, you will find hundreds of items relating to Early Recorded Sound 1900-1924 that document the idea of Race and Race Consciousness at the dawn of the new technology known as the cylinder/phonograph record.
Notable relating to the Archive’s collection of dawn of Recorded Sound is a focused documentation of African American Theater 1895-1914 and the songs of early 20th century Black theatrical composers/performers: Bob Cole & J Rosamund Johnson, Will Marion Cooke, Henry Creamer& Turner Layton. Their songs were recorded by white artists such as Collins and Harlan as Blacks were not allowed to record at the dawn of recorded sound with the limited exceptions of Black Vaudevillians, Bert Williams and George Walker and the Black whistler, George W. Johnson. . The Archive is rich in rare related sheet music and is bejeweled by an extraordinary pair of 1904-1910 Season Hammerstein’s Theater of Varieties scrapbooks filled with rare playbills documenting the world of Black Vaudeville Theater at the dawn of the new century.
Also notable is an important collection of the first recordings of Negro Spirituals and Black Preacher Sermons and Singings on rare labels such as Paramount, Black Swan, the ultra rare QRS label, Columbia and Columbia privately pressed labels, Gennett and other labels. Within the Spirituals collection is a related extension of The Spirituals, the early 1939-47 Black Gospel song sheets:first edition printings of many of the iconic Gospel-hymns of Thomas A Dorsey, Chicago based Kenneth Morris and Sallie Martin, Doris Akers and underknown Evangelists. And of course and by extension the 1940-55 first recordings of these Gospel songs on 78rpm recordings and related ephemera from 1947-57 Baptist Church choral directors estates.
The Archive contains a noteworthy Black “News-eum”, a museum of 1795-1915 historic newspapers relating to The Black experience in slavery and emancipation with many Abolitionist era newspapers 1830-1859 and a small group of 1804-05 Charleston newspapers with bold display ads advertising the arrival of Slave Ships and “Auctions of Africans” while still on ship. Also very rare and important are a series of 1890s-1914 Indianapolis “The Freedman” newspapers:extremely brittle copies of the first post Civil War African American newspaper. These are full of important editorials and amazing advertising especially as it relates to entertainment of the time. These will require digitization as soon as possible as just handling them with white gloves, the highly acidic newsprint begins to crumble.
Of special note is a wonderful showcase of the world of Ragtime and Early Jazz.- both Black and White including a collection of first sound recordings of the WC Handy Orchestra, James Reese Europe Orchestra, Pirons New Orleans Orchestra, New Orleans Rhythm Kings, The Original Dixieland Jazz Band , Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong. And then there is the important 1922-28 Columbia Records sound document of Women of the Blues from the iconic Bessie Smith to a wide range of underknown Women of The Blues accompanied at the piano by the young Fletcher Henderson, Clarence Williams and others. There are first edition music scores, books, sheet music, ephemera and still photographs relating to Silent Film with African American actors and a focused collection representing the world of Black Tin Pan Alley Composers 1912-1930*including early and first edition song sheets and sound recordings, * i.e. Andy Razaf, Maceo Pinkard, Shelton Brooks et al
This Archive is a treasure chest of “Race Records”, a marketing sales term of record companies beginning in the 1920s to focus sales for Black consumers and admirers of “Jazz and Blues” music.
Related to Jazz in this Archive is the world of Harlem Renaissance Jazz e.g. the world of 1927-36 Cotton Club , Smalls Paradise and The Savoy Ballroom represented by the well known Bands- Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway,Don Redman, Mills Blue Rhythm Band, Chick Webb and others. The Archive is graced with a very special group of Chart arrangements of famous Cotton Club Revue songs for Jazz Band or Theater Pit Ensemble .
The Jazz Piano World is also well represented with a wonderful group of early Boogie Woogie, American Song Book and Blues sides by Pete Johnson, Albert Ammons, James P Johnson, Art Tatum, Teddy Wilson, Fats Waller, Mary Lou Williams, Hazel Scott among others on labels ranging from Black Swan, Victor, Columbia, early 1940s 12″ Blue Notes and Asch to Victor’s Bluebird label.
As it relates to jazz and history during World War 2, the Archive also has a near complete collection of WW2 V discs recorded by African American musicians for The War Effort, an exceptional and large SF Bay Area WW2 Headline Newspaper Archive ,Radio Acetates of Duke Ellington Orchestra andThe World of Ellington ‘s right hand man , Billy Strayhorn- the complete RCA Victor 78rpm and Vdisc recordings of Billy Strayhorn’s music for Duke Ellington and the smaller label discs including the famous duet of Ellington and Strayhorn playing Strayhorn’s Duet for Piano 4 Hands, Tonk.
Also notable is the special collection of memorabilia of Bill Doggett, my uncle, the renowned 1950s Jazz organ pioneer who began first as a jazz pianist in Harlem in Lucky Millinder’s Savoy Ballroom Orchestra and continued during the mid 1940s as pianist, arranger and Music Director for Ella Fitzgerald. This memorabilia comes from The Doggett family: rare family photos from 1935-1960s as well as my collection of his recordings from 1941-1961. This is important as the critical archive of the estate of Bill Doggett was lost in an well known public auction that was neither announced to or authorized by the Doggett Family.
Also of note, The Archive has a core area dedicated to the theme of Racial Uplift and the world of The Black presence in Classical Music. There are early print Miniature scores and the first studio recordings of Classical Black Composers including 19th century, James Bland and Louis Gottschalk, early 20th Century British/Black composer,Samuel Coledridge Taylor, “The Black Mahler”, William Grant Still, composer. Still also figures prominently credited on the early “Racial Uplift” Black Swan 78s of 1920-24 as W G Still . There are 1930s-60s Political and Progressive ephemera, radio acetates including the politically progressive 1940s world of Earl Robinson-Paul Robeson in sound recordings and scores to The Ballad for Americans, the only known commercial studio recording of Boxer, Joe Louis, a private rehearsal recording of a William Grant Still art song with his wife Verna Avery at the piano.
Last but not least, The Archive represents one of the most important recorded sound and print documents of The African American Concert Singer 1920-1965 privately held including the rare Concert Black Swan recordings of aspiring concert singers of the early Harlem Renaissance and a vast 1939-1962 “Musical America” collection with reviews of concerts/recitals of emerging and famous singers and related vintage booking advertising.
What is important to note about my intention in creating this Archive is that it is a “teaching and research archive”, one intended for active use in classrooms and community settings versus strictly museum exhibition.
As the great grandson of ex slaves Abbey and Henry Clarke of Richmond Virginia, two of the founding directors of the first Black church built after the Civil War burning of Richmond- Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church[September 1867], it is frankly a tribute to my ancestors and inspired by my historical mentor, the great Arthur Schomburg that I have assembled this important historical Archive.
To learn more about the history of my work as an Archivist, lecturer and historian, please visit my website[open in Google Chrome only] www.billdoggettproductions.com
WHAT YOUR IMMEDIATE ASSISTANCE WILL HELP SECURE
1. Remove the risk of the threat of loss of the Archive from imminent storage bill defaults by helping to create a greater financial foundation for the storage of the collection in December through 2017
2. Provide a visibility a call to action to find a Library of Science graduate student to assist the collection by pursuing a Library of Science Graduate program work study relationship to formally catalog the Archive in spread sheet data bases that will enable future grant writing for preservation and future digitization of aspects and eventually the entire Archive.
The Archive that I have created was done so expressly for intergenerational public access
*IMPORTANT NOTE: In 2014, I wrote two Preservation grants for this Archive but in the competition I did not prevail. One of those grant proposals went to The Grammy Foundation for a grant for cataloging.
3. Help move the ball forward in this visibility crisis to
locate a permanent home for the Archive, a home at which I could prospectively assist the curation of the Archive for specific exhibition purposes. This is the model that the legendary Arthur Schomburg used with New York Public Library which bought his collection and then hired him to curate it. The collection is now the centerpiece of NYPL’s The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Who knows ….perhaps rhetorically/proverbially with a different institution, lightning strikes twice……