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Jazz Archives Fellowship Program

Angela Lawrence and Craig Arthur
Angela Lawrence and Craig Arthur

Jazz Fellows
The Jazz Fellows with IJS and Dana colleagues

Jarrett Drake and Anders Griffen
Jarrett Drake and Anders Griffen

Dustin Witsman and Krista White
Dustin Witsman and Krista White

Photographs taken by Ed Berger.

The Jazz Archives Fellowship program continued this spring with the arrival of the fellows the week of March 4, 2013 to complete their projects. As part of their fellowship, the three archival professionals were charged with processing a small portion of a collection at the Institute of Jazz Studies (IJS) and then storyboarding a possible digital exhibit.

Jarrett Drake worked with Anders Griffen, project archivist of the Women in Jazz Collections. He spent the week with a portion of that collection, which belonged to Ella Fitzgerald. The collection contains more than 1,000 pieces of printed sheet music compositions and arrangements, written correspondence, and other materials. Drake's focus was a subset of that collection that included letters from different musicians and composers who wrote scores for Fitzgerald.

Drake co-authored what is called an electronic finding aid in the archival world, a document that contains detailed information about the contents of a collection. Finding aids help researchers in locating specific historic materials, and are created using the Encoded Archival Description (EAD), an international standard created by the Library of Congress and the Society of American Archivists. After completing his finding aid, Drake worked with Digital Humanities Librarian Krista White to storyboard a possible digital exhibit on his work that IJS could use in the future. Using the concept of the letters, Drake thought of creating an exhibit entitled, "Sincerely Ella," which would display some of the letters and play clips from the scores.

Dustin Witsman also worked with Anders Griffen on a part of the Women in Jazz Collections, specifically sorting the audio and video materials of the Abbey Lincoln collection. It includes all of her collected recordings, and Wistman worked with a subset of over 200 recordings of Lincoln's commercial albums, performances, rehearsals, outtakes from studio sessions, etc. He produced a preliminary inventory in the form of a spreadsheet which will be expanded. While processing, Witsman made note of particularly interesting items that could be used in a digital exhibit. The exhibit would feature a globe-like display which patrons would be able to move around and click on for more information about the venues at which Lincoln performed.

Craig Arthur's project was conducted under the mentorship of Angela Lawrence and centered on the Adrian Rollini collection. Rollini was a multi-instrumentalist who is known best as a bass saxophone player with the California Ramblers. He invented a novelty wind instrument called a "goofus."

Arthur worked on co-creating a finding aid for a sub-series of the collection that features correspondence from the Dutch researcher Tom Faber who began a biography of Rollini but was unable to complete it due to his untimely death. Arthur's digital exhibit storyboard would use the idea of a scrapbook to feature some of the items in the collection.

The fellowship program was launched with the goal of expanding diversity and diversity awareness in the archival field and has had great success with its inaugural program. The finding aid for the Abbey Lincoln and Ella Fitzgerald collections will soon be up online, and the fellows look forward to continuing their work on the digital exhibits. Craig Arthur echoed a statement made by many of the fellows when he said, "I learned a great deal at IJS and am extremely appreciative of this all-too-rare opportunity. Without a doubt, the IJS Archival Fellowship is my best professional experience to date."

Posted April 2013