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IJS receives $165,000 grant, to catalog women in jazz collections

Album cover of Abbey Lincoln's It's Magic

The Institute of Jazz Studies (IJS), based in the John Cotton Dana Library on the Rutgers-Newark campus, received a $165,000 grant awarded by the Council on Library and Information Resources, for cataloging hidden special collections and archives.

IJS received the grant for a two-year project that deals with five separate archival collections of prominent women in jazz. The first four include:

  • Ella Fitzgerald (1917–1996), known as America's "First Lady of Song," whose collection includes music manuscripts, artwork, and memorabilia;
  • Abbey Lincoln (1930–2010), a singular vocal stylist, composer, and civil rights activist, whose holdings include notebooks of her writings, scrapbooks, music manuscripts and scores, and video and audio cassettes of unissued performances and interviews;
  • Annie Ross (1930– ), singer and "vocalese" pioneer, who is still active and recently named an NEA Jazz Master. This collection includes music manuscripts, personal papers, and photographs, and audio and videotapes of interviews and performances;
  • Victoria Spivey (1906–1976), a blues singer whose career extended from 1920s recordings with jazz legends King Oliver and Louis Armstrong to a 1960s association with young admirer Bob Dylan. Spivey's collection, a subset of a larger one belonging to producer and recording historian Len Kunstadt, consists of correspondence, photographs, business records, discographical research, and unissued session tapes.

The final collection to be processed during the project focuses on Wilma Dobie (1918–2005), a pioneering promoter, journalist, and jazz activist, whose collection consists of photographs, correspondence, programs, clippings, artist files, and memorabilia, as well as extensive archival materials pertaining to the career of the early jazz bandleader Fate Marable (1880–1947).

IJS plans to create online finding aids for these collections, to assist researchers in discovering and accessing the records and artifacts in each archive. Vincent Pelote, Head of Technical Services/Sound Archivist in IJS, is the principal investigator for this two year project.

The Council on Library and Information Resources is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning. It is supported by the Library of Congress, National Endowment for the Humanities, EDUCAUSE, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and others.

Posted Janaury 25, 2012