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Tulane University Library

William Ransom Hogan Archive of New Orleans Jazz, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library Special Collections

Collection Profile

The Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University was established with Ford Foundation funding in 1958 as the Archive of New Orleans Jazz and was posthumously renamed in honor of William Ransom Hogan, the chair of the Department of History who wrote the initial grant proposal. Ford funding enabled an oral history fieldwork project with pioneers of New Orleans jazz under the direction of William Russell, the archive's first curator, and his successor, Richard B. Allen. This generated nearly 2,000 reels of taped interviews with written transcripts, which is the largest collection of jazz oral history extant.

In addition to the interviews, the archive hosts a full range of bibliographic materials on jazz, 11,000 photographs, 65,000 recorded sound items, 55,000 sheet music titles, 350 films, 225 linear feet of manuscripts and vertical files, and artifacts such as vintage phonographs and cylinder players, art works, and a select assortment of musical instruments. Although the collection development policy of the Hogan Jazz Archive began with a very tight focus on traditional New Orleans jazz, it has been expanded in recent years to include a multiplicity of New Orleans-related genres, such as ragtime, blues, gospel, rhythm and blues, Mardi Gras Indian chants, rock and roll, and non-indigenous variants, such as zydeco.

Among the significant personal collections of musicians held by the archive are those of Dominic "Nick" LaRocca, leader of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, which made the first jazz record in 1917; the sheet music library of John Robichaux's orchestra, the main competition to Charles "Buddy" Bolden, the celebrated ur-jazz avatar; the papers of guitarist and writer Danny Barker, including materials belonging to his uncle, drummer Paul Barbarin; photographs collected and taken by drummer Ray Bauduc (Bob Crosby Orchestra); and the papers of trumpeter Max Kaminsky, including original scores from his State Department tour of Asia with Jack Teagarden in 1958. The Ralston Crawford New Orleans Jazz Collection is comprised of 840 photographic prints made by the Canadian artist from 1949 through 1961, comprising a unique vision of that era. Much of the photography and sheet music was donated by musical producer and caricaturist Al Rose, who discovered a Buddy Bolden invitation, the only original document deriving from that musician's career, at a flea market. Recently, the rock critic Robert Palmer's papers have taken the collection in some new and surprising directions.

Patrons using the Hogan Jazz Archive represent the interdisciplinary nature of jazz studies and the international appeal of jazz as an exemplary American vernacular music. Among the scholarly publications reflecting research at the archive are Thomas Brothers, Louis Armstrong's New Orleans (2006) and Lawrence Gushee, Pioneers of Jazz: The Story of the Original Creole Band (2005). Documentary filmmakers such as Ken Burns (Jazz) and Don McGlyn (Louis Prima: The Wildest) have also made intensive use of its resources, but the collection is open to anyone who loves jazz, whether teacher, student, or aficionado.

Collection Profile: Bruce Boyd Raeburn
Overview: Wilbur E. Meneray
Illustrations: Harriet Blum

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