Ella on Her 100th Birthday

Portrait of Ella Fitzgerald, New York, N.Y., ca. Nov. 1946. Photograph by William P. Gottlieb. Gottlieb Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.


Tomorrow, April 25, marks the one and only Ella Fitzgerald’s 100th birthday. Fitzgerald’s impact on American music is undeniable, and her legacy and influence continue to inspire new generations of artists today. To celebrate the First Lady of Song on her special day, the Library’s Jazz Specialist Larry Appelbaum will give a talk tomorrow (Tuesday, April 25) at 12 noon in Whittall Pavilion called “Celebrating the 100th Birthday of Ella Fitzgerald” where he’ll bring out relevant collection material and lead a discussion about Fitzgerald’s place both in our collections and in American music.

The William P. Gottlieb Collection of photographs documents jazz artists in New York City and Washington, DC clubs between 1938 and 1948. Gottlieb, while on assignment for the Washington Post, Down Beat magazine, and Record Changer, photographed and interviewed the most noteworthy jazz artists of the time, including Fitzgerald. See Gottlieb’s gorgeous photographs with her beaming smile and fantastic hat!

Portrait of Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Milt (Milton) Jackson, and Timmie Rosenkrantz, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1947. Photograph by William P. Gottlieb. Gottlieb Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.

And for more context, take a listen to Gottlieb saying a few words about going to see Fitzgerald sing in that spectacular hat and how he got his special shot.

Additionally, the Music Division is home to the Ella Fitzgerald Collection; the collection does not include Fitzgerald’s personal papers, but rather it consists of musical arrangements made for her by more than fifty arrangers and orchestrators including Benny Carter, Billy May, Nelson Riddle, and more. To read more about the collection and a description of its contents, see the collection’s finding aid.

Search our online catalog for more books, photographs, and sound recordings of/by the First Lady of Song. More questions about how to find more Fitzgerald material? Our reference librarians are available by phone at (202) 707-5507 and via email using the Ask A Librarian reference service. Happy Birthday, Ella!

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