Top of page

Jazz Collections at Library of Congress

Share this post:

The discovery five years ago of the Thelonious Monk-John Coltrane 1957 Carnegie Hall concert tapes focused attention on the deep jazz collections here at the Library of Congress ( The tapes, found while preserving the Voice of America Collection, were subsequently issued by Blue Note Records and became a sensation in the jazz world. Since then, more and more musicians, scholars, researchers and writers have been coming to the Library to see what else is here.

They find that there are many important jazz collections in the Library’s Motion Pictures, Broadcasting & Recorded Sound Division, Prints & Photographs Division and the American Folklife Center. But the first place to start jazz research at LC is the Music Division, which has particularly rich resources for jazz research, including scores, manuscript material, sheet music, books, serials and copyright deposit lead sheets. Our catalogued general collections contain music for jazz ensembles, music history and criticism, as well as method books, transcriptions and biographies.

Ella Fitzgerald w/Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown. William Gottlieb Collection.
Ella Fitzgerald w/Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown. William Gottlieb Collection.

The Music Division also holds the papers and music of Louis Bellson, Ella Fitzgerald, Shelly Manne, Charles Mingus, Gerry Mulligan, Carmen McRae, Billy Taylor, Laurindo Almeida, Billy Byers, Dexter Gordon, Charlie Barnet and Billy May. More jazz treasures include correspondence from Louis Armstrong (in miscellaneous manuscripts), an unpublished typescript of a biography by Nobles Sissle about his experiences with James Reese Europe (“Happy In Hell”), and various compositions commissioned by the Library and premiered in the Library’s concert series, including works by Benny Carter, Muhal Richard Abrams, George Russell, Gerald Wilson, Anthony Braxton, Don Byron, Paquito d’Rivera, Cecil Taylor, Billy Taylor, John Zorn, Dave Douglas, Roland Hanna and others.

The Music Division has also begun to conduct a series of “Jazz Conversations” which are being made available as webcasts on the Library’s website. These video interviews include in-depth discussions with pianist Dave Brubeck, guitarist Jim Hall , pianist Henry Butler, pianist, songwriter and producer Allen Toussaint, composer Guillermo Klein and others.

Comments (2)

  1. Hello:

    My fiance died years ago — I have been maintaining his huge jazz record collection. It is time for me to think about bequeathing it. There are hundreds of records. I would like your advice on the best place for these records that they could be made available to the public, if possible. Any suggestions? I assume the Library of Congress has no need of them, but there may be other libraries around the country that have specialized jazz collections — who would not mind records, rather than CDs. Any thoughts? Much appreciated.


    • Thank you for your question, Kate. I suggest getting in touch with a reference librarian in the Library’s Recorded Sound Research Center by using our Ask a Librarian service:

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.