Thinking About Eric Dolphy On His Birthday

He was only 36 when he died in Berlin in 1964, but the gifted, avant-garde innovator Eric Dolphy (June 20, 1928-June 29, 1964) helped change the landscape for jazz improvisers through his collaborations with John Coltrane, Gunther Schuller, Charles Mingus and his own projects. He was a multi-instrumentalist who found his distinctive voice on alto […]

Alvin Ailey and the Black Experience

The following is a guest blog post from Dance Curator Libby Smigel and Howard University intern Jacquelyn Chin: The Music Division was selected to host one of the Library’s three spring internships from Howard University. Dance archivist Libby Smigel is working with Jacquelyn Chin on the Division’s Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation collection.  A senior psychology […]

William P. Gottlieb’s Celebration of Women

William P Gottlieb was a music journalist and photographer whose byline appeared in The Washington Post, Downbeat and Record Changer from 1938-1948. He taught himself to use a speed graphic camera and began to shoot musicians to illustrate his articles. The Library purchased his collection in 1995 and scanned all his prints and negatives, now […]

Mary Cardwell Dawson: First Lady of Opera

The following is a guest post from Music Reference Specialist Sam Perryman. Some people know that the Music Division is home to the National Negro Opera Company Collection. They also know that, while it’s not the first African American opera company, it was one of the largest.  It was founded and managed by Mary Lucinda […]

Remembering Lil Hardin Armstrong

Sunday February 3 gives us the opportunity to remember one of the first important songwriters in jazz, Lillian Hardin Armstrong. She was born on that day in 1898 in Memphis and may be best known as Louis Armstrong’s second wife and writer of some of his enduring classics, such as “Struttin’ with Some Barbecue,” which […]

Happy 95th Birthday to Max Roach

Today marks the 95th birthday of jazz drummer, bandleader and educator Max Roach (1924-2007). His papers are among the most heavily researched jazz archival collections in the Music Division revealing much about jazz and the intersection of modernism and the development of Black political consciousness in 20th-century music. And though the collection includes a draft […]

Announcing New Acquisition: The Billy Strayhorn Collection

In January of 2017, I traveled to a suburb outside of Phoenix, Arizona to meet Dr. Gregory Morris and family. Morris is the nephew of Billy Strayhorn and Executor of the Billy Strayhorn Estate. Dr. Morris, a retired educator originally from Pittsburgh, kept the collection in safe hands for nearly five decades. The papers, including […]

Happy Birthday Abbey!

Today marks the birthday of singer, songwriter, actress, and political activist Abbey Lincoln (Anna Marie Wooldridge August 6, 1930 – August 14, 2010). One of many singers influenced by Billie Holiday, she made her breakthrough in 1956 with her first recording, Abbey Lincoln’s Affair, and her appearance in the film The Girl Can’t Help It. Though she […]