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  February 24, 2003

Charters Expand Dodd Center's
Music Archive With Jazz Recordings
By Sherry Fisher

Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Billie Holiday have found a home in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.

Recordings by these jazz figures and others have been added to the Samuel and Ann Charters Archive of Blues and Vernacular African American Musical Culture at the Dodd Center, thanks to the Charters. There are about 2,500 recordings in the collection.

Image: Elizabeth Watts and Kristin Eshelman look over the Charters collection.
Elizabeth Watts, left, a graduate student in history, looks over some of the new archival contributions given to the Charters to the Dodd Center, with Kristin Eshelman, curator of multimedia collections.

Photo by Dollie Harvey

The Charters also arranged a significant donation by Bill Belmont of Fantasy Records, of re-releases of Fantasy's Original Jazz Classics Series. These recordings cover the period of the late 1940s to the early 1950s. "They are an invaluable time capsule of this crucial period of jazz's development," Charters says.

Charters, a music historian, author, and producer, and his wife Ann, a professor of English at UConn, donated an extensive collection of archival material to the Dodd Center several years ago. The Samuel and Ann Charters Archive of Blues and Vernacular African American Musical Culture includes everything from recordings and sheet music to field notes, musicians' contracts, and correspondenc e. Samuel Charters is a Grammy winner and a member of the Blues Hall of Fame.

Future additions to the jazz component of the archive will include recordings by artists including Cab Calloway, Miles Davis, and Charlie Mingus. Avant-garde jazz of the last decade will also be included.

This semester, students in certain music courses will have access to digital sound recordings placed on reserve by their instructors through WebCT. Materials are from the Samuel and Ann Charters archive and the music and dramatic arts library collections. The availability of digital recordings is part of a pilot project launched by the UConn libraries.

Among the material recently donated by the Charters is the first edition of a book, Slave Songs of the United States, published in 1867. It is thought to be the first collection of songs created by Africans in America.

A study and listening station, located in the multimedia room of Archives and Special Collections in the Dodd Center, is open to researchers. The Fantasy Original Jazz Classics Series is expected to be available in April.

For more information about the Samuel and Ann Charters Archive, contact Kristin Eshelman, curator of multimedia collections at the Dodd Center, at 860.486.4506 or via e-mail.

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