The Archives pursues an acquisitions policy that will increase the research value and utility of its holdings, particularly recordings, photographs, radio broadcast materials, manuscripts and archival materials concerning all aspects of jazz. Of special interest to the archives are materials that document jazz in the Washington, D.C. area, particularly materials that complement existing documentary records in the collections.
In August 2006, the Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives acquired a collection of commercial recordings from jazz music specialist and veteran radio broadcaster, Paul Anthony. The collection contains more than 5,100 LP records, almost entirely of American jazz artists of the mid- to late-20th century. The recordings were acquired throughout his extended career as a radio broadcaster, principally during the years in which he produced shows devoted to jazz for radio station WRC in Washington, DC (1966–1972); National Public Radio (1972–1979); and for radio station WGMS in Washington, DC (1980–1990).
During May and September 2011, the archives acquired interviews and shows recorded by Mr. Anthony as well as additional commercially-issued recordings. The collection consists of 140 (10”) reels; 32 (7”) reels; 10 (5”) reels; 5 LP recordings; 1-78 rpm; and 14 audio cassettes. Mr. Anthony also donated an Akai 4000 DS MK2 tape player-recorder. The radio interviews have been transferred from tape to digital files and are available for listening on-site at the archives.
The Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives received the following donations from Dennis Askey, a friend of Felix and June Grant as well as a collector of great distinction.
In July 2000 the Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives acquired an audio-taped collection of Duke Ellington recordings. The collection consists of 149 (10”) reels. Sequenced chronologically and containing some 3,300 selections collected from 570 recording dates, the tapes provide a detailed and comprehensive record of Mr. Ellington’s studio, broadcast, concert, club, dance, and private performances from 1924 through 1947, his 78-rpm years. The collection was accompanied by a matching 167-page discography listing dates, matrix numbers, venues, titles and composers, issue labels and numbers, and participating personnel for each session. In August 2002 Mr. Askey offered his collection of sixty-three 16mm jazz films that date from the late 1930’s and 1940’s era of “Soundies.” In November 2006 the archives received a private collection of taped jazz recordings. The collection includes twenty-three 7” reels of taped jazz recording broadcasts from the 1950’s and 1960’s and was accompanied by a 39-page inventory.
In December 2021, Rebecca Byrd donated two scrapbooks relating to the career of her late husband, the internationally acclaimed jazz guitarist Charlie Byrd (September 16, 1925–December 2, 1999).
The two folio sized scrapbooks (20” x 28”) with 208 pages, contain over 1,500 items pertaining to Mr. Byrd’s formidable early career as a professional guitarist 1957 – 1970. The scrapbooks include clippings, broadsides, performance announcements, programs, reviews, articles, advertisements, and other ephemeral material.
In September 2003, the Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives acquired the collection of writer and historian Ernest Dyson. The collection comprises commercial sound recordings (2,100); a reel-to-reel tape collection that includes recordings of interviews, radio shows, festivals, and competitions. Other archival materials in the collection include books (800), lectures, reviews, concert programs, magazine and newspaper articles/clippings, correspondence, photographs and promotional material.
In June 2009, the acclaimed author and critic Will Friedwald donated his vast collection of jazz recordings to the Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives at the University of the District of Columbia. The collection was started over 50 years ago by his late father, jazz record producer, historian, and lawyer Herb Friedwald. It includes approximately 10,000 LP recordings dating from the 1940s through the 1990s that cover jazz from traditional New Orleans style to cutting edge avant-garde experimentalism.
The bulk of the material in the Felix E. Grant Collection consists of commercial sound recordings (16,500); recordings of the interviews of jazz artists and personalities taped by Mr. Grant during his four decades as a radio broadcaster (145); and recordings of radio shows conducted by Mr. Grant (200). Other archival materials in the collection include books, periodicals, posters, promotional material, correspondence, radio program logs/playlists, liner notes, lectures, reviews, concert programs, magazine and newspaper articles, awards, commendations, photographs and personal memorabilia. LP albums frequently contain associated hand-written and typed notes, newspaper clippings, promotional material, and other ephemera. The original organization and arrangement of the sound recordings has been maintained. The collection and the finding aid are organized broadly into series and then into more refined sub series. Both the finding aid and the collection itself are currently to be considered works in progress.
In September 1954, Felix Grant inaugurated “The Album Sound” on WMAL Radio 63 in Washington, D.C. He spent 30 years as its host and producer. The program featured the full spectrum of jazz and blues and had one of the widest listening audiences in the Washington metropolitan area. Most of the interviews in this collection were conducted live during the program or were produced in the studio for broadcast on the show during the period from 1965 to 1984. The Archives implemented a pilot project to provide web access to the Felix Grant radio interviews. These interviews of jazz artists and personalities are now accessible in streaming audio format through the Islandora digital repository.
In 1984 Mr. Grant prepared several radio programs for syndication at Studio Line Cable Stereo, a national cable radio distributor. Studio Line was never realized and the programs were never distributed. The next phase of cataloguing and digitizing files will include the radio shows.
The Felix E. Grant Digital Collection was implemented through a cooperative project with the Digital Collection Production Center of the Washington Research Library Consortium (WRLC) and is part of the WRLC Libraries Digital and Special Collections. Photographs and associated resources were selected for this project from a collection that not only documents the career of this jazz authority and media personality, but also serves as a rich source for the study of broadcast radio and jazz in Washington, D.C., during Grant’s 48-year career (1945–1993). The collection also highlights many jazz artists and events, and it documents Grant’s fascination with Duke Ellington and the music of Brazil, as well as Grant’s commitment to community service and involvement. The Felix E. Grant Digital Collection—which includes Felix Grant’s radio interviews as well as this selection of photographs and associated resources from the collection—forms part of the WRLC Libraries Digital and Special Collections.
Commercial sound recordings are found in a variety of formats (compact discs, LPs, 45s, 78s, and cassette tapes). The ongoing cataloging of the materials will add to the research database accessible through UDC Search.
During 2011, the Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives at the University of the District of Columbia acquired a significant collection of recordings from music historian, pianist, and award-winning author and record producer, Dr. John Edward Hasse. The donation includes a private collection of commercially-issued sound recordings (app. 3,500—33 1/3 LPs and 148—45rpm records) of primarily jazz artists along with several hundred ragtime recordings, as well a selection of blues, soul and rock. In addition to the recordings, there are several commercially issued VHS tapes of music and jazz documentaries. The collection is available for research and inventories of the recordings are available.
Dr. Hasse served as Curator of American Music at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, where he was founding Executive Director of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and where he founded the national Jazz Appreciation Month that is now celebrated every April in over 40 countries.
Dr. Hasse is the author of a critically acclaimed biography, Beyond Category: The Life and Genius of Duke Ellington, and the editor of a major illustrated history, Jazz: The First Century. He is editor of Ragtime: Its History, Composers, and Music; producer-annotator of the two-CD set Beyond Category: The Musical Genius of Duke Ellington; and producer author of the book and three disc set The Classic Hoagy Carmichael. He is co-author/ co-producer of the book and six-disc set Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology published by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. He most recently co-authored an inclusive text on jazz history - Discover Jazz.
As an expert on American music, John Edward Hasse has contributed his expertise to radio programs on NPR, the Voice of America, and Sirius XM radio; TV programs on PBS; and the stamp series "Legends of American Music" for the U.S. Postal Service.
In 2018 the longtime journalist, jazz critic and author Tom Scanlan (1924–2020) donated his private collection of recordings, periodicals, scripts, and playlists to the Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives at the University of the District of Columbia. The collection comprises commercially-issued sound recordings (app. 5,000–33 1/3 rpm LPs; 1,825–78 rpm recordings; 825–45 rpm recordings; 177–4-track reel-to-reel tapes and 4 cassette tapes); 7-5” reel-to-reel tapes of TV and radio broadcasts (including Tom Scanlan on the Felix Grant show); 106 jazz-related periodicals; and 304 scripts and playlists that Tom Scanlan created for Voice of America’s Sound of Jazz and Jazz Today radio programs.
In February 2010, the Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives at the University of the District of Columbia acquired a significant collection of recordings (3,500), books (2,000), and periodicals from jazz author, historian, critic, and radio personality W. Royal Stokes, a D.C. native and former writer for The Washington Post.
The Archives also houses materials that support the curriculum and document the history of UDC Jazz Studies—a program of study within the Music Program of the Division of Arts and Humanities, College of Arts and Sciences. The collection comprises sound and video recordings of concerts, festivals, recitals, workshops and a variety of events produced from 1976 until the present. Other archival materials in the collection include programs, correspondence, reports, newspaper clippings, posters, promotional material, awards, commendations and photographs. The collection is a rich source of information on Calvin Jones, director of the program from 1976 until his death in 2004, and a legendary figure in the Washington, DC community. His trombone was donated by his family to the Jazz Studies Program in 2005 and is now on exhibit in the Archives. The Jazz Studies Program has a rich history of involvement in community cultural and outreach activities and coordinates the various activities that are designed to bring the Archives’ resources to a wider public.
The bulk of the material in the WDCU Collection consists of commercial sound recordings (14,000); recordings from National Public Radio shows such as Blues Stage, Afropop Worlwide, Jazz Set, Dizzy’s Diamonds, Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz, Quarto Mundo, and Taylor Made Piano; recordings of the interviews of jazz artists and personalities taped by WDCU hosts and programmers; and recordings (620) of the late Ernest P. White’s radio talk show Cross Talk. The original organization and arrangement of the sound recordings has been maintained. Other archival materials in the collection include periodicals, posters, promotional material, membership lists, business correspondence, concert programs, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, awards, commendations and photographs.
During 2009 and 2010 the acclaimed journalist Hollie West donated 48 issues (2006–2009) of Swing Journal, Japan’s foremost jazz magazine from 1947 until it ceased publication in July 2010. The magazine played a central role in expanding the musical genre's reach in the country and was known for its exceptional photography as well as articles by commentators from the United States and Japan.
The comprehensiveness of the materials housed in the Archives has attracted public attention that has resulted in gifts of worthy collections. Donors include: