Smithsonian Collections Blog

Highlighting the hidden treasures from over 2 million collections

Collections Search Center

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Duncan P. Shiedt Collection and All That Jazz

The National Museum of American History sponsored a variety of special activities in April to celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month, including special concerts and the opening of the LeRoy Neiman Jazz Caf√© in the Museum, with its colorful mural (painted by Neiman) depicting eighteen jazz masters.  Spearheaded as usual by Dr. John Hasse, the Museum’s indefatigable curator of American Music, Jazz Appreciation Month often focuses on jazz-related acquisitions by the Museum, especially in the Archives Center.  Searching for “jazz” in SIRIS reveals the jazz-related riches of the Archives Center, from the original music manuscripts of famed composer and bandleader Duke Ellington to published sheet music in the Sam DeVincent Collection (arranged by the topics or subjects of songs), to photographs of jazz musicians by many important photographers.

Photograph by John Miner.  Billy Strayhorn playing piano, possibly Chicago, 26 May 1952.
From the Duncan P. Schiedt Photograph Collection, Archives Center, NMAH
Dr. Hasse has located and helped to negotiate most of the Archives Center’s jazz acquisitions over the years, collaborating with our staff to arrange and complete the transactions.  Some of these acquisitions were made possible through personal friendships and professional connections dating back to his graduate work in music at Indiana University, and Indiana, it seems, has been an unusually fertile source of dedicated collectors of jazz-related collections and archives.  This has been of personal interest to me because I also pursued graduate work at Indiana University in Bloomington—not in music, although I knew a number of music students.  Our most recent major jazz-related acquisition was donated by the children of another longtime friend and colleague of John Hasse’s—Duncan P. Schiedt.  Schiedt was himself a distinguished photographer of jazz musicians, but he also collected the work of other jazz photographers, and authored a number of books.  He wrote in the preface to his book Jazz State of Indiana that “Indiana represented something special in jazz history” and that “Hoosier jazz” made a special contribution to the style of many college and professional jazz bands. The Archives Center is just beginning to view the thousands of photographs in this collection.  Shown above is a photograph of jazz great Billy Strayhorn, from the Schiedt collection.

David Haberstich
Curator of Photography, NMAH Archives Center     

No comments:

Post a Comment