The University of Kansas Libraries
University of Kansas Sound Archive
About the Archive
The University of Kansas Sound Archive is a closed research collection of more than 100,000 recordings representing the entire chronology of recorded sound. It is administratively part of the KU Music and Dance Library. There are several large collections housed in the Archive: the James Seaver Opera Archive; the Richard F. Wright Jazz Archive; the AudioHouse Collection; the Paul Bierley Band Collection, and various smaller collections. These collections include albums of Broadway/London musicals and film soundtracks, as well as the original master reels from the 1972 International Carnival of Experimental Sound (ICES).
Bibliographic records are being added to the KU Libraries’ Online Catalog (http://www.lib.ku.edu/) . Until the process of entering each individual title is completed, some items will be missing from the catalog. If you cannot find a specific title in the catalog, please consult the staff of the Music and Dance Library, who will check the uncataloged items.
James Seaver Opera Archive
The James Seaver Opera Archive is a collection of opera and vocal music that range from cylinders to 78s to LPs to CD and video recordings. There are many rare early Berliner and Edison records. Also in this collection are tapes of some of Dr. Seaver’s popular radio program, Opera is My Hobby, as broadcast by KANU.
Richard F. Wright Jazz Archive
The Richard F. Wright Jazz Archive at the University of Kansas is one of the most complete of its kind in the Midwest. Its holdings cover thoroughly all major jazz periods from the 1920’s and 1930’s on 78-rpm recordings (New Orleans, Chicago, New York, Kansas City, the swing era) as well as the many genres following World War II (bop, cool, funky/hard bop, third stream, avant-garde, fusion, and soul jazz).
The collection contains many rare and out-of-print items on labels that are in great demand by jazz collectors and dealers around the world. There are extensive holdings of Bethlehem, BYG, Coral, Debut, Dial, ESP-Disk, Jubilee, Mode, Roost, Tampa, Time and United Artists. There are also many nearly complete catalogs of such major jazz companies as Argo, Atlantic, Blue Note, Columbia, Contemporary, Fantasy, Imipulse, Pacific Jazz, Prestige, RCA Victor, Riverside, and Roulette. Twelve-inch V-disks and 16” (33-rpm) discs from the 19230’s and early 1940’s are in the Archive. Many of these items, particularly albums on the Intro, Good Time Jazz and Storyville labels, are extremely rare and have been out of print for many years. Included in the many items of interest to historians and collections is the personal collection of orchestra leader and jazz promoter, Ernest Loring “Red” Nichols, which includes master tapes and transcription discs of performances from the 1930’s, 1940’s, and 1950’s.
The Archive is a collection of more than 25,000 12” 33-rpm recordings, 900 10” 33-rpm recordings, 5,000 78-rpm recordings, and 650 reel-to-reel tapes. The Archive’s largest contributors have been University of Kansas Associate Professor, radio host and jazz authority, Richard F. “Dick” Wright; Kansas City collectors, Howard D. Rittmaster, Rosalind Gregory and Ernest Johnson Sr., Dallas enthusiasts Lloyd V. and Julia R. Mathis, as well as University of Kansas professor and jazz critic, Chuck Berg. Many other persons have contributed substantial numbers of rare and valuable recordings.
Clippings, announcements, Promotional materials and programs are among the many items that enhance the collection.
Almost every well-known artist, as well as many unknown and forgotten players, is represented in the Archive with thirty to forty albums each by such outstanding figures as Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie and Oscar Peterson. Future research may reveal that the complete recording output of many jazz artists will be found here. Famous jazz figures associated with Kansas City (Charlies Parker, Mary Lou Williams, and Coleman Hawkins) are well represented in the collection Ten inch and 12” Charlie Parker releases on the Dial label and two by Dick and Kuz Harp for the 90th Floor label are examples of extremely rare recordings that can be found in the Archive.