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Visiting Scholars Bring Noteworthy Archives to Light at Institute of Jazz Studies

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Manuel Jusino, left, works with Barrye Brown on the Duvivier archives.

Thanks to the work of three visiting researchers and one hard working intern/resident at the Institute for Jazz Studies (IJS), the archives of two hidden heroes of the mid-20th century jazz scene have been fully processed, organized, and prepared for public access.

Ismay Duvivier was a dancer who made a name for herself in the early 1900’s. Her son George Duvivier, a bass player, became the ultimate sideman and worked for decades as a recording artist with many of the big names in jazz. After George’s premature death in 1985 and Ismay’s passing in 2004, their personal papers were willed to IJS. After an initial intake and quick survey, the Duvivier collection awaited the full review that only a team of researchers could offer.

Earlier this summer the Ismay and George Duvivier collection received the full treatment it deserved, thanks to the dedicated efforts of three visiting Jazz Archives Fellows and the Rutgers University Libraries/School of Communication and Information (SC&I) intern/resident.

The IJS Jazz Archives Fellowship, established in 2012, offers practical, hands-on experience in a well-regarded large music archive for graduate students in library and information science or recent MLIS graduates who have an interest in jazz and/or African American history and a commitment to careers in archives. The program provides stipends to three fellows who visit IJS for two weeks in late May/early June to work on arranging, describing, and providing access to a major archival collection. The fellowships are generously supported by the Morroe Berger - Benny Carter Jazz Research Fund, an endowment established by musician/composer Benny Carter in 1987 to provide grants to facilitate jazz research by students and scholars. The Fellowship Program is also funded by a donation from longtime IJS supporter John Van Rens.

The Libraries selected three particularly impressive candidates for the 2014 fellowships –      

  • Barrye Brown, an MSLS candidate specializing in archives and records management at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who has worked for two years as a Carolina Academic Library Associate in the Southern Historical Collection and the Sonja Haynes Stone Center Library;
  • Joy Doan (left), a May 2014 graduate from the MLIS program at San Jose State University in California who previously served as a music library intern at the Association of Research Libraries and Music Library Association and also as a curatorial intern at the National Museum of American History;
  • Rory Grennan (below right), a May 2013 graduate from the MLIS program at San Jose State University who now works at the University Archives and Sousa Archives of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and also performs as an electric bassist with rock, jazz, and blues combos.

The Libraries/SC&I internship/residency program provides one student in the Masters of Library and Information Science program at Rutgers with an intensive three-year exposure to the various aspects of professional work within an academic library such as reference, instruction and information services, collection development, access services, administration, digital library systems, preservation, and special collections. The program reflects the university's long-standing commitment to equal opportunity and affirmative action, and its efforts to increase diversity in academic librarianship.

The 2013/2016 Libraries/SC&I intern/resident, Manuel Jusino, worked in the Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program in the Department of Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and as a STEM educator at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, NJ. He received an M.A. in History from Rutgers-Newark in January 2012.

Manuel’s residency was developed to include a stint in IJS, to coincide with the jazz fellows’ visits. Making full use of the resulting synergy of talent and staff support, IJS staff presented the four visiting students with the challenge of fully processing and drafting both a user’s guide (called an electronic finding aid in the archival world) and the outline of a digital exhibition of the Ismay and George Duvivier archives.

Barrye, Joy, Manuel, and Rory dived into the project and found a rich collection with a variety of formats – contracts, correspondence, photos, sound recordings, sheet music, and more. They also quickly learned that Ismay and George were, in many ways, uniquely representative of the contemporary East Coast music scene for much of the 20th century.

Though her career in music was brief, Ismay was a well-regarded dancer who performed at the Cotton Club in Manhattan and accompanied Cab Calloway and other jazz notables. Her son George, who she largely raised on her own, became a much sought after studio musician who played classical, jazz, rock, and other musical genres with great skill. George performed with Lena Horn, Benny Carter, Pearl Bailey, Barry Manilow, and other prominent musicians and also performed a few times at the White House.

George represented the west and the world of jazz by participating in the US State Department’s Jazz Ambassadors program and performing in Eastern Europe in the 1960’s. One indicator of George’s unique place in the music scene is the fact that he was the bass player on hand when Marilyn Monroe sang “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden in May 1962.

The three Fellows and Manuel worked closely with all members of the IJS staff and finished processing the Duvivier collection. They drafted a finding aid and a digital exhibition for the collection, both of which will be edited by IJS staff in the coming weeks. IJS will complete and release these resources in the fall 2014 semester.

As part of the fellowships and internship/residency, IJS took the three jazz fellows and Manuel for tours of the Louis Armstrong Archives and House museum in Queens, the Library Services Center at the New York Public Library in Manhattan, and Rutgers’ Special Collections and University Archives in New Brunswick. They also arranged for the four visiting students to receive a tour of Newark led by Dr. Clement A. Price, Newark's official city historian and Rutgers Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor of History.

Barrye, Joy, Manuel, and Rory concluded their work together with glowing impressions of IJS. Barrye commented: “I was surprised to encounter a collection with such a broad and diverse array of formats and three-dimensional objects, instruments, clothing, and other artifacts – the most I’ve ever seen in a musical archives.” Joy remarked that while she had prior knowledge of IJS, she was amazed by how organized its collections are and how well connected IJS is within the local community through its robust outreach activities. Rory was impressed by the camaraderie and strong cooperation among the staff at IJS, creating a very comfortable and productive work environment. Manuel commented that his work in IJS has given him a new appreciation of how a rare and historically rich collection, like IJS, can add tremendous value to a library system.

IJS greatly appreciated the work of the three jazz fellows and the Libraries/SC&I fellow on the Duvivier collection and looks forward to sharing the fruits of their labors online and welcoming other scholars to make use of this unique collection in the years to come.