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Tom Harris Papers

 Collection
Identifier: P-0034

Dates

  • 1938-1991

Language of Materials

English

Biographical / Historical

Thomas (Tom) N. Harris was born on April 22, 1930 in Chicago, Illinois. While growing up in Chicago he developed a love for boogie woogie music and with the help of a friend, taught himself to play boogie woogie music on the piano. Tom attended Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, and there he met Charlie Castner, a fellow boogie woogie fan and musician. They formed a boogie woogie duo and recorded music together in the late 1940s through the mid-1950s. Tom and Charlie remained friends but pursued different paths after graduation. Tom worked as a buyer of consumer electronics for Radio Shack in Fort Worth, Texas until he retired in 1994. In 1961, he married Lynn Coonley Gould, and they had two daughters. Tom’s passion for boogie woogie music never waned, and he and his wife hosted an annual piano party for 34 years that was attended by musicians, friends, and fans. He passed away on March 30, 2009, in Fort Worth, following a two-year battle with lymphoma.

Source: Chicago Tribune, April 5, 2009. Ancestory.com. United States Obituary Collection.

The Tom Harris Papers consist of vinyl records, audio recordings on tape reels, trade publications, reference materials, articles, programs, and letters that document boogie-woogie and jazz music. The materials date from 1938-1991 and measure 14 linear feet (60 boxes). The collection is arranged into 6 series.

The first series, Record Lists and Reference Materials (1946-1975), contains record lists, indexes, and a guide to dating records. These materials aided jazz collectors in building and cataloging their record collections. Harris’ own record list is included in this series as well.

The second series, Trade Publications (1939-1991), consists of a number of magazines devoted to jazz music. The series is mostly comprised of issues of Metronome, (The) Record Changer, and Down Beat from the late 1930s through the late 1940s/early 50s.

The third series, Printed Materials (1938-1986), is comprised of event programs, articles, notes, and an illustrated history of jazz.

The fourth series, Vinyl Records (1946-1988), has over 300 records and albums. The majority of the records were not dated. Included in the collection are record sets of prominent artists, Harris and Castner recordings, and the twelve volume set, History of Jazz. A few of the records are broken or cracked and many of the album sets are in fragile condition. The board covers have often separated from the album and pages of the albums are no longer connected to the spine.

The fifth series, Audio Tape Reels (1959-1988), contains 33 audio tape reels with recordings primarily of KERA broadcasts.

The sixth series, Letters (1971-1976), is a very small series made up of two letters. One is a personal letter written to the Mr. Harris and his wife and the other is a letter concerning Radio Shack.

Extent

14 Linear Feet

Provenance

The materials were donated to the Fort Worth Library by Lynn G. Harris on May 25, 2010.

Related Materials in Fort Worth Library Collections

Jazz Preservation Project Collection, 1933-2012

Separated Materials

The Library de-accessioned 2 turntables and 1 mixer that were no longer working.

These books were removed from the collection and made part of the Library’s catalog:

Jazz Piano: A Jazz History, Billy Taylor.

The Ragtime Ephemeralist for 2002, A.D. Number Three.

The Jazz Record Book, Charles Edward Smith, with Frederic Ramsey, Jr., Charles Payne Rogers, and William Russell.

Jazz in the Movies: A Guide to Jazz Musicians, 1917-1977, David Meeker.

Blues Who’s Who: A Biographical Dictionary of Blues Singers, Sheldon Harris.

Title
Tom Harris Papers
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Fort Worth Public Library Archives Repository

Contact:
500 West 3rd Street
Fort Worth Texas 76102
817-392-7740