Conservatory Special Collections > Stanley King Jazz Collection

Stanley King Jazz Collection

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signed image of Louis Armstrong


The Stanley King Jazz Collection comprises approximately 12 linear feet of materials relating to American jazz and blues music. Materials include sheet music, photographs, posters, concert programs, magazines, correspondence, financial documents, ephemera, and various audio and moving image items. The collection is especially strong in objects related to Louis Armstrong, reflecting Mr. King’s fondness for early jazz.

Overview | Inventory | History | Using The Collection


The Stanley King Jazz Collection comprises approximately 12 linear feet of materials relating to American jazz and blues music. Materials include sheet music, photographs, posters, concert programs, magazines, correspondence, financial documents, ephemera, and various audio and moving image items. The bulk of the Collection consists of published sheet music and photographs, mostly promotional studio portraits. Materials date from the early 1920s to the 2000s, with the majority spanning the 1930s through 1950s, and with many items undated.

The Collection is especially strong in material related to Louis Armstrong, and includes photographs, periodicals, sheet music, correspondence, promotional material and ephemera. Additionally, the Collection contains some material related to jazz trumpeter Bunk Johnson, including photographs, correspondence, handbills, and sheet music. Also in the Collection are original contracts and financial correspondence from Benny Goodman, Fletcher Henderson, Paul Hindemith, and Paul Whiteman.


The Stanley King Jazz Collection comprises 12 linear feet of shelf space, and consists of 19 archival boxes, 67 LPs, and 36 oversize folders. The Collection is arranged into 5 series: Louis Armstrong-related material, visual material, print and manuscript material, audio and moving image material, and sheet music. An inventory for series 1-3 is available for download here: King Series 1-3 Inventory [PDF]. Additional inventories can be found in the series descriptions below.

To request access to the Collection or to inquire about collection details, contact Conservatory Library special collections staff at:

Series 1: Louis Armstrong-related material [1.3 boxes, 6 oversize folders]

This series reflects Stanley King’s interest in Louis Armstrong and early New Orleans jazz, and consists of photographs, postcards, event posters, periodicals, sheet music, correspondence, promotional material, ephemera, and moving image material. Although the bulk of the photographs in this series are not particularly rare, there are number of original and uncommon photographs in box 1 folder 32. Items of ephemera include a French phone card with an image of Armstrong, and a sample packet of Swiss Kriss, an herbal laxative endorsed by Armstrong. Correspondence that may be of particular interest to researchers are two original typed letters, a 1939 letter to Elmer Lewis and a 1945 letter to Armstrong’s second ex-wife, Lil Hardin Armstrong, and photocopies of five letters written between 1932 and 1940 to Elmer Lewis and Mezz Mezzrow.

Series 2: Visual material [3.7 boxes, 30 oversize folders]

The bulk of this series consists of photographic prints of jazz and big band leaders and musicians, some signed or inscribed; most are studio publicity photos from the 1940s, but there are some candid snapshots, and postcards. Photographs are arranged alphabetically by subject when identified, with 70 unidentified photographs and 16 miscellaneous postcards. There are 30 oversize folders of event and promotional posters, dating from 1922 to 1999, with many undated. There are also a few miscellaneous visual items such as a banjo card, a set of Japanese playing cards with banjo photographs, two calendars, and 11 big band signatures on individual pieces of paper.

Series 3: Print and manuscript material [2 boxes]

This series consists of both print and manuscript material related to jazz and blues music. Although modest in size, it includes a diverse array of subjects and material types: periodicals, monograph publications, catalogs, programs, advertisements and other promotional materials, correspondence, and financial documents. Select material has been arranged into folders by subject, notably material relating to Preservation Hall, Stanley King, and The Turk Murphy Jazz Band. Some particularly noteworthy items include a rare 1938 Carnegie Hall concert program “Spirituals to Swing,” 1941 concert tickets for Fats Waller at a segregated venue in Roanoke, Virginia, 1947 letters by Bunk Johnson, and WNEW radio program scripts written by Benny Goodman in the early 1950s.

Series 4: Audio and moving image material [102 items]

This series contains 67 twelve-inch long-playing records (33 1/3 rpm), mostly blues and early jazz, for which an inventory is available here: King LP Inventory [PDF], and three box CD sets: Big Band Jazz, Hoagy Carmichael, and American Popular Song. There are 12 DVD-Rs of various blues and jazz recordings, most of which are commercially available. The rest of this series [3 VHS tapes, 4 CDs, 4 audiocassettes] contains demos and live recordings of Stanley’s Washboard Kings from the 1990s.

Series 5: Sheet music [11 boxes]

This is the largest series in the Collection, and contains 1,090 publications of American blues and jazz sheet music. An inventory listing item number, title, and composer(s) for each item is available here: King Sheet Music Inventory [PDF].


Stanley King (b. 1928) is an avid collector of memorabilia related to a number of interests, notably American jazz, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Charles Lindbergh. Now retired, he was a successful New York City textile designer and manufacturer, as well as an artist and musician. His George Washington-related material has been donated to the historic Washington estate at Mount Vernon, and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum acquired the Stanley King collection of Charles Lindbergh memorabilia in 2002. In 2014 and 2015 King donated his jazz-related materials to the Oberlin Conservatory Library special collections, creating the Stanley King Jazz Collection.

King discovered jazz when he was about twelve years old, and by the mid 1940s he began to collect items relating to the music he loved. He became a regular at various New York jazz clubs, building relationships with many of the performing musicians, and often sharing with them rare recordings he had collected. His eponymous Stanley King Studio in New York City hosted numerous jazz parties. King played drums in his school orchestra and in an Army band, and later in life he switched to washboard and performed professionally. Stanley’s Washboard Kings, which included Eddy Davis, Paul Bacon, and others, performed worldwide in the 1980s and 1990s, including jazz festivals in Germany and Japan’s 18th All Japan Dixieland Jazz Festival.

Administrative Info

Restrictions: Collection is open for research. To request access to the Collection, contact Conservatory Library special collections staff at:

Rights: The copyright interests in this collection may not have been transferred to Oberlin College.

Preferred Citation: [Identification of item], Stanley King Jazz Collection, Oberlin Conservatory Library


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