Trans. Status:

William Russell Diaries

Call Number: MSS 497
Title: William Russell Diaries
Creator: Russell, William, 1905-1992 (Author)
Blesh, Rudi (Author)
Lomax, Alan (Author)
Bell, Dave W. (Author)
Schenk, John (Author)
Warner, Homer (Author)
Date of Creation: 1942-1949
Extent: 76 items
Object Name: journals (accounts)
Collection Type: Archival & Special Collections
Documents & Correspondence
Language: English
Biography/History: Born William Russell Wagner, Bill Russell was an American music historian, collector, musician, and modernist composer. He was an authority on early New Orleans-style jazz, and the founder of American Music Records.
Scope and Content: This diary material consists largely of the handwritten travel diaries (and their typed transcripts) kept by William Russell for trips to New Orleans between 1942 and 1949 (skipping 1947 and 1948), and for nine trips to other cities (Los Angeles, New York, New Iberia, San Francisco, and Chicago) between May 1943 and October 1947 to hear Bunk Johnson perform. The material has been divided into four series:
I. New Orleans Diaries. Handwritten by Russell. They include occasional drawings and band-seating diagrams. There are several lists of records made during the visit. Much attention is paid to Bunk Johnson: his comments are detailed and those of others speaking about him. At least four visits to New Iberia to see Johnson are detailed (1944, 1945, and two in 1949, one of them to attend his funeral). The diaries sometimes contain items of a non-diary nature such as drafts of letters; their presence is noted in item-level descriptions.
II. Transcriptions of the New Orleans Diaries. Typescript. These were either typed by Russell or by someone he hired. They also contain drawings. The quality of the paper is poor. Little of the originals (in series I) seems to be lacking in the typescripts. The only large gap is the missing first two pages of the 1942 typescripts.
III. Trips to Other Cities. Nine handwritten originals by William Russell. There are no transcriptions with the exception of a partial transcript of his trips to New York between 1945 Sept. 22 and 1946 Jan. 23.
IV. Loose Items. With the exception of a small note preceding the San Francisco diary of 1943 May 4-11, these items originally inserted in or accompanying the diaries have been placed in separate folders. They include a 1943 telegram, at least two letters, calendar pages, and notes.
Not placed in any series, but kept by THNOC are folders of packing material and some loose-leaf binders, which originally contained the diaries.
Arrangement: Organized in four series: I. New Orleans Diaries; II. Transcriptions of New Orleans Diaries; III. Trips to Other Cities; IV. Loose Items.
Notes: William Russell Diaries, MSS 497, The Williams Research Center, The Historic New Orleans Collection.
Finding Aid: An unpublished finding guide is available in the Williams Research Center Reading Room. See MSS Finding Guide binders.
Restrictions: Researchers may be limited to consulting one or two items at a time, per the discretion of the Reading Room staff.
Reproduction of original documents, when permitted, must be performed by the Williams Research Center staff.
Requesting: Please provide the reference staff with the manuscript call number and folder number.
Collection Theme(s): Jazz
Subjects: Johnson, Bunk, 1879-1949 -- More information
Johnson, Maude -- More information
Drob, Harold -- More information
Yancey, Estella
Johnson, Dink, 1892-1954 -- More information
Matthews, Bob
Colburn, Bill -- More information
Stuyvesant Casino (New York, NY)
Russell, William, 1905-1992 -- More information
New Orleans (La.)
Los Angeles (Calif.)
Chicago (Ill.)
New Iberia (La.)
San Franciso (Calif.)
Music and race.
Jazz musicians
African American musicians.
Jazz -- Louisiana -- New Orleans.
Related Manuscripts &
William Russell Jazz Collection MSS 500
Book of the Dead MSS 495
Accession Number: 97-80-L.2
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