Trans. Status:

Frederic Ramsey Jr. Papers

Call Number: MSS 559
Title: Frederic Ramsey Jr. Papers
Creator: Ramsey, Frederic, 1915-1995 (associated name)
Date of Creation: 1922-1995
Predominant Dates: 1934-1988
Extent: 35 linear feet
Object Name: correspondence
address books
application forms
bills of sale
business cards
catalogs (documents)
census records
contact prints
drafts (documents)
drawings (visual works)
ephemera (general object genre)
exhibition catalogs
galley proofs
histories (literature genre)
identity cards
indexes (reference sources)
journals (accounts)
legal correspondence
magazines (periodicals)
negatives (photographs)
personal papers
photographic prints
press releases
price lists
programs (documents)
receipts (financial records)
slides (photographs)
speeches (documents)
translations (documents)
Collection Type: Archival & Special Collections
Documents & Correspondence
Language: English, French
Biography/History: Frederic Ramsey (1915-1995) was a jazz historian and author. He was co-editor of the 1939 anthology Jazzmen, and produced records for Folkways using field and historical recordings.
Scope and Content: This collection is composed of the personal and work related papers of Frederic Ramsey Jr. Ramsey was a writer, collector, photographer, a record and documentary producer, and historian whose main interests were blues and jazz music and the southern American culture where they developed. The collection includes correspondence, photographs, research files, interview transcripts, and drafts concerning Ramsey's work and his relationships with musicians and other music scholars. Also present is Ramsey's fiction writing, his school work completed while at Princeton, and items related to his family life.
Mr. Ramsey may be best known as a jazz scholar for his co-authorship and editing of the 1939 publication "Jazzmen." Research notes and photocopies, memoranda, and correspondence between Ramsey and his co-authors, co-editor, and publisher can be found in this collection, along with similar material related to Ramsey's other major works in jazz history. Those works include The Jazz Record Book, 1942; A Guide to Longplay Jazz Records, 1954; and Jazzways: A Yearbook of Hot Jazz, 1946 + 1947. Also of interest is the correspondence, memos, and research notes concerning Ramsey's involvement with Folkway's records and their "Jazz" series of albums. Transcripts of recorded interviews with jazz musicians and their friends and families shed light on the development of jazz music; many of the interviews deal with the early history of jazz and Buddy Bolden. Significant research notes pertaining to Bolden, a pioneering cornet player in New Orleans, was compiled for a planned but never completed book. The Bolden research files include correspondence, photographs, biographical sketches, interview transcripts, photocopies of city directories and police blotters, as well as newspaper clippings.
Mr. Ramsey's interest in blues and the rural American south led him to author a 1960 Rutgers University Press book titled "Been Here and Gone." Research notes, interview transcripts, newspaper clippings, correspondence, photocopies, photographs, and ephemera from multiple trips through the south as well as many field recordings were used in publishing the book and in the publishing of Folkway's records "Music From the South" series. Ramsey is also known for his work with Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter, having recorded the Folkways issued "Lead Belly's Last Sessions." This work is illustrated in Ramsey's research notes, newspaper clippings, correspondence, newsletters, photographs, and drafts of scholarly works concerning Lead Belly. Of particular note is a letter written by Lead Belly to Ramsey (see folder 1159).
Other topics represented in this collection include Ramsey's race relations documentary titled "Mississippi: A Self Portrait" as well as material related to Ramsey's fiction writing and his time spent with the Farm Service Agency. Ramsey's time as a student at Princeton is documented as well as his interest in folk music. There is a small quantity of material related to Ramsey's family life. A small selection of cassette tapes are present and have been digitized, these, along with indexes he kept related to his major publications and his photography, are described individually in the finding guide.
Arrangement: Material is arranged in Frederic Ramsey Jr.'s original order. Broad sections of these papers are arranged alphabetically.
Notes: Frederic Ramsey Jr. Papers. MSS 559, Williams Research Center, The Historic New Orleans Collection
Finding Aid: Unpublished finding guide is available in the Williams Research Center Reading Room. See MSS Finding Guide binders.
A folder-level PDF finding aid is available online.
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.
Collection Theme(s): African-Americans
Performers and Composers
Social Reform and Activism
Local Life and Customs
Documentary Photography
Subjects: Bolden, Buddy, 1877-1931 -- More information
Ramsey, Frederic, 1915-1995 -- More information
Oliver, King, 1885-1938 -- More information
Johnson, Bunk, 1879-1949 -- More information
Armstrong, Louis, 1901-1971 -- More information
Russell, William, 1905-1992 -- More information
Tulane University. William Ransom Hogan Jazz Archive -- More information
Harcourt Brace & Company -- More information
Rutgers University Press -- More information
Welty, Eudora, 1909-2001 -- More information
Dodds, Baby, 1898-1959 -- More information
Blesh, Rudi, 1899-1985 -- More information
Allen, Richard B., 1927-2007 -- More information
Morton, Jelly Roll, 1890-1941 -- More information
Manetta, Manuel, 1889-1969 -- More information
Picou, Alphonse, 1878-1961 -- More information
Smith, Bessie, 1898-1937 -- More information
Folkways Records -- More information
Rutgers University. Institute of Jazz Studies -- More information
Princeton University -- More information
Society for Ethnomusicology -- More information
United States. Dept. of Agriculture.
Ramsey, Loch, 1950-2004 -- More information
Ramsey, Charles F., 1876-1951 -- More information
Smith, Charles Edward, 1916-1970 -- More information
Leadbelly, 1885-1949 -- More information
Vachon, John, 1914-1975 -- More information
De Felitta, Frank Paul, b. 1921 -- More information
Asch, Moses, 1905-1986 -- More information
Sancton, Thomas, 1915-2012 -- More information
Baker, Ida, 1881-1960 -- More information
East Louisiana State Hospital -- More information
Ramsey, Amelia, 1922-1979 -- More information
New Orleans (La.)
New York (N.Y.)
Greenville (Miss.)
Bucks County (Pa.)
New Hope (Pa.)
Stockton (N.J.)
Chicago (Ill.)
Macon (Ga.)
Selma (Ala.)
African American musicians -- Louisiana -- New Orleans.
Jazz -- Louisiana -- New Orleans -- History and criticism.
Jazz -- Louisiana -- New Orleans -- History and criticism.
Jazz -- History and criticism.
Jazz festivals -- Rhode Island -- Newport.
Jazz musicians -- Louisiana -- New Orleans.
Jazz musicians -- United States.
Music -- Mississippi River Valley -- History and criticism.
Music -- Louisiana -- History and criticism.
Musicians -- Louisiana -- New Orleans.
Musicians -- Mississippi River Valley -- Interviews.
Blues (Music) -- History and criticism.
Civil rights movements -- Southern States -- History -- 20th century.
Race relations.
Related Manuscripts &
William Russell Jazz Collection MSS 500
Related Materials at
Other Institutions:
Frederic Ramsey Jr. Tape Collection, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Washington, DC
Charles Edward Smith Collection #29, Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Accession Number: 2006.0257
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