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The National Ragtime and Jazz Archive

In March 1974 the Board of Trustees, in recognition of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville's part in the St. Louis metropolitan community and its rich cultural tradition of jazz and ragtime music, established the National Ragtime and Jazz Archive (NRJA) at Lovejoy Library. The archive documents early recorded jazz and in particular the lives of notable jazz musicians from the St. Louis area. The John Randolph Collection, with approximately 10,500 78-rpm records, provided the original basis for the NRJA Record Collection. Today there are more than 20,000 records in the archive. Audio and videotapes, sheet music, piano rolls, photographs, and oral history materials are also included.

For an overview of the National Ragtime and Jazz Archive, watch the video segment, "Tour of SIUE Jazz Archives and Radio Station WSIE," from the "I Love Jazz" HEC-TV program (February 2012).

The Old Guys

Since its inception, many dedicated musicians and members of the University community have donated time, funds, and materials to develop the archive. A group of SIUE faculty members formed a jazz and ragtime band called the "Old Guys." Included in the group were W. Deane Wiley, Dan Havens, Ray Helsel, Jack Ades, Lyman "Zeke" Holden, Warren Brown, and the ever-popular Dixieland pianist and vocalist, Jean Kittrell. The Old Guys performed benefit concerts and issued three recordings which have been sold to further benefit the archive. Two albums in particular, Hot Ginger and Dynamite and Jazz In the Parlor, have been well-received. CD copies can be purchased for $15.00 each in the Music Listening Room to support the archive.

Oral History and Research Materials

During the early 1980s the Illinois Arts Council funded an oral history project through which St. Louis area jazz musicians were interviewed. The corresponding tapes and transcripts of the interviews were subsequently added to the Jazz Archive. The oral history memoirs highlight the careers of these musicians and give descriptions of musical life in the St. Louis area during the twentieth century. Carol Clarkin, Dan Havens, Charles Rose, and Deane Wiley were the primary interviewers in the project, and Carole Wiley was the project coordinator. Bob Bennett, Therese Zoski Dickman and Doug Meyer have continued conducting oral history interviews. To date the following musicians have been interviewed:

Claude Abney

Willie Akins

Sam Andria

Theodore Bibb

Eubie Blake

Gilbert Bowers

George Brunis

Robert Carter

Leo Chears

Bobbie Danzie

Eddie Johnson

Leon King

Singleton Palmer

Hayes Pillars

Jimmie Pounds

Eddie Randle

Vertna Saunders

Leon Smith

Lloyd Smith

Ralph Sutton

For a complete contents list of the musician interviews, please click on this link: Oral History and Research Materials. For a table of contents list of a particular musician, click on the name from the list above.

For the 40th Anniversary of the National Ragtime and Jazz Archive, additional oral history interviews were conducted and recordings and transcripts added. Southern Illinois University Edwardsville has a strong commitment to and a fine reputation for its quality jazz curriculum, outstanding jazz performing groups, and its radio station, WSIE . The National Ragtime and Jazz Archive is a growing resource of historic U.S. jazz recordings, ragtime music, photographs, and oral history materials especially those documenting St. Louis area jazz musicians.

We wish to thank to all who have contributed to the National Ragtime and Jazz Archive! 

*The logo for the National Ragtime and Jazz Archive was designed by John Adkins Richardson, SIUE emeritus Art Professor.

If you have questions or comments about this collection, please contact Therese Dickman, Fine Arts Librarian / Associate Professor, Lovejoy Library, at or call 618-650-2695.

Updated 11/23/2015.
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