Guide to Ella Fitzgerald Papers
NMAH.AC.0584
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.0584
Creators:
Fitzgerald, Ella
Dates:
circa 1935-1996
Languages:
English
Collection is primarily in English. Some materials are in French, Japanese, Russian and Portuguese.
Physical Description:
50 cubic feet
92 boxes
Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Ella Fitzgerald, often called the “First Lady of Song,” was one of the 20th century’s most important musical performers. The collection reflects her career and personal life through photographs, audio recordings, and manuscript materials.

Scope and Contents note
Scope and Contents note
The Ella Fitzgerald Papers document the performing and personal life of the "First Lady of Song." The collection contains music manuscripts, sheet music, photographs, scripts, correspondence, clippings, business records, sound recordings and video. The bulk of the materials reflect Fitzgerald's career as a singer and performer. The collection comprises materials found in Ella Fitzgerald's home at the time of her death.

Arrangement note
Arrangement note
The collection is organized into 10 series.
Series 1: Music Manuscripts and Sheet Music, 1919-1973
Suberies 1.1: Television Shows
Series 2: Photographs, 1939-1990
Subseries 2.1: Ella Fitzgerald Performing Alone
Subseries 2.2: Ella Fitzgerald Performing With Others
Subseries 2.3: Publicity
Subseries 2.4: Ella Fitzgerald With Family, Colleagues, and Friends
Subseries 2.5: Ella Fitzgerald Candid Photographs
Subseries 2.6: Performing Venues
Subseries 2.7: Photographs From Friends and Fans
Series 3: Scripts, 1957-1981
Series 4: Correspondence, circa 1960-1996
Series 5: Business Records, 1954-1990
Series 6: Honorary Degrees and Awards, 1960-1996
Series 7: Concert Programs and Announcements, 1957-1992, undated
Series 8: Clippings, 1949-1997
Subseries 8.1: Magazine Articles, 1949-1997
Subseries 8.2: Newspapers, circa 19650-circa 1990
Series 9: Emphemera, 1950-1996
Subseries 9.1: Album Jackets
Subseries 9.2: Miscellaneous
Series 10: Audiovisual, 1939-1995
Subseries 10.1: Sound Discs: Test Pressings, Transcription Discs, and Performer Copies
Subseries 10.2: Commercial Sound Recordings
Subseries 10.3: Demonstration Sound Discs: Other Artists
Subseries 10.4: Videotapes

Biographical/Historical note
Biographical/Historical note
Born in Newport News, Virginia on April 25th, 1918, Ella Fitzgerald was sent to an orphanage in Yonkers, New York at the age of six. In 1934, she was discovered as a singer in New York’s famed Apollo Theater Amateur Contest. This led to a stint with drummer Chick Webb’s Band, with whom she recorded her first big hit, “A -tisket A-tasket” in 1938.
After Webb died in 1939, Fitzgerald took over leadership of the band for three years, during which time they were featured on a live radio series. She then embarked upon a solo career, which included recording for Decca Records, and in 1946, she began a pivotal association with producer Norman Granz’s Jazz at the Philharmonic series, which brought her a large international following.
In 1956, Fitzgerald left Decca Records to join Granz’s newly formed Verve label. Among her notable Verve recordings were a series of “songbooks” featuring the work of major American composers such as Cole Porter, George Gershwin, and Harold Arlen as well as classic collaborations with Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Fitzgerald’s toured and performed extensively and her immense popularity also led to appearances on television, in movies, and in commercials and magazine ads.
Despite increasing health problems, Fitzgerald continued to tour, perform and record into her seventies with musicians such as guitarist Joe Pass, arranger-producer Quincy Jones, and pianist Oscar Peterson. Throughout her life, Fitzgerald was active in charitable work with particular emphasis on the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and the Ella Fitzgerald and Harriette E. Shields Child Care Centers.
Ella Fitzgerald was admired and honored world-wide. In addition to receiving more than a dozen Grammy awards, she was awarded numerous honorary degrees and many states and cities had commemorative Ella Fitzgerald days. Fitzgerald was a Kennedy Center honoree in 1979 and Harvard University’s Hasty Pudding Club named her “Woman of the Year” in 1982.
The “First Lady of Song” died on June 17, 1996, of complications from diabetes.

Administration
Processing Information note
The collection was processed by Reuben Jackson, archivist in 2001 and Wendy Shay, audiovisual archivist in 2001-2004, 2008, 2015.
Separated Materials note
The National Museum of American History, Division of Culture ands the Arts holds Ella Fitzgerald artifacts including costumes and clothing.
Author
Finding aid prepared by Reuben Jackson and Wendy Shay
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
The collection was donated by the Fitzgerald 1989 Trust, Richard Rosman, trustee on April 14, 1997. The Ella Fitzgeral Charitable Foundation is the successor to the Fitzgerald 1989 Trust.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation note
Ella Fitzgerald Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Use note
The Archives Center can provide reproductions of some materials for research and educational use. Copyright and right to publicity restrictions apply and limit reproduction for other purposes.
Conditions Governing Access note
Collection is open for research.
Only reference copies of audiovisual materials can be used.

Related Archival Materials note
Materials at the Archives Center
Benny Carter Collection, 1928-2000 (AC0757)
Charismic Productions Records of Dizzy Gillespie, 1940s-1993 (AC0979)
Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program Collection, 1992-2012 (AC0808)
Milt Gabler Papers, 1927-2001 (AC0849)
Tad Hershorn Collection, 1956-1991 (AC0680)
Ernie Smith Jazz Film Collection, circa 1910- circa 1970 (AC0491)

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Betts, Keter, 1928- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Decca (recording company). Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gillespie, Dizzy, 1917-1993 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Goodman, Benny, (Benjamin David), 1909-1986 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Granz, Norman Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jazz at the Philharmonic (Musical group) . Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pass, Joe, 1929-1994 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Peterson, Oscar, 1925- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Riddle, Nelson Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Verve Records (Firm). Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
16mm motion picture film Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Audiotapes Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Awards Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Clippings--20th century Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Contracts Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Greeting cards Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jazz Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Manuscripts--Music--20th century Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Phonograph records Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs--20th century Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Posters--20th century Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Programs--1930-2000 Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings--1930-1990 Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Videocassettes Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C., 20013-7012
Phone: 202-633-3270
archivescenter@si.edu