Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Henry S. Bukowski Big Band Collection

Collection ID:
Bukowski, Henry S., 1922-
National Museum of American History (U.S.). Division of Community Life
ca. 1930s-1940s
Physical Description:
1 Cubic foot
3 boxes
Publicity photographs and postcards of entertainers, mostly jazz musicians and leaders of dance bands, etc., and related memorabilia.

Scope and Contents note
Scope and Contents note
The collection contains primarily publicity photographs: a mixture of prints from original negatives, prints from copy negatives, etc. Most are 8" x 10" or 5" x 7", some smaller, and some are postcard size or smaller (these include Areal photo@ postcards, i.e., original photographic images printed on special silver gelatin paper). A few photomechanical images are included, as well as a few letters from celebrities to Mr. Bukowski, 1938-1939. The earliest item noted in the collection is a 1933 Christmas card. Several examples of Gene Krupa=s novelty pin, consisting of crossed drumsticks and a miniature phonograph record, are included. The actual number of items in each folder is shown in the Container List; items are conventional silver gelatin photoprints unless otherwise identified. There is also a scrapbook containing news clippings, photographs, and other memorabilia, with a list, affixed to the back cover, of bands which Mr. Bukowski heard in person. Although some of the photographs bear autographs with generic, somewhat impersonal messages, many are addressed personally to the collector and are fine examples of the interaction between celebrity and fan. The notation Asigned@ in the Container List identifies items autographed by performers.
Most of the subjects are musicians and entertainers associated with big jazz and popular music bands of the period; however, most of the images are studio publicity portraits of individual bandleaders and stars, rather than pictures of entire bands. Photographers represented include Bruno of Hollywood and Maurice Seymour, although many others are not identified.
Publicity photographs often were not archivally processed, and many photoprints in the collection show evidence of fading and yellowing from inadequate fixation or washing. Prints which are in exceptionally good condition are noted in the Container List.
Mr. Bukowski formed this collection in the 1930s and 1940s, but he added a few related items in the 1980s and 1990s.

Collection is arranged into one series.

Biographical/Historical note
Biographical/Historical note
Henry S. Bukowski collected these pictures and other memorabilia during the 1930s and 1940s as a fan of big band music. He began his collection while in grammar school through library research, by locating bands active in New York City, then sending them penny postcards to request autographed publicity pictures. He also listened to late-night radio broadcasts and copied the addresses of bands based in other parts of the country. AOut went my penny postcards,@ he notes. After hearing trombonist Tommy Dorsey=s band at a local ballroom at age fourteen, he became interested in the instrument, and his older brothers Bernie and Ted bought him his first trombone from a pawnshop for ten dollars. When he was old enough, he frequented the New Haven Arena and the State Theatre in Hartford, Connecticut to hear bands in person. These bands and the admission prices he paid (25 to 99 cents) are listed in his scrapbook. Mr. Bukowski maintained an avid interest in popular Abig band@ jazz and swing music as both a fan and a player, and eventually served with a U.S. Army band for three and a half years after being drafted.
Mr. Bukowski was born on April 11, 1922 in Wallingford, Connecticut, the youngest of nine children. He was married to Mildred Moss for forty-eight years until her death October 15, 2000; they had no children. In a letter of September 1, 2001, he reported that he had one surviving sibling, a brother in Wallingford.
Letter, 2 pp., in Archives Center collection control file. The Archives Center is grateful to Mr. Bukowski for his generous gift as well as his thoughtfulness in providing the above information.

David Haberstich
Immediate Source of Acquisiton
Collection donated by Henry S. Bukowski, 1984.
Custodial History
Collection transferred from the Division of Community Life (now Division of Cultural and Community Life) to the Archives Center in 1998.
Processing Information
Collection processed by David Haberstich, 2001.

Digital Content

Using the Collection
Restrictions on Access
Collection is open for research and access on site by appointment. Unprotected photographs must be handled with gloves.
Preferred Citation
Henry S. Bukowski Big Band Collection, ca. 1930s-1940s, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Most of the photographs presumably are under copyright, but they were made and widely distributed for free publication.

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Publicity Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs -- 1900-1950 Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Popular music -- 20th century -- United States Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Portraits Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Musicians -- 1900-1950 Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Big bands Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Music -- 20th century -- United States Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jazz -- 20th century -- United States Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012