The collection documents the customs and culture of black gospel song and its performance in 19th- and 20th-century America. Dr. Reagon collected photographs, sheet music, and other primary and secondary sources chronicling the development and legacy of this medium, from the Civil War to the Civil Rights movement, from blues to Gospel to classical to jazz. Among the subjects included in this collection are trailblazers such as Charles Tindley, Thomas A. Dorsey, Rosetta Tharpe, Duke Ellington, and Nathaniel Dett. Noted performers are the Fisk Jubilee Singers, the Harmonizing Four, the Hampton University Choir, and the Chick Webb Orchestra.
Floyd Levin was a Los Angeles textile manufacturer who turned his passion for jazz into a second career as an influential jazz journalist and historian. The collection consists of research materials including biographical files. In addition, there are numerous photographs that were taken and collected by Levin.
The Diana Davies photographs consist of images taken by Diana Davies at various stages of her career. Locations include the Festival of American Folklife, the Newport Folk Festival, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, the Poor People's Campaign, various peace and protest marches and outdoor performances, New York City, and the Georgia Sea Islands. The collection includes contact sheets, negatives, photographic prints, and slides. Original photographs, negatives, and color slides taken by Diana Davies. Materials date from 1963-2009. Bulk dates: Newport Folk Festival, 1963-1969, 1987, 1992; Philadelphia Folk Festival, 1967-1968, 1987.
More than 300 reels of 16mm black and white and color film, silent and sound, fiction and documentary motion picture film documenting jazz and related musical performances, social and popular dance styles and performances, jazz musicians, performance locales, and documentation of African-American popular culture. A list of featured performers in the collection is shown below. The films are frequently compilations produced by Smith for lectures.
Duncan Schiedt (1921-2014) was a jazz scholar, writer, photographer, film maker, researcher and pianist. He authored four books relating to jazz history. Many of his photographs and articles were featured in magazines, periodicals and documentaries. Schiedt also collected the work of other photographers on the subject of jazz. The collection primarily consists of photographs created by or collected by Mr. Schiedt.