Finding Aids Home

Ruth T. Watanabe Special Collections
Sibley Music Library
Eastman School of Music
University of Rochester

Processed by Austin Richey and Gail E. Lowther;
Finding aid by Gail E. Lowther (Fall 2018)







Shelf location: C4A, 1, 1 — 5, 2
Extent: 90 linear feet

Biographical Sketch

Ms. McPartland’s life and career have been amply described elsewhere. This brief sketch is provided for convenience and is intended to complement the particular materials that comprise this collection.

Marian McPartland (née Margaret Marian Turner) was born in Slough, Buckinghamshire, England, on March 20, 1918. She demonstrated early aptitude in music and, at the age of seventeen, earned a scholarship to the prestigious Guildhall School of Music in London to study classical piano. Her passion for American jazz, however, led her to leave Guildhall in 1938, before completing her degree, to tour with Billy Mayerl’s Claviers, a four-piano vaudeville act, under the stage name “Marian Page.” During World War II, while performing with the USO, Marian met Jimmy McPartland, an American cornetist and bandleader. After a brief courtship, the couple married in Aachen, Germany, on February 3, 1945.

After the war, the McPartlands settled first in Chicago, where Marian joined Jimmy’s band and played his style of Dixieland jazz at clubs throughout the Midwest. In 1949, the couple moved to New York, and, soon after, Marian established her own trio. In 1952, the trio began regular appearances at the Hickory House, a Manhattan nightclub, where McPartland gained a reputation as a superb interpreter and forceful improviser. As her reputation grew, McPartland was offered numerous solo and trio engagements in the US and internationally as well as a five-album deal with Capital Records. After her residency at the Hickory House concluded in 1962, she was invited to join Benny Goodman’s septet for their 1963 tour. Over the next decade, she maintained an active performing schedule, which included frequent appearances at jazz festivals in Nice, Montreux, Antibes, Berlin, and Monterey, as well as at the JVC Jazz Festival in New York City and the Kansas City Women’s Jazzfest.

In addition to her impressive performance and recording career, McPartland embarked on a number of other endeavors spanning jazz education, scholarship, and advocacy. She was a pioneer in jazz education, and, from 1955 on, initiated projects to introduce jazz to schoolchildren. These educational outreach efforts ultimately included several extended collaborations with public schools in Long Island, NY, and Washington, DC, during the 1960s-1970s, as well as many dozens of workshops, school concerts, and seminars. (The jazz education program for the Washington, DC, schools would become a model for similar endeavors around the country.) In 1986, she became the first woman to be named Jazz Educator of the Year by the National Association of Jazz Educators.

In 1969, McPartland co-founded a private record label, Halcyon Records, with Sherman Fairchild and Hank O’Neal. The trio founded Halcyon as a vehicle for promoting lesser-known jazz artists who had been dropped from larger labels. Over its 10-years of production, Halcyon released a total of 18 albums, including several featuring McPartland herself.

In 1978, McPartland launched Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz, a weekly radio jazz program developed and produced by South Carolina Educational Radio and distributed nationally by National Public Radio. For more than 30 years, Piano Jazz provided a unique insider’s perspective of jazz and jazz improvisation as McPartland engaged her guests in conversation and music-making. The radio program received multiple awards, including the prestigious Peabody Award in 1984 and the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award in 1991 as well as honors from the New York Festival and the Foundation of American Women in Radio and Television.

In the late 1970s, inspired by her participation in the Women’s Jazz Festival in Kansas City, McPartland began extensive research for a projected historical reference book about women in jazz. In 1979, she applied for and received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to write the book and secured a contract with Oxford University Press; an additional fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation followed in 1980. Although McPartland completed dozens of interviews with women musicians for her book, the project did not materialize as initially envisioned. Instead, Oxford published a collection of essays and articles by McPartland under the title All in Good Time (1987; reissued in 2003).

McPartland received numerous honors in recognition of her lifetime of contributions to jazz and jazz education. She was awarded several honorary doctorates, including one from the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music (2007). She was also named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master (2000) and received a Grammy Trustee’s Award for Lifetime Achievement (2004). In 2007, she was recognized as a Living Jazz Legend by the Kennedy Center and was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame. In 2010, McPartland was named a member of the Order of the British Empire.

McPartland died on August 20, 2013, at the age of 95 at her home in Port Washington, NY.


The Marian McPartland Collection was received by the Sibley Music Library in May 2014 from the Estate of Marian McPartland. The gift of the collection was facilitated by Ms. Donna Gourdol, step-granddaughter of Ms. McPartland.

Scope and Contents

The collection comprises the personal and professional papers of Marian McPartland, including assorted documents as well as a substantial collection of photographs and audiovisual material. The series of papers includes correspondence and various professional documents pertaining to McPartland’s international career as a performing musician and educator as well as materials from her historical research on women in jazz (including research notes and materials, transcripts of interviews, and drafts of published articles and essays) and publicity materials from the long-running radio show Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz. The collection also includes a finite collection of items pertaining to her husband, Jimmy McPartland, and his own notable career as a jazz musician and bandleader.

The extent of audiovisual material is considerable and includes not only commercial and personal recordings of Marian McPartland and Jimmy McPartland but also records performances and jam sessions featuring many significant figures in jazz, such as Eubie Blake, Bix Beiderbecke, Art Tatum, and Mary Lou Williams. A significant portion of Halcyon Records’ albums are represented in the Collection, including masters, dubs, and outtakes for all of the label’s 18 albums.

Restrictions on use

There is no restriction on research access for study; however, the provisions of the U.S. Copyright Law and its revisions do attend use of the collection. The written consent of all copyright owners will be required in the event of any reproduction requests.


The Marian McPartland Collection is one of a growing body of collections at RTWSC that document the work and professional careers of prominent jazz artists; see, for example, the Rayburn Wright Collection and the Bob Brookmeyer Collection. The Sibley Music Library also holds the manuscripts of Mike Arena, a Rochester composer and arranger who worked closely with several Eastman faculty in the jazz department. In addition, the Hal Schuler Collection of jazz photographs contains more than 300 photographs of solo jazz performers and/or ensembles, including several internationally recognized musicians.

Due to Marian McPartland’s close personal and professional relationship with Alec Wilder, the Alec Wilder Archive at RTWSC may also be of interest. In fact, several items in the Wilder Archive were donated by Ms. McPartland (e.g., original manuscripts of Wilder’s music, correspondence, and sound recordings).

Additionally, Ms. McPartland’s work is represented in several collections and repositories outside of the Eastman School of Music. In 1990, the McPartlands donated a collection of photographs, reviews, concert ephemera, correspondence, and additional memorabilia to the Chicago Jazz Archive at the University of Chicago; these items have been preserved in the Jimmy and Marian McPartland Collection, which is housed in the Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library. An archive of sound recordings of Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz series is housed at the New York Public Library’s Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound; this collection, which contains more than 100 recordings, was the gift of the South Carolina Educational Radio and TV Network (donated 1987-1994). Additionally, Marian and Jimmy McPartland recorded several oral histories recounting their professional careers in jazz; this includes interviews for the Institute for Jazz Studies at Rutgers University, Yale University’s Oral History of American Music, the National Museum of American History (Smithsonian Institution), and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (New York Public Library).


The collection has been arranged into nine major series, which are subdivided as described below:

Series 1: Sheet Music

This series contains a limited amount of sheet music, consisting of published imprints and facsimiles of personal music. This includes both original compositions by Marian McPartland and arrangements thereof as well as music by other composers.

Sub-series A: Compositions by Marian McPartland
Sub-series B: Performance Scores and Library

Series 2: Papers

This series contains documents generated and collected by Marian McPartland over the course of her professional career as a performer, recording artist, educator, writer, and scholar.

Several of the papers, namely some of McPartland’s professional papers and materials relating to her scholarly research, were received grouped in file folders organized under McPartland’s own headings. When present, these headings have been preserved in the Collection’s organization and folder titles.

 Sub-series A: Professional Papers

This series is comprised of various documents representative of Marian McPartland’s professional career as a performing artist and jazz educator, such as artist contracts, itineraries, and documents related to school residencies and workshops.

Sub-series B: Correspondence

This sub-series contains letters and documents of both a personal and professional nature. Within each folder, the correspondence is arranged alphabetically by each correspondent’s surname and then chronologically by date.

Sub-series C: Research and Writing

This sub-series consists of original writings by Marian McPartland, including drafts and published imprints, as well as research notes. A substantial portion of this sub-series relates to McPartland’s research on women jazz musicians, including research on the legendary all-female jazz ensemble the International Sweethearts of Rhythm. Research materials related to this project, including notes, interview transcripts, press clippings, and photographs, are extant in this sub-series, as well as drafts of essays and articles based on this material.

 Sub-series D: Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz

This sub-series is comprised of various materials pertaining to Marian McPartland’s work on her long-running radio series on National Public Radio, Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz. Items represented include publicity and press materials related to the broadcasts, such as program guides, circulars, press releases, publicity photographs, and other promotional materials. Additional documents in this sub-series include correspondence and research material prepared for McPartland’s Piano Jazz program with Artie Shaw.

 Sub-series E: Documents Separated from AV Materials

Several of the audiovisual materials in the Collection (Series 8) were originally accompanied by documents or other papers (e.g., separate track lists or various manuscript notes). When possible, these papers were separated and housed in folders within this sub-series.


Series 3: Publicity and Press Materials

This series is comprised of a variety of documents that chronicle Marian McPartland’s professional and personal activities. These items have been divided into two categories of materials, following the items’ original organization:

Sub-series A: Press Clippings

This sub-series is comprised of loose press clippings that document McPartland’s professional career. Items are organized in chronological sequence, and undated clippings are housed in separate folders within the series.

 Sub-series B: Concert Programs and Publicity

This sub-series contains concert programs, posters, flyers, circulars, and other publicity material associated with Marian McPartland and her professional activities. These items have been organized chronologically.


Series 4: Association with Jimmy McPartland

Marian McPartland maintained a collection of materials documenting the career of her husband, Jimmy McPartland. These items were received as a discrete collection, with various items grouped in labeled folders. Where extant, the original folder headings and organization of the materials have been preserved.

Series 5: Photographs

This series is comprised of photographs, including prints, negatives, and contact prints. The photographs chronicle Marian McPartland’s professional career and personal association with various jazz and other musicians. The photographs were received organized in folders, and the following sub-series divisions approximate the original folder headings.

Sub-series A: Photographs of Marian McPartland
Sub-series B: Photographs of School Workshops and Projects
Sub-series C: Photographs of Marian McPartland and Jimmy McPartland
Sub-series D: Photographs of Jimmy McPartland
Sub-series E: Photographs of Celebrities

The photographs in this sub-series were filed by Marian McPartland under the heading “Celebrities.” Photographs of individual celebrities, either alone or posing with Marian and/or Jimmy McPartland, have been arranged alphabetically by last name. Photographs containing multiple individuals have been grouped in the folder “Miscellaneous Celebrities”; these photographs have been sorted alphabetically by the last name of the first individual listed in the photograph’s caption (i.e., usually the individual appearing on the left-most side of the photograph).

Series 6: Honors and Awards

 This series is comprised of honorary degrees, certificates of recognition, trophies, plaques, medals, and other honors bestowed on Marian McPartland in recognition of her achievement and significant contributions to jazz music and jazz education. Where practical, these materials have been arranged chronologically; elsewhere in the series, the items have been housed in a manner to facilitate ease of filing and storage. Some items in the series are accompanied by associated materials, such as photographs and correspondence pertaining to the respective honor or award.

 Series 7: Library

This series contains a portion of Marian McPartland’s collection of literature related to jazz and, in particular, women jazz musicians. The items are arranged alphabetically by author.

Series 8: Audio-Visual Materials

This sub-series comprises Marian McPartland’s library of sound recordings and audio-visual recordings. Represented among these materials are commercial recordings, including masters, dubs, and outtakes, and non-commercial recordings of Marian McPartland, Jimmy McPartland, and others. Of particular note are several recordings associated with albums produced commercially by Halcyon Records; see, in particular, Sub-series D (7” Reel-to-Reel Audio Tapes) and Sub-series E (10” Reel-to-Reel Audio Tapes).

Each format has been assigned to its own sub-series. Within each sub-series, where applicable, the recordings are grouped by personnel (i.e., recordings of Marian McPartland, recordings of Jimmy McPartland, or recordings of other musicians), recording type (i.e., commercial recordings or non-commercial recordings), and content (i.e., recordings of workshops and clinics, recordings featuring compositions by Marian McPartland, or recordings of radio and television broadcasts and interviews).  Within each grouping, the recordings have been arranged chronologically; undated items are organized alphabetically by title.

Sub-series A: 3” Reel-to-Reel Audio Tapes
Sub-series B: 4” Reel-to-Reel Audio Tapes
Sub-series C: 5” Reel-to-Reel Audio Tape
Sub-series D: 7” Reel-to-Reel Audio Tape
Sub-series E: 10” Reel-to-Reel Audio Tape
Sub-series F: 7” Phonograph Discs
Sub-series G: 8” Phonograph Discs
Sub-series H: 10” Phonograph Discs
Sub-series I: 12” Phonograph Discs
Sub-series J: Cassette Tapes
Sub-series K: Compact Discs
Sub-series L: Film Reels
Sub-series M: VHS Tapes
Sub-series N: U-Matic Cassette Tapes

Series 9: Oversized

This series has been created for the ease of filing and is comprised of documents that require special housing consideration on grounds of their oversized dimensions. The individual items and folder entries are annotated with respect to the series and sub-series designations from which the given documents were separated. The oversized materials have been divided into five sub-series according to material type:

Sub-series A: Oversized Papers
Sub-series B: Oversized Publicity and Press Materials

Sub-sub-series 1: Press Clippings
Sub-sub-series 2: Concert Publicity
Sub–sub-series 3: Press Books
During the 1960s and 1970s, McPartland maintained a series of scrapbooks devoted to her professional endeavors. The majority of documents in these scrapbooks are publicity and press materials, concert programs, photographs, and correspondence.

 Sub-series C: Association with Jimmy McPartland
Sub-series D: Oversized Photographs

Sub-sub-series 1: Photographs of Marian McPartland
Sub-sub-series 2: Framed Photographs

 Sub-series E: Oversized Honors and Awards