Rutgers University Libraries

Mary Lou Willia

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Mary Lou Williams (1910-1981) was a pivotal figure in the nearly exclusive men's club of top jazz artists because of the many talents she brought to the stage. Se was a superlative pianist, composer, arranger, teacher, and the founder of her own record label. When he was looking for the right place to house her large collection of materials and memorabilia in 1999, Father Peter O'Brien, Mary Lou Williams' manager and confidant, wanted a site that could foster a greater understanding of her central role in the development of jazz.

It was no surprise that he chose the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers. "The extent and scope of the Institute's collection give the right context for anyone researching the life and work of Mary Lou," said Father O'Brien. He donated 170 boxes of music manuscripts, original artwork, personal correspondence, financial and legal records, photographs, original sound recordings, videotapes, programs, press clippings and other items to the Institute that year.

The Institute wasted no time in organizing the collection and making its availability known to the public. Archivist Annie Kuebler worked with funding from the national Endowment for the Humanities to catalog all the materials. The media services department staff at the John Cotton Dana Library and students in a graduate level database management class created a Web site with information on Williams' life story, photographs, and samples of her music. Press coverage of the initial donation appeared on the front page of the Newark Star Ledger "Today" section, the front page of the Rutgers Focus, and in other publications.

In September 2001, the Institute created an exhibition of Williams' work titled "In the Land of Oo-bla-dee," which featured record covers, music manuscripts, personal notes, photos and other items from the collection. More recently Mary Lou Williams was added to the Digital Jazz Greats Exhibit that appears on this Web site.

Bel Canto
Booking Agents
Box 1
Business I
Business III
Business IV
Cecilia Music
Correspondence I
Correspondence II
Correspondence III
Duke University
Educational Institutions
Grants & Schools
Herbie Nichols
Honorary Degrees
Legal Affairs
Library of Congress Oversize Artwork Publications Subseries Fan Mail
MLW Art Performances I Recordings Tables Greeting Cards
MLW Audio Performances II Recording Companies Tapes
MLW Business Records Performances III Religious Television
Music Manuscripts Personal Bills I Royalties Timeline
Music Scope Personal Bills II Scope Banking Video List
MLW Scrapbooks Inventory Personal Labels Scope Radio Video Reference
MLW Reference Library Photographs Scope Religious

Name File Professional Organizations Series Listing



Institute of Jazz Studies
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
John Cotton Dana Library
185 University Ave.
Newark NJ USA 07102
Tel: (973) 353-5595
Fax: (973) 353-5944