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Gilbert (Peggy) Collection
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Collection Details
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  • Biographical Information:
  • Scope and Contents
  • Arrangement of Materials:
  • Conditions Governing Access:
  • Conditions Governing Use:
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Preferred Citation:
  • Processing Information:

  • Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives
    Title: Peggy Gilbert Collection
    Creator: Gilbert, Peggy, 1905-2007
    Identifier/Call Number: SC.PG
    Extent: 5.66 linear feet
    Date (inclusive): 1920-2007
    Abstract: Peggy Gilbert was a saxophonist and band leader. From the 1930s through 1996 she led several all-girl orchestras and bands. An advocate for women musicians, she arranged for bookings and contracts. She was an active member in Local 47 of the Musician's Union. The Peggy Gilbert Collection contains the personal music scores, scrapbooks, and photographs of Peggy Gilbert, with a few items from her youth. The audio materials in the collection include an interview with Peggy Gilbert and a program about her life which aired on the BBC in 2007.
    Language of Material: English

    Biographical Information:

    Peggy Gilbert (1905-2007) was a saxophonist and band leader. From the 1930s through 1996 she led several all-girl orchestras and bands. An advocate for women musicians, she arranged for bookings and contracts and was an active member in Local 47 of the Musicians' Union.
    After playing with an all-girl band, Boots and Her Buddies, in the 1930s, Gilbert formed her own band in 1933 which played in Honolulu. She changed the name of her musical groups frequently. They played in Hollywood films and in clubs such as the Coconut Grove, Garden of Allah, and in 1937, Hollywood's Second "Swing Concert" at The Palomar in Los Angeles. Her band played on radio and toured with the USO during the 1940s, and from 1949 to 1970 she worked at Local 47 as a secretary.
    After retiring, Gilbert continued to serve on Local 47's board of directors and wrote a column called "Tuning in on Femme Musicians" for the union's monthly publication, The Overture. In 1974, at the age of 69, she formed a new band, the Dixie Belles with whom she performed at numerous events and jazz festivals, including an appearance on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1981 and two appearances on episodes of The Golden Girls in 1982 and 1988. She stopped performing in 1996 and died at the age of 102 in 2007.

    Scope and Contents

    The Peggy Gilbert Collection documents the life and career of female jazz saxophonist and bandleader Peggy Gilbert. The collection documents the bands and orchestras she led and various groups in which she played during the 1930s and 1940s, her time spent working for the Los Angeles musicians union, Local 47, throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the various movies and TV shows she appeared on, accolades bestowed upon her, and the formation of her all-girl band the Dixie Belles from 1974 to 1996. The collection contains Gilbert's scrapbooks, photographs, newspaper clippings, posters, plaques, awards, Compact Discs, correspondence, and musical scores.  The collection has been divided into four series: Scrapbooks (1920-2007), Music and Notes (1936-2006), Plaques and Other Awards (ca. 1929-2007), and Card Files and Compact Discs (1986-2007).
    Series I, Scrapbooks, consists of eleven of Peggy Gilbert's personal scrapbooks which document over eight decades of Gilbert's life and career, and make up the bulk of the collection. They document some of her early bands from the 1930s and 1940s, including her participation in the all-woman group Boots and Her Buddies as well as her own bands and orchestras. It includes posters and news articles advertising and describing her bands' performances at venues such as the Coconut Grove, Garden of Allah, and Orpheum Theatre, as well as various movies in which she appeared including The Wet Parade in 1932 and Start Cheering in 1938. Additionally, this series documents the time she spent working at Local 47 of the musicians union in the 1950s and 1960s, and contains copies of her column "Tuning in on Femme Musicians," which she wrote for the union's monthly publication, The Overture, from 1979 to 1984. The series includes extensive photographs, articles, and correspondence regarding the Dixie Belles. The series is arranged in loosely chronological order.
    Series II, Music and Notes, contains Gilbert's musical scores and instrumental parts ranging from a tune entitled "Dixie Belle" by Anthony Horowitz to a musical co-written by Gilbert in the 1950s titled Mr. Chick Tapp, detailing the story of a tap-dancing chicken. The series also includes various songs, a manuscript, a sketchbook, certificates of copyright registration, jazz charts, CDs and press kits for Barabara Schottenfeld and Denise Wells, correspondence with composer Bob Nichols,  and  a notebook entitled "Sex or Sax. My Book Notes" which contains Gilbert's reminiscences. The series is arranged alphabetically.
    Series III, Plaques and Other Awards, includes various awards that Peggy Gilbert received throughout her life. The majority of these plaques and awards were presented to Gilbert later in her life, including a 1989 "Life Member of the Year" award from the Musicians' Union Local 47 of Southern California, a 1982 "Golden Mask Award" from the Hollywood Appreciation Society, and a 2005 City of Los Angeles Resolution wishing Peggy Gilbert a happy 100 th birthday.  Additionally, this series includes a film poster of Peggy Gilbert and Her All Girl Band, some large photographs from 1920s-1950s, and a frisbee hand painted with a picture of Gilbert dressed in Dixie Belle attire and playing the saxophone. The series is arranged by format.
    Series IV, Card Files and Compact Discs, contains a large number of Tune-Dex cards, which are 3 x 5 inch index cards with the melodies and chord changes of popular tunes found on one side, and the corresponding copyright information found on the reverse. This series also includes invitations for the Pioneer Musicians of Los Angeles Luncheon and Concert held in 1986, an audio interview of Peggy Gilbert conducted in 1998, and a BBC program about her life from 2007. The series is arranged by format.

    Arrangement of Materials:

    Series I: Scrapbooks, 1920-2007
    Series II: Music and Notes, 1936-2006
    Series III: Plaques and Other Awards, ca. 1929-2007
    Series IV: Card Files and Compact Discs, 1986-2007

    Conditions Governing Access:

    The collection is open for research use.

    Conditions Governing Use:

    Copyright for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection has not been transferred to California State University, Northridge. Copyright status for other materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Jeannie Pool, 2008

    Preferred Citation:

    For information about citing items in this collection consult the appropriate style manual, or see the Citing Archival Materials  guide.

    Processing Information:

    Tony Gardner

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Audiovisual materials