Guide to the Peggy Gilbert Collection

Special Collections & Archives
University Library
California State University, Northridge
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330-8326


© Copyright 2020 Special Collections & Archives. All rights reserved.

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


Series I: Scrapbooks and Photo Album, 1920-2007

Box 1, Folder 1

Scrapbook 1, Boots and her Buddies, 1931

Box 1, Folder 2

Scrapbook 1, Correspondence

Box 1, Folder 3

Scrapbook 1, Films, Start Cheering, 1938

Box 1, Folder 4

Scrapbook 1, Local 47, ca. 1930-ca. 1939

Box 1, Folder 5

Scrapbook 1, Manila Hotel

Box 1, Folder 6

Scrapbook 1, Melody Girls, 1927

Box 1, Folder 7

Scrapbook 1, News Clippings, 1930-1939

Box 1, Folder 8

Scrapbook 1, Newsletter, 1928 December 1

Box 1, Folder 9

Scrapbook 1, Peggy Gilbert's Parents, Photographs

Box 1, Folder 10

Scrapbook 1, Venues, 1935-1939

Box 1, Folder 11

Scrapbook 1, Venues, Los Angeles Breakfast Club

Box 1, Folder 12

Scrapbook 1, Venues, Penn Albert Hotel

Box 1, Folder 13

Scrapbook 1, Venues, Zenda Ballroom

Box 1, Folder 14

Scrapbook 2, Local 47, 1942

Box 1, Folder 15

Scrapbook 2, News Clippings, 1945

Box 1, Folder 16

Scrapbook 2, Overture, "Women in Music," 1947

Box 1, Folder 17

Scrapbook 2, Venues

Box 1, Folder 18

Scrapbook 2, Venues, Garden of Allah

Box 1, Folder 19

Scrapbook 3, Dixie Belles, 1974

Box 1, Folder 20

Scrapbook 3, Hollywood Canteen, Service Award, 1967

Box 1, Folder 21

Scrapbook 3, Local 47, 1967

Box 1, Folder 22

Scrapbook 4, Correspondence

Box 1, Folder 23

Scrapbook 4, Local 47

Box 1, Folder 24

Scrapbook 4, News Clippings

Box 1, Folder 25

Scrapbook 4, Press Releases, Dixie Belles

Box 1, Folder 26

Scrapbook 4, Tournament of Roses, 1980

Box 1, Folder 27

Scrapbook 4, Tuning in on femme musicians

Box 1, Folder 28

Scrapbook 4, Venues, Dixie Belles

Box 1, Folder 29

Scrapbook 4, Women in Media and the Performing Arts, 1975

Box 1, Folder 30

Scrapbook 4, Research on Women Composers

Box 2, Folder 1

Scrapbook 5, Awards

Box 2, Folder 2

Scrapbook 5, Correspondence

Box 2, Folder 3

Scrapbook 5, Correspondence, 1981

Box 2, Folder 4

Scrapbook 5, Correspondence, 1982

Box 2, Folder 5

Scrapbook 5, Local 47

Box 2, Folder 6

Scrapbook 5, News Clippings

Box 2, Folder 7

Scrapbook 5, Photographs

Box 2, Folder 8

Scrapbook 5, Television Script

Box 2, Folder 9

Scrapbook 5, Tuning in on Femme Musicians

Box 2, Folder 10

Scrapbook 5, Venues, Dixie Belles

Box 2, Folder 11

Scrapbook 5, Venues, Dixie Belles, Annual Los Angeles Street Scene

Box 2, Folder 12

Scrapbook 5, Venues, Dixie Belles, Johnny Carson Show, 1981

Box 2, Folder 13

Scrapbook 6, Congress of Strings

Box 2, Folder 14

Scrapbook 6, Correspondence

Box 2, Folder 15

Scrapbook 6, Directories

Box 2, Folder 16

Scrapbook 6, International Congress on Women in Music

Box 2, Folder 17

Scrapbook 6, News Clippings

Box 2, Folder 18

Scrapbook 6, Tuning in on Femme Musicians

Box 2, Folder 19

Scrapbook 6, Venues, Dixie Belles

Box 3, Folder 1

Scrapbook 7, Correspondence

Box 3, Folder 2

Scrapbook 7, Directories

Box 3, Folder 3

Scrapbook 7, Exhibitions

Box 3, Folder 4

Scrapbook 7, Music Scores

Box 3, Folder 5

Scrapbook 7, News Clippings

Box 3, Folder 6

Scrapbook 7, Pioneer Women Musicians of Los Angeles

Box 3, Folder 7

Scrapbook 7, Press Releases

Box 3, Folder 8

Scrapbook 7, Venues, Dixie Belles

Box 3, Folder 9

Scrapbook 7, Venues, Forum Theatre

Box 3, Folder 10

Scrapbook 8, Awards and Honors

Box 3, Folder 11

Scrapbook 8, Awards and Honors, Local 47

Box 3, Folder 12

Scrapbook 8, Awards and Honors, Sigma Alpha Iota

Box 3, Folder 13

Scrapbook 8, Congress of Strings

Box 3, Folder 14

Scrapbook 8, Correspondence

Box 3, Folder 15

Scrapbook 8, Directories

Box 3, Folder 16

Scrapbook 8, Interview, Overture, May 1988

Box 3, Folder 17

Scrapbook 8, News Clippings

Box 3, Folder 18

Scrapbook 8, News Clippings, People Magazine, f 1989

Box 3, Folder 19

Scrapbook 8, Press Releases

Box 3, Folder 20

Scrapbook 8, Television Script, Golden Girls

Box 3, Folder 21

Scrapbook 8, Venues, Dixie Belles

Box 3, Folder 22

Scrapbook 9, Awards, Honors

Box 3, Folder 23

Scrapbook 9, Awards, Honors, International Association for Jazz Education, 2002

Box 3, Folder 24

Scrapbook 9, 100th Birthday

Box 3, Folder 25

Scrapbook 9, 101st Birthday

Box 3, Folder 26

Scrapbook 9, Christmas, 1997

Box 3, Folder 27

Scrapbook 9, Correspondence

Box 3, Folder 28

Scrapbook 9, Directories

Box 3, Folder 29

Scrapbook 9, Dixie Belles Stationary

Box 3, Folder 30

Scrapbook 9, Films, Peggy Gilbert and Her All Girl Band

Box 3, Folder 31

Scrapbook 9, Local 47

Box 3, Folder 32

Scrapbook 9, News Clippings

Box 3, Folder 33

Scrapbook 9, Obituaries

Box 3, Folder 34

Scrapbook 9, Press Releases

Box 3, Folder 35

Scrapbook 9, Venues, Dixie Belles

Box 3, Folder 36

Scrapbook 9, You Bet Your Life

Box 8, Folder 1

Scrapbook 10, News Clippings, 1932-1935

Box 8, Folder 2

Scrapbook 10, News Clippings, 1936-1938

Box 8, Folder 3

Scrapbook 10, News Clippings, 1940-1946

Box 8, Folder 4

Scrapbook 10, News Clippings, 1960-1974

Box 8, Folder 5

Scrapbook 10, News Clippings, 1975-1980

Box 8, Folder 6

Scrapbook 10, News Clippings, 1981-1983

Box 8, Folder 7

Scrapbook 10, News Clippings, 1984

Box 8, Folder 8

Scrapbook 10, News Clippings, 1985-1986

Box 8, Folder 9

Scrapbook 10, Venues, Dixie Belles, 1985-1986

Box 8, Folder 10

Scrapbook 10, News Clippings, 1987-1989

Box 8, Folder 11

Scrapbook 10, Birthdays, 100th-102nd, 1990-2007

Box 8, Folder 12

Scrapbook 10, News Clippings, 1990-2007

Box 8, Folder 13

Scrapbook 10, Recordings, 1990-2007

Box 9, Folder 1

Scrapbook 11, Peggy Gilbert and Her Dixie Belles

Box 9, Folder 2

Scrapbook 11, Dixie Belles, Snapshots of Venues

Box 9, Folder 3

Scrapbook 11, Retirement Party, ca. January 1970


Series II: Music and Notes, 1936-2006

Box 4, Folder 1

Dixie Belle

Box 4, Folder 1a

Dixieland Jazz

Box 4, Folder 2

Don't be a Fool

Box 4, Folder 3

Don't Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve

Box 4, Folder 4

Gettin' Even

Box 4, Folder 5

I Found My Love in the Yellow Pages

Box 4, Folder 6

I'll See You Again

Box 4, Folder 7

If You Don't Think I'm Leaving

Box 4, Folder 8

Is There Room in Your Heart for Me

Box 4, Folder 9

Molasses, Molasses

Box 4, Folder 10

Mr. Chick Tapp, Copyright Registration

Box 4, Folder 11

Mr. Chick Tapp, Drawings by Peggy Gilbert

Box 4, Folder 12

Mr. Chick Tapp, Manuscript

Box 4, Folder 13

Mr. Chick Tapp, Music Score, "Ballet de Square Egg"

Box 4, Folder 14

Mr. Chick Tapp, Music Score, "Put the Pots on"

Box 4, Folder 15

Mr. Chick Tapp, Music Score, "The Belles are on their Way"

Box 4, Folder 16

Mr. Chick Tapp, Music Score, "Who Parked the Car"

Box 4, Folder 17

Mr. Chick Tapp, Music Scores, "Chick Tap, Kitten without Mittens, I See Pink People"

Box 4, Folder 18

Mr. Chick Tapp, Prologue

Box 4, Folder 19

Mr. Chick Tapp, Script

Box 4, Folder 20

Mr. Chick Tapp, Story Outline

Box 4, Folder 21

Mr. Chick Tapp, Typescript

Box 4, Folder 22

My Lonely Heart, Correspondence with Composer Bob Nichols

Box 4, Folder 23


Box 4, Folder 24

Press Kit, Hot and Sweet, Barbara Schottenfeld

Box 4, Folder 25

"Rodeo Cowboy"

Box 4, Folder 26

"Sacramento Jubilee"

Box 4, Folder 27

Sex or Sax, My Book Notes

Box 4, Folder 28


Box 4, Folder 29

"Wang, Wang Blues"

Box 4, Folder 30

Wells, Denise

Box 4, Folder 31

"You Can't See Me in My Jammies"

Box 4, Folder 32

"You Just Drive Me Screwy"


Series III: Plaques and Other Awards, ca. 1929-2007

Box 5, Folder 1

Plaques and Other Awards

Box 6, Folder 1

Plaques and Other Awards

Box 9, Folder 4

Plaques and Other Awards

Folder 1

Awards and Posters

Folder 1, Item 1

County of Los Angeles Commendation

Folder 1, Item 2

City of Los Angeles Resolution on Peggy Gilbert's 100th Birthday, 2005 January 17

Folder 1, Item 3

California Legislature, Assembly Resolution on Peggy Gilbert's 100th Birthday, 2005 January 17

Folder 1, Item 4

Film Poster, Peggy Gilbert and Her All Girl Band

Folder 2

Oversize Photographs, ca. 1920-ca. 1949


Series IV: Card Files and Compact Discs, 1986-2007

Box 7, Folder 1

Tune-Dex Cards

Box 7, Folder 2

Card File for Pioneer Musicians of Los Angeles Luncheon and Concert, 1986

Box 7, Folder 3

Peggy Gilbert Interview by Sherrie Tucker, Studio City, California, 1998 September 22-1998 September 23

Scope and Contents

6 compact disks
Box 7, Folder 4

BBC Program, Brief Lives: Obituary of Peggy Gilbert by Jeanne Poole, 2007 March 3

Scope and Contents

21:00 - 25:00