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Guide to the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society records
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Administrative History
  • Arrangement
  • Scope and Content

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society records
    Date Range: 1950-2003
    Date (bulk): bulk 1974-1998
    Collection Number: MS0007
    Collector: Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society
    Extent: 58 linear feet
    Repository: Center for Sacramento History
    551 Sequoia Pacific Blvd.
    Sacramento, California 95811
    Abstract: The Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society (STJS) began on Sunday May 5, 1968, with a group of local jazz musicians gathering at the Orangevale Grange Hall to play for a small group of jazz fans. The musicians included Dr. Bill Borcher, the Dean of Men at American River College and trumpet player for the Delta Moonlighters; John Knurr, a local high school music teacher; jazz trombonist Jerry Kaehele; and George Boyd and his Good Time Go-to-Meeting Band. The non-profit organization holds an annual Jazz Jubilee Festival on Memorial Day weekend and conducts jazz education programs and community outreach. STJS is the largest traditional jazz organization in the United States. The collection dates from 1952 to 2003, with the bulk of the material dating from 1974 to 1998 and includes correspondence, financial documents, legal documents, meeting records, grant applications, publications, directors files, photographs, programs, and brochures.

    Administrative Information


    The collection is open for research.

    Conditions Governing Use

    All requests to publish or quote from collections held by the Center for Sacramento History (CSH) must be submitted in writing to csh@cityofsacramento.org. Permission for publication is given on behalf of CSH as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the patron. No permission is necessary to publish or quote from public records.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], MS0007, Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society records, Center for Sacramento History.

    Acquisition Information,

    Acquired in 2001 from Mike Foley (accession number 2001/062) and 2022 from Patrick Skiffington (accession number 2022/006).

    Processing History

    Processed by Lola Aguilar, 2006. Finding aid prepared using DACS by Lola Aguilar, 2007. Machine-readable finding aid created by Lola Aguilar, 2007.

    Administrative History

    The Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society (STJS) began on Sunday May 5, 1968, with a group of local jazz musicians gathering at the Orangevale Grange Hall to play for a small group of jazz fans. The musicians included Dr. Bill Borcher, the Dean of Men at American River College and trumpet player for the Delta Moonlighters; John Knurr, a local high school music teacher; jazz trombonist Jerry Kaehele; and George Boyd and his Good Time Go-to-Meeting Band. Originally named the New Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society, the musicians met informally in the afternoon on the first Sunday of the month and elected Jerry Kaelhele as the first president, Jack Burke as vice president, and Roy Harper as secretary-treasurer. As news of the Jazz Society spread, more jazz musicians joined the Sunday sessions and their membership grew. In October 1969, Borcher helped friends arrange a fundraiser on the Delta King riverboat, which attracted a crowd of 4,000. Publicity from that fundraiser and two more successful fundraisers in November and December of that year generated even more public interest in jazz. The STJS soon outgrew the Orangevale Grange Hall, and in 1970 the musicians moved their Sunday concerts to larger venues, like the El Rancho Motel and the Carmichael Elks Lodge. For the next three years, paid guest artists and bands joined STJS musicians in performances around Sacramento.
    In late 1973, Borcher and then-President Ozzie Belmore organized a committee to investigate the feasibility of holding a Jazz Festival in Sacramento, noting that similar festivals in Monterey and Newport had attracted wide audiences. The next year, the STJS debuted the Dixieland Jazz Jubilee on Memorial Day weekend. Seven performance sites in West Sacramento and Old Sacramento featured 21 bands, 300 volunteers, and attracted 3,000 jazz fans. Admission badges for that first year cost $12.50 for three days and revenues totaled $32,000, but expenses totaled $35,000. Despite the loss, the STJS decided to continue the Jubilee as an annual event, and eventually, it attracted over 100,000 attendees, with 146 bands and 47 performance sites, 3,800 volunteers, and revenues exceeding $20 million. Prestigious acts such as the Pied Pipers, Boots Randolph, Gary Crosby, Julius LaRosa, Pat Yankee, Bob Crosby's Bob Cats, the Ink Spots, and the Mills Brothers performed at the Jubilee over the years. Ticket sales declined, however, and in 1995, in an effort to attract a wider and younger audience, the STJS began including other types of jazz at the Jubilee, incorporating swing, gospel, Latin jazz, zydeco, and barbershop. As a way to further increase attendance, in 2014, the Jubilee was rebranded as the Sacramento Music Festival and began booking musical acts outside of the jazz genre. The final festival was held in 2017.
    The STJS incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1979 with the mission of preserving and promoting traditional jazz music through a number of programs, in addition to its annual music festival. In that same year, the organization established a Youth Scholarship Program, which expanded into the annual Trad Jazz Camp in 1986, a weeklong camp that provides intensive jazz instruction for approximately 100 young musicians ages 12-18 (and, starting in 2000, around 90 adults). In 1992, the STJS introduced the Jazz Ambassadors, who traveled throughout Northern California providing information about STJS programs and events, and the Elderhostel, which provided jazz instruction for seniors. At the time this finding aid was written in 2007, the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society claimed to be the largest traditional jazz organization in the United States, with organization membership at 5,000 and four paid employees.


    The collection is arranged into 7 series:
    • Series 1. Artifacts, 1974-2000
    • Series 2. Administrative Files, 1952-1999
    • Series 3. Jazz Jubilee, 1969-2003
    • Series 4. Trad Jazz Camp, 1973-1999
    • Series 5. Jazz Ambassadors, 1992-1995
    • Series 6. Elderhostel, 1992-1999
    • Series 7. Scrapbooks, 1992-1999
    • Series 8. Media, 1977-2000

    Scope and Content

    The Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society records span the years 1950 to 2003, with the bulk of the items dating from 1974 to 1998. The first series, Artifacts, consists of 5 cubic feet and includes button badges,T-shirts, hats, and a garter. Appendix A includes a complete list of artifacts.
    The second series, Administrative files, consists of eight cubic feet and three map case drawers, and is divided into eight subseries: Correspondence, Financial documents, Meeting records, Legal documents, Reports, Grant applications, Publications, and Ephemera. The items are arranged chronologically within each subseries and include balance sheets, treasurers reports, financial statements, committee reports, incorporation papers, by-laws and constitution, and musicians union information. These documents chronicle the growth of the organization from a small, informal gathering of musicians, to a highly successful nonprofit organization. The documents include changes made to the constitution and the by-laws as the organization grew. Committee reports include valuable information about the direction of the STJS, with changes in the types of committees which were necessary during the years when the organization started to expand. The STJS' efforts to acquire grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Sacramento Regional Foundation highlight the organization's nonprofit status. The Publications subseries contains an extensive collection of external jazz publications from other jazz organizations throughout the United States and Canada and are arranged alphabetically (these are listed in Appendix B). Ephemera includes fliers and brochures from other jazz festivals in Northern California.
    The third series contains the records of the Jazz Jubilee and consists of six cubic feet and three map case drawers, which are divided into 12 subseries: Correspondence, Directors files, Financial documents, Legal documents, Reports, Meeting records, Band information, Site information, Concessions, General information, Publications, and Ephemera. The Correspondence subseries contains letters and hard copies of emails, including letters between Jubilee organizers and several musicians, notably one letter from an ailing Hoagy Carmichael written by his wife. The letters in this subseries are arranged chronologically, and hard copies of email correspondence are arranged chronologically within alphabetical order. The General information subseries includes complete Jubilee files, but from only 13 years of the festival.
    The fourth series, Trad Jazz Camp, contains one cubic foot and includes correspondence, financial documents, minutes, class material, scholarship information, publications, and ephemera. Trad Jazz Camp newsletters are incomplete, but offer information about the inner workings of the camp.
    The fifth series, Jazz Ambassadors, consists of one file folder and includes general information detailing the duties and events concerning this program, including agendas and newsletters.
    The sixth series, Elderhostel, consists of one cubic foot. Items are arranged chronologically and include correspondence, class material, catalogs, newsletters, publications, ephemera, and general information about the programs. Class material includes handouts and class manuals used for jazz instruction.
    The seventh series, Scrapbooks, include general-information STJS scrapbooks, Jubilee scrapbooks, jazz history scrapbooks, and band scrapbooks.
    The eighth series includes VHS videotapes, reel-to-reel audiotapes, cassette tapes, slides, negatives, and over 5,000 photographs. Jubilees through the years are represented by hundreds of color and black and white photographs, including images of bands and guest artists such as Molly Ringwald, Tommy Newsome, and Phil Harris. Jazz band photographs are arranged alphabetically with a complete list in Appendix C.