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Finding Aid for the Gennett Sound Recording Collection 1917-1930
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing History
  • Historical Note
  • Scope and Content

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Gennett Sound Recording Collection,
    Date (inclusive): 1917-1930
    Collection number: 253-M
    Creator: Starr Piano Company. Gennett Record Division 1917-1932
    Extent: 2,142 sound discs
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Performing Arts Special Collections
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1490
    Abstract: The collection consists of 78 rpm. sound recordings published by the Gennett Record Company.
    Physical location: SRLF
    Language of Material: Collection materials in English


    The collection is open for research. Advance notification is required for use.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights in the physical objects belong to the UCLA Music Library. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish if the Music Library does not hold the copyright.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Gennett Sound Recording Collection, 253-M, Performing Arts Special Collections , University of California, Los Angeles.

    Processing History

    Processed by Performing Arts Special Collections Staff, October, 13, 2008
    The collection is in the midst of being processed. The finding aid will be updated periodically.

    Historical Note

    Gennett is a record company and label. The company was owned by the Starr Piano Company of Richmond, Indiana, and was named after the latter's three most important managers, Harry, Fred, and Clarence Gennett. Issue began in 1917, with the first discs being vertically cut; these included three items by the pianist Earl Fuller. Laterally cut discs were released from mid-1919, among them a recording by the New Orleans Jazz Band. The company made its first forays into the race-record market with material by white bands, and issued a long series of discs recorded in 1921 by the Original Memphis Five (under the pseudonym Ladd's Black Aces) and a more important sequence made in 1922–3 by the New Orleans Rhythm Kings (as the Friars Society Orchestra). Sessions by a few vaudeville blues singers were organized, but extensive recording of race material did not begin until 1923, when King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton both recorded for the label. These tracks formed the start of a series of recordings now held to be classics. Gennett never had a designated race series: instead, from 1924, it printed the relevant labels with the legend "race record," and was the only company to adopt this policy. The discs were generally issued in batches as part of the general sequence, especially after December 1926, when the catalogue reached 6000; at this point the company started to produce electrically made recordings, the Electrobeams.
    As well as exchanging masters with other small labels, Gennett provided recording facilities for Black Patti in 1926 and Paramount in 1929. The company also undertook much custom recording, offering its services to individuals and ensembles who were prepared to pay to make their own discs. Important jazz from this scheme, notably items by Jesse Crump, appears on unnumbered records with either Gennett or special labels. The label Gennett itself was discontinued in 1930, but the company continued to release discs on its subsidiary labels Champion and Superior before discontinuing its music labels at the end of 1934. The Champion trademark and the rights to some of Gennett's recordings were sold to Decca; as a consequence some of the company's more famous material was reissued on English Brunswick in the mid-1930s, but often with very poor sound quality. Gennett remained in the recording business (for sound effects and other purposes) throughout the 1930s, and as a result the company was given an allocation of shellac during World War II. Harry Gennett entered into an arrangement whereby this was made available to the promoter and producer Joe Davis, who put out a short race series, the Gennett 5000s; this included reissues and new material. Davis soon discontinued the name Gennett in favor of his own labels, Beacon and Joe Davis, though records were occasionally issued on Gennett in other series for a short period thereafter.
    Note courtesy, Grove Music Online.

    Scope and Content

    The collection is currently being processed. The finding aid will be updated periodically.
    The collection is organized into the following series:
    • Series 1. Work Titles: A's
    • Series 2. Work Titles: B's
    • Series 3. Work Titles: C's
    • Series 4. Work Titles: D's
    • Series 5. Work Titles: E's
    • Series 6. Work Titles: F's
    • Series 7. Work Titles: G's
    • Series 8. Work Titles: H's
    • Series 9. Work Titles: I's
    • Series 10. Work Titles: J's
    • Series 11. Work Titles: K's
    • Series 12. Work Titles: L's
    • Series 13. Work Titles: M's
    • Series 14. Work Titles: N's
    • Series 15. Work Titles: O's
    • Series 16. Work Titles: P's
    • Series 17. Work Titles: Q's
    • Series 18. Work Titles: R's
    • Series 19. Work Titles: S's
    • Series 20. Work Titles: T's
    • Series 21. Work Titles: U's
    • Series 22. Work Titles: V's
    • Series 23. Work Titles: W's
    • Series 24. Work Titles: Y's
    • Series 25. Work Titles: Z
    • Series 26. Unprocessed Recordings