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OVERVIEW OF THE COLLECTION

Title: Claude Williams Papers

Collection Date(s): circa 1920-2005

Extent and Forms of Material: 4.66 cubic feet, including photographs and audio recordings (14 boxes, 1 oversize folder, 1 CD, 13 audiocassette tapes)

Creator: Claude and Blanche Y. Fouse Williams

Abstract: Business and personal papers, photographs, and audio recordings of Claude “Fiddler” Williams, an award-winning jazz fiddler. Although Williams played music for almost a century the materials in this collection date largely from 1970 to 2005.

Repository: Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. archivescenter@si.edu 202-633-3270
www.americanhistory.si.edu/archives

Collection Number: AC0909

Processing Note: Processed by Meghan Lyon (intern), February 2007, Tiffany Draut (intern), 2008, Adrienne Cain (intern), 2008; supervised by Vanessa Broussard Simmons, archivist, 2008.

INFORMATION FOR USERS OF THE COLLECTION

Conditions Governing Access: The collection is open for research use.

Physical Access: Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves. Researchers must use reference copies of audio-visual materials. When no reference copy exists, the Archives Center staff will produce reference copies on an “as needed” basis, as resources allow.

Technical Access: Do not use original materials when available on reference audio tapes.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use: Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Reproduction permission from Archives Center: fees for commercial use. All duplication requests must be reviewed and approved by Archives Center staff.

Preferred Citation: Title and date of item, Claude Williams Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, box number X, folder number XX, digital file number XXXXXXXX

IN-DEPTH INFORMATION ABOUT THE COLLECTION

Biographical History: Claude “Fiddler” Williams, 1908-2004, was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, the son of a blacksmith. His musical gifts developed at a very early age, and he quickly became adept at the guitar, banjo, mandolin and cello, learning mostly by ear, without formal training. After hearing the jazz violinist Joe Venuti, the violin became his instrument of choice, and it remained so for the rest of his life. He migrated to Kansas City in 1927 and toured with several territory bands. Additionally Williams toured with the Twelve Clouds of Joy and the Cole Brothers, and in 1936, joined Count Basie’s band as the first guitarist. After he was fired from Count Basie’s band because John Hammond thought Williams’s guitar solos were taking too much attention away from Basie, he went back to the violin (or “fiddle” as he preferred to call it) and focused exclusively on it for the rest of his life. Later he started his own band and toured with several jazz groups working for a short time with the Works Progress Administration (WPA). His band appeared at the Monterey Jazz Festival, the Nice Jazz Festival, and the Smithsonian Institution’s Festival of American Folk Life. Williams received numerous honors and awards, including induction into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, a proclamation from the city of Kansas City, and a 1998 National Heritage Fellowship which included a $10,000 award. President Bill Clinton invited him to perform at one of the parties celebrating his first inauguration. Williams continued to tour and perform until well into his nineties. He also gave instruction at Mark O’Connor’s annual fiddle camp to young violinists. Mr. Williams died in April 2004.

Scope and Content: This collection documents the later life and career of jazz violinist Claude "Fiddler" Williams. Materials include correspondence, photographs, unpublished writings, awards, business records, financial records, programs and a few music manuscripts. There is one scrapbook and several audio recordings. There are also an autographed poster from 1997 honoring five inductees to the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, including Claude Williams, Merle Haggard, Patti Page, Woody Guthrie and Eddie Burris. While there are some materials from Williams’s youth, the vast majority of the collection dates from 1970. Williams’s second wife, Blanche Y. Fouse-Williams, was vigilant about saving his papers. She also managed his career for the last few years of his life. This accounts for the increased volume of materials documenting his later years. Materials generally are arranged in chronological order within series and subseries.

Series 1, Business Records, 1973-2005,undated, is divided into seven subseries and includes business records, information relating to tours and performances, awards and certificates, business and personal correspondence, financial papers, articles and newspaper clippings, and biographical information.

Subseries 1, Events, 1977-2004, undated, includes contracts, copies of newspaper clippings, performance programs, brochures, ticket stubs, travel itineraries, travel receipts, correspondence, materials regarding his work as a fiddle teacher, advertisements for performances, a certificate of recognition, and napkins saved from a Washington Education Television Association (WETA) performance at the White House in 1998. Materials are arranged in chronological order.

Subseries 2, Itineraries, 1990-2001, includeslists and correspondence detailing locations, musicians, travel and lodging plans, and financial compensation for William’s performances. Materials are arranged in chronological order.

Subseries 3, Awards and Certificates, 1978-2002, contains awards and certificates of appreciation from the Steamboat Delta Queen, Annual Black Musicians Conference, Kansas City Chapter of the International Association of Jazz Record Collectors, and the Manhattan School of Music, as well as an invitation to a reception honoring Kansas City Jazz musicians from the Consul General of Japan. Materials are arranged in chronological order.

Subseries 4, Correspondence, 1975-2004, consists ofinformation relating to travel arrangements, tours, remuneration, music recordings, press kits, contracts, public television performances, involvement with the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as Williams’s Smithsonian Folkways recording. Materials are arranged in chronological order.

Subseries 5, Financial Papers, 1990-2005, includes information about travel and payment, hotel bills and receipts, invoices for performances, music recordings sales, royalty statements and copies of checks. Materials are arranged in chronological order.

Subseries 6, Press, 1973–2005, undated, includes magazines, newspaper clippings and articles, about Williams’s performances and music, appearances and jazz festivals, as well as the Kansas City Jazz scene. Magazine titles include Kansas City Magazine, Missouri Alumnus, The Masters Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program, Jazz Ambassador Magazine, Kansas City Ambassador to Jazz, The Mississippi Rag, Fiddler Magazine, Jazz News, Jazz Times, Living Blues, Blues Access, and Kansas City. Materials are arranged by type and then in chronological order.

Subseries 7, Music, 1989-1995, undated, contains thirteen audio tape recordings, one CD, sheet music and set lists of music performed by Williams. There is an audio recording of Black and Blue: A Musical Revue, a Folk Master performance at Carnegie Hall. Williams’s work with James Chirillo, an appearance on Birdflight, as well as recordings of live and studio performances are also included among these materials. There is a copy of Williams’s CD Swingtime in New York and an interview from1992. Materials are arranged in chronological order.

Series 2, Personal Papers, 1978–2005, undated, is divided into two subseries and contains letters, cards, postcards, invitations, copies of email, and requests for information and interviews. Most of the correspondence was addressed to Williams but there are materials that were sent to Blanche Williams. The correspondence is generally from fans, friends and family.

Subseries 1, Correspondence, 1978-2005, undated, consists of birthday cards from school age children, postcards, copies of newspaper clippings, White House and other government correspondence, congratulations or birthday wishes, as well as personal correspondence from friends inquiring about Williams’s health and well-being. Also included is a draft for a chapter in a book on Claude Williams’s contributions to jazz. Requests relating to research about Williams are also included. Materials are arranged in chronological order. Materials are arranged first by type followed by general correspondence in chronological order.

Subseries 2, Miscellaneous, undated, containsephemera, autographs, affiliates list, well-wishes to Blanche Williams, a funeral program, mailing lists, lists of affiliated organizations, and a Count Bassie autograph.

Series 3, Photographs, 1977-2004, undated, includespersonal and professional photographic prints and negatives of Williams. Subjects include performances and festivals, headshots and publicity, images of other musicians, family, friends, and posters with photographs created for his funeral. The majority of these photographs are of performances. Materials are arranged by subject.

System of Arrangement: This collection is arranged into three series:

Series 1, Business Records, 1973-2005, undated
Subseries 1, Events, 1977-2004, undated
Subseries 2, Itineraries, 1990-2001
Subseries 3, Awards and Certificates, 1978-2002
Subseries 4, Correspondence, 1975-2004
Subseries 5, Financial Papers, 1990-2005
Subseries 6, Press, 1973-2005, undated
Subseries 7, Music; 1989-1995, undated
Series 2, Personal Papers, 1978-2005, undated
Subseries 1, Correspondence, 1978-2005, undated
Subseries 2, Miscellaneous, undated
Series 3, Photographs, 1977-2004, undated

Languages:Some contracts are in French.

Acquisition Information: This collection was donated by Claude Williams’s widow, Blanche Y. Fouse-Williams, in 2005.

Related Artifacts: Artifacts donated to the Museum’s Division of Music, Sports, and Entertainment include a suit and violin Accession numbers: 2005.3105 and 2007.3020.

Access Points:

Subject/Names:
Williams, Claude
Basie, Count
Chirillo, James
Clinton, William J. (William Jefferson)
Clinton, Hillary Rodham
Cole, Nat King
Hicks, Bryan
McShann, Jay
O’Connor, Mark
Prince, Gayland
Venuti, Joe
Schaap, Phil
Smith, Frank
Statesmen of Jazz
Twelve Clouds of Joy (Musical group)

Subject/Topical:
African American musicians
Big band
Family Partnership
Fiddling
Fiddle tunes
Jazz
Jazz -- 1920-2000
Jazz --1981-2004 -- Sound Recordings
Jazz at the Smithsonian
Jazz bands
Jazz festivals
Jazz Fiddlers
Jazz Guitar
Jazz musicians -- United States
Jazz – Periodicals
Kansas City ( Mo.)
Longevity
Music -- 20 th century -- United States
Music festivals
Musicians -- United States
Swing (Music)
Violinists

Forms/Genre:
Articles
Audiotapes
Awards
Business records -- 20 th century
Financial records
Letters (correspondence) -- 20 th century
Manuscripts -- Music--20 th century
Photographs -- 20 th century
Photographs -- 2000-2010
Posters --1950-2000
Programs
Scrapbooks

CONTAINER LISTING

Box

Folder

 
   

Series 1, Business Records, 1973-2005, undated

   

Subseries 1, Events, 1977-2004, undated

1

1

1977-1979

13

1

1979-1989

1

2

1980–1981 April

 

3

1981 May–1984

 

4

1985–1987

 

5

1988–1989

 

6

1990–1991

 

7

1992–1993

 

8

America’s Reunion on the Mall, 1993 January

2

1

1994

 

2

1995 January–1995 June

 

3

1995 July

 

4

1995 August –1995 September

 

5

1995 October–1996 April

 

6

1996 May–1996 December

 

7

1997

 

8

Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame Induction, 1997 April

3

1

1998–1999

 

2

Washington Education Television Association (WETA) performance at the White House, 1998

 

3

National Heritage Fellowship, 1998

 

4

National Heritage Fellowship, 1998

13

3

Ninety Birthday Celebration, 1998 February

3

5

Charlie Parker Symposium, 1999

 

6

Topeka Jazz Festival, 1999

 

7

First Night, Columbia, 1999 December 31–2000 January 1

 

8

2000 January–2000 May

4

1

2000 June–2000August

 

2

2000 September–2000 December

 

3

Kansas City Blues and Jazz Festival, 2000

13

2

1990–2000

4

4

2001 January–2001 June

 

5

Ford Detroit International Jazz Festival, 2001

 

6

Indiana Fiddler’s Gathering Incorporated, 2001

 

7

Lincoln Center, A Midsummer Night’s Swing, 2001

 

8

2001 July–2001 September

5

1

2001 October–2002 August

 

2

2002 September–2003 July

 

3

2003 August–2003 September

 

4

Funeral and memorials, 2004

 

5

Ephemera, undated

13

4

Undated materials

9

7

Information about postponed or canceled performances, 1996-1998, undated

 

8

Miscellaneous papers, notes, and ephemera, 1979, 1990, 1994, 1995, undated

   

Subseries 2, Itineraries, 1990-2001

5

6

1990 – 1997

 

7

1998 – 2001

   

Subseries 3, Awards and Certificates, 1978–2002

 

8

1978–2002

   

Subseries 4, Correspondence, 1975–2004

 

9

1975–1989

 

10

1990–1994

6

1

1995–1999

 

2

2000–2002

 

3

2003–2004

   

Subseries 5, Financial Papers, 1990s–2005

 

4

1990s

 

5

2000–2005

   

Subseries 6, Press, 1973–2005, undated

 

6

Jazz Magazines, 1981–1991

 

7

Jazz Magazines, 1992–1996

7

1

Jazz Magazines, 1997–1999

 

2

Jazz Magazines, 2000–2005

9

5

Newspaper clippings and articles, 1973–1984

 

6

Newspaper clippings and articles, 1985–1989

7

3

Newspaper clippings and articles, 1990–1998

 

4

Newspaper clippings and articles, 1999–2002

 

5

Newspaper clippings and articles, 2003–2004

9

9

Newspaper clippings and articles, undated

7

6

Press releases, press kits, and related items, 1979–1998

   

Subseries 7, Music, 1989–1995, undated

12

1

Black and Blue, musical revue recorded in New York, 1989 November and 1989 December

 

2

Folk Masters at Carnegie Hall, 1990 December 11

 

3

Duet with James Chirillo including interviews and advertisement, Zoo Bar, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1991 November

 

4

Interview for the public radio production George Morrison: Colorado Jazz Pioneer, 1992 April 20

 

5

Live recording with Frank Smith, Byran Hicks and Gayland Prince, Zoo Bar, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1992 May 29

 

6

Live recording with Frank Smith, Byran Hicks and Gayland Prince, Zoo Bar, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1992 May 29

 

7

Live recording with Frank Smith, Byran Hicks and Gayland Prince, Zoo Bar, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1992 May 30

 

8

Studio recording, tape one, 1994 September 5

 

9

Studio recording, tape two, 1994 September 5

 

10

Recording with Phil Schaap, Birdflight Radio Show, WKCR, 1994 September 8

 

11

Fiddle camp sessions, 1995 June

9

10

Swing Time in New York, 1995

12

12

Recording with Warren Chaisson, Dmitry Shapko and Gail Allen, undated

 

13

Recording of various songs, undated

7

7

Set and song lists, undated

 

8

Sheet music, undated

   

Series 2, Personal Papers, 1978–2005, undated

   

Subseries 1, Correspondence, 1978–2005, undated

14

1

Christmas card from Blanche Y. Fouse-Williams,1979

8

1

Fan mail, 2001 – 2002

 

2

Greeting cards from elementary school children,1997

 

3-4

Thank you cards from junior high school children, 1997

 

5

1978–1997

 

6

1998

 

7

1999

 

8

1999

9

1

2000–2001

 

2

2002–2005

 

3

Undated

   

Subseries 2, Miscellaneous, undated

9

4

Ephemera and list of affiliates

   

Series 3, Photographs 1920–2004, undated

10

1

Events and performances, 1977–2004

11

3

Events and performances, 1990–2003

13

5

Events and performances, 2004 May 2

11

4

Events and performances, undated

10

2

Events and performances, undated

11

6

Photographs of family and friends, 1990

 

7

Photographs of unidentified people, 1920, 1978, 2000, 2002, undated

10

2

Publicity photographs, undated

11

5

Publicity photographs of other musicians, undated

11

1

Negatives, undated

 

O/S 1

Posters with photographs created for funeral, 2004

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Revised: January 28, 2009