Home > Departments > Library

 

Tom Harris Papers

Biography

Thomas (Tom) N. Harris was born on April 22, 1930 in Chicago, Illinois. While growing up in Chicago he developed a love for boogie woogie music and with the help of a friend, taught himself to play boogie woogie music on the piano.

Tom attended Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, and there he met Charlie Castner, a fellow boogie woogie fan and musician. They formed a boogie woogie duo and recorded music together in the late 1940s through the mid-1950s.

Tom and Charlie remained friends but pursued different paths after graduation. Tom worked as a buyer of consumer electronics for Radio Shack in Fort Worth, Texas until he retired in 1994. In 1961, he married Lynn Coonley Gould, and they had two daughters. Tom’s passion for boogie woogie music never waned, and he and his wife hosted an annual piano party for 34 years that was attended by musicians, friends, and fans. He passed away on March 30, 2009, in Fort Worth, following a two-year battle with lymphoma.

Source:

  • Chicago Tribune, April 5, 2009. Ancestory.com. United States Obituary Collection.

Provenance

The materials were donated to the Library by Lynn G. Harris on May 25, 2010

Scope and Contents Note

The collection consists of vinyl records, audio recordings on tape reels, trade publications, reference materials, articles, programs, and letters that document boogie-woogie and jazz music. The materials date from 1938 - 1991 and measure 14 linear feet (60 boxes). The collection is arranged into 6 series.

  • Series I : Record Lists and Reference Materials (1946 - 1975) - Contains record lists, indexes, and a guide to dating records. These materials aided jazz collectors in building and cataloging their record collections. Harris’ own record list is included in this series as well.
  • Series II : Trade Publications (1939 - 1991) - Consists of a number of magazines devoted to jazz music. The series is mostly comprised of issues of Metronome, (The) Record Changer, and Down Beat from the late 1930s through the late 1940s/early 50s.
  • Series III : Printed Materials (1938 - 1986) - Comprised of event programs, articles, notes, and an illustrated history of jazz.
  • Series IV : Vinyl Records (1946 - 1988) - Contains over 300 records and albums. The majority of the records were not dated. Included in the collection are record sets of prominent artists, Harris and Castner recordings, and the twelve volume set, History of Jazz. A few of the records are broken or cracked and many of the album sets are in fragile condition. The board covers have often separated from the album and pages of the albums are no longer connected to the spine.
  • Series V : Audio Tape Reels (1959 - 1988) - Contains 33 audio tape reels with recordings primarily of KERA broadcasts.
  • Series VI : Letters (1971 - 1976) - The series is made up of two letters. One is a personal letter written to the Mr. Harris and his wife and the other is a letter concerning Radio Shack.

Return to Archival Collections

Last updated: Oct. 20, 2014