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A Private Collector

Fortunately, there were some farsighted individuals that recognized the importance of preserving this literature. Until the 1960s, the “systematic acquisition of [jazz periodicals] … was the province of a handful of private collectors … rather than of academic institutions and libraries.”¹ 

The single most important collector of jazz periodicals was Harold Flakser.

Flakser is a veteran jazz researcher and recognized authority on the history of jazz periodicals who can recite the details of the publishing history of each of the hundreds of titles in his collection…

Born February 19, 1925 in Brooklyn, N. Y., Flakser has been a serious jazz collector for more than 45 years. He started collecting in 1939 when he discovered recordings by the Quintette of the Hot Club of France… Using Delaunay’s Hot Discography as a guide, Flakser concentrated on acquiring the Swing recordings soon branching out to more obscure European labels that recorded jazz during the period between the two World Wars. …

The periodicals, which form the pièce de résistance of the Flakser collection, were originally an adjunct to his record-collecting activities, but soon became the main emphasis. A great deal of material was acquired through trading with other collectors, though some was purchased. …

Flakser’s Brooklyn apartment soon became a mecca for international jazz researchers, as it contained treasures not available anywhere else. The list of scholars, authors and musicians who visited Flakser is long and distinguished …²

On 20 October 1986 the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University (IJS) acquired the Flakser collection which contains “the most extensive collection of jazz periodicals anywhere, including national libraries of the European countries … The more than 300 titles include many rare, one-of-a-kind items, dating from the 1920s to the present…”³

In 2014 RIPM and the Institute of Jazz Studies signed an Agreement that permits RIPM to scan selected journals in this collection. In addition, through RIPM’s Partner and Participating Library Program, RIPM has access to journals in a number of other important collections including that of the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, Yale University and Oberlin College—all holding material that complements the IJS collection.

¹ Vincent Pelote, “The Harold Flakser Collection,” The Journal of Rutgers University Libraries, 49/2, p. 100.
² Vincent Pelote, “The Institute of Jazz Studies,” Fontes Artis Musicae, Vol. 36, No. 3 (July – September 1989), pp. 177-180. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23507401
³ Ibid.