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From the Stacks: Lloyd H. Smith’s Unique Jazz Library

Title page of Lloyd H. Smith’s copy of Jazzmen, with his extra illustrations.

When Jazzmen, the early study of jazz music edited by Frederic Ramsey Jr. and Charles Edward Smith, was published in 1939, the book’s title page advertised “32 pages of illustrations”. These included photographs showing the major instrumentalists, singers, and bands of the genre’s early years. As seen above, the copy of Ramsey and Smith’s book held at the Amistad Research Center includes more than the standard 32 pages – something we in New Orleans call “lagniappe” or a little something extra.

This copy was part of the gift of jazz-related memorabilia, recordings, and books donated by Helen Smith in 1994. Mrs. Smith was the widow of Lloyd H. Smith, who she described as “a postman by day, and a lover of jazz at night.” The Lloyd H. Smith Collection consists of approximately 580 phonograph jazz recordings by such performers as Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Cab Calloway, Bessie Smith, Charlie Parker, Artie Shaw, Sidney Bechet, Duke Ellington, Pete Fountain, Ella Fitzgerald, Fletcher Henderson, and others. Accompanying the recordings were over forty books on jazz music. A later addition to the collection included various programs and advertisements for jazz concerts and events sponsored by the New Orleans Jazz Club and the famed Preservation Hall, as well as a number of newspaper and magazine clippings on jazz musicians.

Some of those clippings found their way into Smith’s collection of books, pasted in and inserted throughout various titles. Smith’s additions include full articles, pictures of musicians, and other ephemera, making each a truly unique copy. While pasting in these bits of lagniappe may not have been the best for the books in terms of preservation (as evidence by the discoloration from the clippings and glue), they do serve as interesting additions to the books and illustrate Lloyd H. Smith’s passion—that of a devoted jazz fan.

To sample one of Smith’s copies, you can view the Instagram album here.

Images from the Lloyd H. Smith collection. Images from Amistad’s website, newsletters, and blogs cannot be reproduced without permission.

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