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Moses and Frances Asch Collection

Creator:
Asch, Moses  Search this
Distler, Marian, 1919-1964  Search this
Folkways Records  Search this
Names:
Courlander, Harold, 1908-1996  Search this
Guthrie, Woody, 1912-1967  Search this
Jenkins, Ella  Search this
Leadbelly, 1885-1949  Search this
Ramsey, Frederic, 1915-1995  Search this
Seeger, Pete, 1919-2014  Search this
Extent:
841 Cubic feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Business records
Correspondence
Phonograph records
Photographic prints
Audiotapes
Date:
1926-1986
bulk 1948-1986
Summary:
This collection, which dates from 1926-1986, documents the output of Moses Asch through the various record labels he founded and co-founded, and includes some of his personal papers. The Asch collection includes published recordings, master tapes, outtakes, business records, correspondence, photographs, and film.
Scope and Contents:
The Moses and Frances Asch Collection measures 841 cubic feet and dates from 1926-1987, with some contemporary, relevant correspondence, clippings, and ephemera added after 1987.

Most of the collection consists of audio recordings (commercial 78 rpm and long-playing records, open reel tapes, acetate discs, and test pressings), correspondence with recording artists and producers, artwork, photographs, ephemera, clippings, record production materials, writings, and business papers relating to Folkways Records. Materials relating to Folkways Records can be found primarily in the Correspondence, Folkways Production, Business Records, Photographs, Artwork, Sound Recordings, and Film series.

The collection also contains some biographical materials and personal correspondence, including materials related to Asch's first business, Radio Laboratories, located in the Biographical Materials series. Correspondence, ephemera, photographs, record production materials, business papers, and recordings relating to Asch's record labels before Folkways Records (Asch Recordings, Disc Company of America, Cub Records) are located in the Early Label Materials series as well as the Audio Recordings and Photographs series.
Arrangement note:
The collection is arranged in 10 series:

Series 1: Correspondence, 1942-1987

Series 2: Folkways Production, 1946-1987

Series 3: Business Records, 1940-1987

Series 4: Woody Guthrie papers, 1927-1985

Series 5: Early Label Materials, 1940-1949

Series 6: Biographical Materials, 1926-1987

Series 7: Photographs

Series 8: Artwork

Series 9: Audio Recordings

Series 10: Film

At this time, the collection is partially processed. Please contact rinzlerarchives@si.edu for more information.
Biographical/Historical note:
The son of Yiddish writer Sholem Asch, Moses Asch was born in Poland in 1905. His childhood was spent in Poland, France, Germany, and New York. While young, Asch developed an interest in radio electronics, which ultimately lead him to his life's work, recording the music and sounds of the world. He established several record labels in succession, sometimes partnering with other record companies. Two of his fist record companies, Asch Recordings and DISC Co. of America, went bankrupt. They were followed by his best-known label, Folkways Records, which was founded in 1948 with Marian Distler (1919-1964). He was still working on Folkways recordings when he died in 1986.

Folkways Records sought to document the entire world of sound. The 2,168 titles Asch released on Folkways include traditional and contemporary music from around the world, spoken word in many languages, and documentary recordings of individuals, communities, and current events. Asch's business practices revolved around the commitment to keep every recording issued by Folkways in print, despite low sales. Asch stayed afloat by cutting costs where he could (such as color printing) and offering a high-quality product, meticulously recorded and accompanied by extensive liner notes. In doing this, he could charge a slightly higher price than other commercial outfits. Despite a tenuous relationship with financial solvency, Folkways grew to be not only one of the most important independent record companies in the United States in the 20th century, but also one of the largest and most influential record companies in the world.

Moses Asch's record labels featured famous and lesser known American writers, poets, documentarians, ethnographers, and grass roots musicians on commercial recordings. American folk icon Woody Guthrie recorded on the Asch, Disc, and Folkways labels, and the Asch Collection includes some of his correspondence, lyrics, drawings, and writings. The collection also includes correspondence with other notable musicians and artists such as John Cage, Langston Hughes, Margaret Walker, Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter, Pete Seeger, Peggy Seeger, Ewan MacColl, Alan Lomax, Henry Cowell, and Kenneth Patchen. Also in the collection are ethnographic field notes and photographs by as well as correspondence with Béla Barók, Sidney Robertson Cowell, Harold Courlander, Helen Creighton, Laura Boulton, and Samuel Charters. Asch hired various prominent artists and graphic designers including David Stone Martin, Ben Shahn, John Carlis, and Ronald Clyne to create album cover art for his recordings. Much of the original art and designs for these covers can be found in the Asch Collection.

Asch's output of recordings on various labels, including published recordings, open reel master tapes, outtakes, and acetate disks, in addition to his business papers, correspondence, photographs, and other files were acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987. The collection came to the Smithsonian with the understanding that all 2168 titles under the Folkways label would be kept available in perpetuity.
Provenance:
Ralph Rinzler arranged the Smithsonian's acquisition of the Moses and Frances Asch Collection in 1987, beginning with Asch before his death in 1986 and continuing with extensive discussions between Rinzler and the Asch family. Since its acquisition, archivist Jeff Place and others have added contemporary, relevant correspondence with Folkways artists and related individuals.
Restrictions:
Access by appointment only. Contact the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections at rinzlerarchives@si.edu or (202) 633-7322 for additional information.
Rights:
Copyright restrictions apply. Contact archives staff for additional information.
Topic:
Folk music  Search this
Folk dance music  Search this
Electronic music  Search this
Oral interpretation of poetry  Search this
Oral interpretation of fiction  Search this
Music -- 20th century  Search this
Music -- 19th century  Search this
Music -- 18th century  Search this
Jazz  Search this
Folk music -- United States  Search this
World music  Search this
Sounds  Search this
Vocal music  Search this
Popular music -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Genre/Form:
Business records
Correspondence
Phonograph records
Photographic prints
Audiotapes
Citation:
Moses and Frances Asch Collection, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
CFCH.ASCH
See more items in:
Moses and Frances Asch Collection
Archival Repository:
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-cfch-asch
Additional Online Media:

Smithsonian Center for Archives Conservation (SCAC) Advisory Committee, 2002-2004

Collection Creator:
Smithsonian Institution, Archives, Office of the Director  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Collection Citation:
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Accession 05-091, Smithsonian Institution, Archives, Office of the Director, Committee and Council Records
See more items in:
Committee and Council Records
Archival Repository:
Smithsonian Institution Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-sia-fa05-091-refd1e257

Smithsonian Center for Archives Conservation - Smithsonian Center for Archives Conservation, 8/25/2011, 3/8/2012

Collection Creator:
Smithsonian Institution  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Collection Citation:
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Accession 13-108, Smithsonian Institution, Website Records
See more items in:
Website Records
Archival Repository:
Smithsonian Institution Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-sia-fa13-108-refd1e950

Smithsonian Center for Archives Conservation, Smithsonian Institution, captured October 30, 2015

Collection Creator::
Smithsonian Institution  Search this
Container:
Electronic Records
Type:
Archival materials
Collection Citation:
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Accession 17-201, Smithsonian Institution, Website Records
See more items in:
Website Records
Archival Repository:
Smithsonian Institution Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-sia-fa17-201-refidd1e505

Website Records, 2008-2011

Creator:
Smithsonian Institution  Search this
Uniform title:
Facebook (Electronic resource)  Search this
Subject:
Anacostia Community Museum  Search this
Archives of American Art  Search this
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (Smithsonian Institution)  Search this
Chandra X-ray Center (U.S.)  Search this
Freer Gallery of Art  Search this
Friends of the National Zoo (U.S.)  Search this
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden  Search this
Lemelson Center  Search this
Museum Conservation Institute  Search this
National Anthropological Archives  Search this
National Museum of African American History and Culture (U.S.)  Search this
National Museum of African Art (U.S.)  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.)  Search this
National Museum of Natural History (U.S.)  Search this
National Museum of the American Indian (U.S.) Film and Video Center  Search this
National Museum of the American Indian (U.S.) George Gustav Heye Center  Search this
National Museum of the American Indian (U.S.)  Search this
National Portrait Gallery (Smithsonian Institution)  Search this
National Postal Museum (U.S.)  Search this
National Zoological Park (U.S.)  Search this
Smithsonian Affiliations (Program)  Search this
Smithsonian American Art Museum  Search this
Smithsonian Associates  Search this
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory  Search this
Smithsonian Books (Publisher)  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Archives  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Global Volcanism Program  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Libraries  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Office of Public Affairs  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service  Search this
Smithsonian Latino Center  Search this
Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center  Search this
Smithsonian Resident Associate Program  Search this
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute  Search this
Smithsonian/Folkways Recordings  Search this
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center  Search this
Air and Space Magazine  Search this
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum  Search this
Encyclopedia of Life  Search this
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery  Search this
National Air and Space Museum (U.S.)  Search this
National Museum of Natural History (U.S.) Hall of Human Origins  Search this
National Museum of Natural History (U.S.) Ocean Portal  Search this
National Museum of Natural History (U.S.) Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce  Search this
National Portrait Gallery (U.S.) Catalog of American Portraits  Search this
Smithsonian American Art Museum Luce Foundation Center for American Art  Search this
Smithsonian American Art Museum Lunder Conservation Center  Search this
Smithsonian Associates Art Collectors Program  Search this
Smithsonian Associates Jazz Café  Search this
Smithsonian Associates Studio Arts Program  Search this
Smithsonian Associates Young Benefactors of the Smithsonian Institution  Search this
Smithsonian Center for Archives Conservation  Search this
Smithsonian Channel  Search this
Smithsonian Enterprises  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Asian Pacific American Program  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Office of Architectural History and Historic Preservation  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Office of Development Smithsonian Women's Committee  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Office of Exhibits Central  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Office of Human Resources  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Smithsonian Enterprises Smithsonian Journeys  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service Museum on Main Street  Search this
Smithsonian Magazine  Search this
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Bocas del Toro Research Station  Search this
Type:
Electronic records
Collection descriptions
Date:
2008
2008-2011
Topic:
Museums--Public relations  Search this
Online social networks  Search this
Social media  Search this
Web sites  Search this
Local number:
SIA Acc. 11-091
See more items in:
Website Records 1995-2017 [Smithsonian Institution]
Data Source:
Smithsonian Institution Archives
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_305149

Website Records, 2009-2012

Creator:
Smithsonian Institution  Search this
Uniform title:
Facebook (Electronic resource)  Search this
Subject:
Smithsonian American Art Museum  Search this
Smithsonian American Art Museum Lunder Conservation Center  Search this
Smithsonian American Art Museum Luce Foundation for American Art  Search this
Anacostia Community Museum  Search this
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (Smithsonian Institution)  Search this
Chandra X-ray Center (U.S.)  Search this
Freer Gallery of Art  Search this
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden  Search this
Lemelson Center  Search this
Museum Conservation Institute  Search this
National Anthropological Archives  Search this
National Museum of African American History and Culture (U.S.)  Search this
National Museum of African Art (U.S.)  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.)  Search this
National Museum of Natural History (U.S.)  Search this
National Museum of the American Indian (U.S.) George Gustav Heye Center  Search this
National Museum of the American Indian (U.S.)  Search this
National Portrait Gallery (Smithsonian Institution)  Search this
National Postal Museum (U.S.)  Search this
National Zoological Park (U.S.)  Search this
Smithsonian Affiliations (Program)  Search this
Smithsonian Associates  Search this
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory  Search this
Smithsonian Books (Publisher)  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Archives  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Global Volcanism Program  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Libraries  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Office of Public Affairs  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service  Search this
Smithsonian Latino Center  Search this
Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center  Search this
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute  Search this
Smithsonian/Folkways Recordings  Search this
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center  Search this
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum  Search this
Encyclopedia of Life  Search this
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery  Search this
National Air and Space Museum (U.S.)  Search this
National Museum of Natural History (U.S.) Human Origins Program  Search this
National Museum of Natural History (U.S.) Ocean Portal  Search this
National Museum of Natural History (U.S.) Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce  Search this
National Portrait Gallery (U.S.) Catalog of American Portraits  Search this
Smithsonian Associates Art Collectors Program  Search this
Smithsonian Associates Jazz Café  Search this
Smithsonian Associates Studio Arts Program  Search this
Smithsonian Center for Archives Conservation  Search this
Smithsonian Channel  Search this
Smithsonian Enterprises  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Asian Pacific American Program  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Office of Architectural History and Historic Preservation  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Office of Advancement Smithsonian Women's Committee  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Smithsonian Enterprises Smithsonian Journeys  Search this
Smithsonian Magazine  Search this
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Bocas del Toro Research Station  Search this
Archives of American Art  Search this
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden ArtLab+  Search this
O. Orkin Insect Zoo  Search this
Arctic Studies Center (National Museum of Natural History)  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Office of Fellowships and Internships  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Office of Human Resources  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Office of the Chief Information Officer  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Accessibility Program  Search this
Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies  Search this
Biodiversity Heritage Library Consortium  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Libraries Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Branch  Search this
Smithsonian Institution Libraries National Museum of African Art Branch  Search this
Smithsonian Associates Discovery Theater  Search this
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center  Search this
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Galeta Point Marine Laboratory  Search this
Smithsonian Folklife Festival  Search this
Type:
Electronic records
Collection descriptions
Date:
2009
2009-2012
Topic:
Museums--Public relations  Search this
Online social networks  Search this
Social media  Search this
Web sites  Search this
Local number:
SIA Acc. 13-108
See more items in:
Website Records 1995-2017 [Smithsonian Institution]
Data Source:
Smithsonian Institution Archives
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_361849

Ask an Archivist: Bring Your Questions Thursday, October 22

Creator:
Smithsonian Institution Archives  Search this
Type:
Blog posts
Smithsonian staff publications
Blog posts
Published Date:
Thu, 15 Oct 2015 11:00:00 +0000
Topic:
Archive  Search this
See more posts:
The Bigger Picture | Smithsonian Institution Archives
Data Source:
Smithsonian Institution Archives
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:posts_204188b244f2474180696f37e0c9d822

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