Category: Isham Memorial Library (page 3 of 15)

Happy Birthday, Clara!

September 13th was Clara Schumann’s 200th birthday. To pay homage to the composer and pianist we are highlighting a photograph we have in our collection. This photo is a carte-de-visite, a thin paper portrait mounted on a thicker paper board.

Carte-de-visite of Clara Schumann

Carte-de-visite of Clara Schumann, taken by Fritz Luckhardt.


The photographer was Fritz Luckhardt, an Austrian whose studio was at the Hotel National in Vienna, as indicated on the back of the photograph. His studio is discussed in detail in the book The Photographic Studios of Europe. Famous authors and musicians were his specialty, as demonstrated by the large number of cartes-de-visite from his studio found in libraries and archives. In 1870 he was awarded the Imperial Title of K.K. Photographer (K.K. stands for kaiserlich-königlich meaning imperial-royal), therefore this photograph was produced after that title was awarded.

Verso of the cartes-de-visite.

Verso of the carte-de-visite of Clara Schumann.

The name of the Munich photographer Ferd. Finsterlin is impressed on the lower left of the photograph. The relationship between the two photographers is unknown to us. It’s possible this carte-de-visite was collected by Ferdinand Finsterlin in a similar fashion to a calling card and he stamped his ownership on the item.

Thanks to Joanne Bloom, Photographic Resources Librarian at the Fine Arts Library, Harvard University, for assistance in researching this photograph.

Pritchard, H. Baden. The Photographic Studios of Europe. The Literature of Photography. New York: Arno Press, 1973.

A Dive into a Jazz Contract

Jazz connoisseurs are familiar with things being branded “blue note.” There’s the Blue Note in New York City with chains in Japan, China, and the U.S., Blue Note Records, the Blue Note Jazz Festival, The Blue Note in Chicago (now closed), to name a few. Another prominent jazz club with the popular name was in Philadelphia, and Harvard is fortunate to have a selection of their musician contracts from 1949-1957, with the bulk of the contracts concentrated in 1956.

Represented in the collection are jazz contracts from well-known musicians Cannonball Adderley, Louis Armstrong, The Australian Jazz Quintet, Count Basie, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, The Modern Jazz Quartet and several others. The most frequent signatures on the contracts are Jack Fields, owner of the Blue Note in the early 1950s, also known by his given name Irvin Rosenfeld as described in his obituary, and Lou Church, co-owner with Bob Pesselo, who began signing the contracts we have in hand starting in June 1956.

Miles Davis signature on contract

Lou Church and Miles Davis signatures on contract for performances from Dec. 3-8, 1956. Ms. Coll. 119

From December 3rd to the 8th, the Miles Davis Quintet began a two month series of engagements, starting in Philadelphia. The group featured Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones.

Miles Davis contract for December 3 through 8, 1956.

Contract for Miles Davis performance at the Blue Note in Philadelphia. Ms. Coll. 119

On Saturday, December 8th, the set was featured on Bandstand, U.S.A., with audio available on YouTube. On this night the club was raided by police, as described in the African-American newspaper The Philadelphia Tribune. Lou Church is quoted as saying, “Police squads armed with shotguns enter the Blue Note frequently and frisk customers in hopes of embarrassing them into not coming to the club again.”

Headline from Philadelphia Tribune "Police Harass 400 At Blue Note; Deny Drive on White-Tan Lovers"

Philadelphia Tribune clipping

Clippings from the Philadelphia Tribune, Dec. 11, 1956.

The Collection of Jazz Contracts, 1949-1957 (Ms. Coll. 119) is located in the Isham Memorial Library, adjunct to the Loeb Music Library. There’re a lot of connections to be made about the life and history of the musicians and the Blue Note Club of Philadelphia in the collection of contracts. The collection can be viewed by appointment.


Chambers, Jack. Milestones I: The Music and Times of Miles Davis to 1960. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1983.

“Police Harass 400 at Blue Note; Deny Drive on White-Tan Lovers.” Philadelphia Tribune, Dec. 11, 1956.

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