Fellows Learn Jazz and Archives in Institute Program

  • 2017 Institute of Jazz Studies Fellows, from left, Ana Niño, Jeannie Chen and Adam Berkowitz, tour an exhibit at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. Leading them through Harlem jazz history is Ryan Maloney, a former employee of the Institute and director of education and programs at the Museum.

Three archives students from across the country, each with strong musical backgrounds, undertook to learn jazz as a second language as they burnished their archival credentials from the classroom in an intensive two-week program at the Institute of Jazz Studies (IJS) this past June. They were the fifth class of Jazz Archival Fellows, a program underwritten by Jon Van Rens, a longtime IJS supporter and administered until earlier this year by the late Ed Berger, the previous IJS associate director.

The selected candidates who came to Rutgers University-Newark were:

  • Ana Niño, a student at the University of North Texas who works in a Dallas-area library and plays guitar in an all-female rock band.
  • Jeannie Chen, a student at UCLA who has a background in classical piano that propelled her into international piano competition
  • Adam Berkowitz, a MLIS student at University of South Florida in Tampa who is also a professional percussionist interested in jazz and classical music and music educator with a special interest in Jewish musicians and composers.

During their time at IJS, they arranged, described, and produced a finding aid for over 400 taped interviews with jazz musicians and other figures on the jazz scene designated as the Institute of Jazz Studies Collection of Jazz Oral Sound Recordings. Materials in the collection were made between 1956 and 2007 and include mostly audiocassettes and some reel-to-reel tapes.

Field trips afforded the fellows a glimpse of how other area repositories and museums conduct their work. These trips have proven to be one of the more popular features of the fellowship experience, and this year was no exception. The fellows visited the Louis Armstrong House/Archive, the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, the New York Philharmonic Archives, the Carnegie Hall Archives, and the Thomas Edison National Park in West Orange.

In addition, Niño, Chen, and Berkowitz received an overview of issues in managing oral history collections from Dana Library’s digital humanities librarian Krista White. Archivist Elizabeth Surles spoke on rudiments of Encoded Archival Description (EAD), a program utilized to post archival finding aids on the web. IJS archivist Angela Lawrence also worked closely with the students as they processed the interviews.

Jessica Pellien