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Ms. Coll. 108

Smith, Harrison. Papers regarding copyright ownership of Jelly Roll Morton's songs, 1949-1969: Guide

Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard University, Cambridge MA 02138

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Merritt Room
Call No.: Ms. Coll. 108
Repository: Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Harrison Smith,
Title: Papers regarding copyright ownership of Jelly Roll Morton's songs,
Date(s): 1949-1969
Quantity: 1 collection (1 file box)
Abstract: Correspondence and other papers of jazz concert promoter Harrison Smith, his lawyer, Howard Fischer, and music publishers. Harrison Smith claimed to own copyright to several of American jazz composer and pianist Jelly Roll Morton's songs. The papers deal with Smith's claims of copyright infringement.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

The Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library purchased the collection from Howard Fischer in 2002.

Processing Information:

Processed by Sarah Adams

Conditions Governing Access:

Access to the collection is unrestricted.

Biographical / Historical

Harrison Smith was a jazz concert promoter and booking agent. Jelly Roll Morton hired Smith as a New York partner in a booking agency whose main office was to be in Los Angeles. Accordingly, they shared an office in New York for a brief period during the late 1920s or early 1930s. The partnership was apparently shortlived but was the basis upon which Smith's claims of copyright ownership of 20-30 Morton's compositions were founded. Smith later contested Morton's will over royalties compositions that Smith claimed were either partly or wholly his own; he also issued claims of copyright infringement to numerous music publishers and recording companies. The County of Los Angeles denied Smith's claims on the Morton estate but RCA Victor agreed to pay him royalties on various Morton tunes.

Scope and Contents

The collection contains correspondence from Harrison Smith to his lawyer, Howard Fischer, and to music publishers; correspondence between Fischer and various music publishers; Smith's pre-trial memorandum for his lawsuit against RCA in U.S. District Court; miscellaneous notes.

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