CU-Boulder's Glenn Miller Archive Receives Major Gift Including Seldom-Heard Music
May 1, 2007
The University of Colorado at Boulder's extensive and well-known archive of 1930s and 1940s big band-era great Glenn Miller just got better with the addition of a major collection of artifacts from the estate of the late Richard C. March.
A longtime member of the Glenn Miller Society in England, March's collection includes numerous reels of Miller recordings, as well as books, manuscripts, records, photographs and posters of the famed musician. March died in November 2005.
"It is a magnificent collection," said Alan Cass, founder and longtime curator of the American Music Research Center's Glenn Miller Archive on the CU-Boulder campus. "It is one of the finest, personal, private collections in the world, and Mr. March was also a producer of recordings of big bands and, in particular, Glenn Miller in England."
The collection arrived at CU-Boulder this spring from England in two crates, each weighing 1,800 pounds.
"It is with great pride that the March family has donated his extensive collection to the Glenn Miller Archive," said Patricia March, the wife of Richard March. "May it enrich those that wish to study, but most of all, enjoy it.
"I am sure that Richard would be very proud that his treasured collection is to be housed in such a prestigious institution as the University of Colorado where future generations can both access and appreciate it," she said. "I, my daughter Ann and my son Alan hope that it will bring great pleasure to many."
One of the highlights of the newly acquired collection is the radio broadcasts, according to Cass.
"Miller recorded many of his radio broadcasts, and the collection contains some uncirculated material," Cass said.
The Miller archive at CU-Boulder came about by chance in 1969 when Cass, who is distantly related to Miller as a second cousin of his late wife Helen, asked the campus alumni magazine to run a short story about the new archive. The hope was to have people who went to school with Miller donate their memorabilia.
"Little did we know at the time but one of our alumni that received the magazine was a staff writer for United Press International," Cass said. "They didn't contact us but the next thing we knew they had run a story worldwide on the UPI wire and things started to arrive for the collection.
"It was a very humbling experience. I would receive maybe a tattered photograph from a fellow who said he had taken this picture at the Miller Army Air Force band in England just before he shipped out," he said. "And it had meant so much to him that he had saved it through all these years and felt that this was a good place to add this memento because he thought that it helped him get through the war experience."
Today the university is home to one of the most extensive Glenn Miller archives anywhere in the world, and is recognized by the Miller family as a repository. The only archive that is close in size and content is the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, which focuses on Miller's military life, according to Cass.
What was once a small display case in a corner of the University Memorial Center now includes the first Gold Record ever given to a recording artist to signify the sale of over one million records, two of his four trombones known to exist today, all of his studio recordings and thousands of photographs, posters and letters.
The collection also includes material from other big bands including Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, the Dorsey Brothers, Artie Shaw, Shep Fields, Count Basie and Harry James.
"We have artifacts that are museum quality, but we like to think of ourselves as an archive and research facility as well," Cass said.
Miller attended CU-Boulder in 1923, and though he did not graduate, he and his wife Helen, a CU alumna, always thought of Boulder and CU as home, according to Cass.
"They had a real love affair with the university over those many years," he said.
For more information about the Glenn Miller Archive on campus view and listen to the image-enhanced podcast on the CU-Boulder News Center Web site at www.colorado.edu/news/podcasts/
Contact: Alan Cass, (303) 492-5317
Greg Swenson, (303) 492-3113