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Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts records


Held at: Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts [Contact Us]738 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

The Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts was founded in 1966 as the social club of Union Local No. 274 of the American Federation of Musicians. Founded in 1935, Local No. 274 was Philadelphia’s Black musicians union. At a time when the city’s Black musicians struggled for political, economic and cultural recognition, Local No. 274 gave them representation and broke a tradition of segregation. With members such John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Jimmy Smith, Lee Morgan, “Philly Joe Jones,” Grover Washington Jr., the Heath Brothers, Nina Simone, and Butch Ballard, Local No. 274 was crucial to the growth of a thriving jazz scene in Philadelphia. When it dissolved in 1971, Local No. 274 was the last independent Black musicians union in the United States.

The Clef Club was founded by James Adams and members of Local No. 274 as the Local’s social club. Renowned musicians traveled to Philadelphia to visit the Clef Club; it was not unusual to see Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Art Blakey, Dinah Washington, Max Roach and others exchanging jazz ideas in the hallways of the club. The Clef Club eventually became a haven for jazz lovers, who would pack the club on weekends and watch celebrities as they made their flashy entrances. The Club became so popular that it created a “B” membership for jazz lovers and out-of-town musicians. In 1970 it was relocated from 912 South Broad Street to 114 South 13th Street. The Clef Club continued to function as a social club until 1978, when it expanded its activities to include jazz performance, jazz instruction, and the preservation of Philadelphia’s rich jazz history. In 1995, the Clef Club established a new facility on the corner of Broad and Fitzwater Streets that houses classrooms, a performance space, recording facilities, and executive offices. Now known as The Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts, the Clef Club is a unique artist-founded and artist-run cultural organization that provides lessons, concerts, cultural events and services to musicians and is committed to the promotion and preservation of jazz music.

This collection, which covers about a 50-year span, includes records of the Black Musicians Union--also known as the Protective Musicians Union, Local No. 274 of the American Federation of Musicians--as well as records from the union's social arm, the Clef Club. The records, which appear to be fairly comprehensive, consist primarily of administrative records, financial records, and records relating to members. There are many records related to the Club Bar. There are also a large amount of records relating to work (performance) opportunities that members were afforded due to their affiliation with the club, as well as records concerning performances organized by the club. Also included are some printed items relating to the union's parent organization, the American Federation of Musicians, and a few photographs, and ephemera such as newspaper clippings and concert programs.

The administrative records in this collection include large amounts of meeting minutes (including board meeting minutes and executive committee minutes) and general correspondence and office files. There are many other document types, such as: printed constitution and by-laws; reports, including business agents reports; lists of meeting attendees; two rolodexes; election committee papers, ballots, and tally sheets; contracts and contract forms; union wage scales; "Rules Governing "B" or Social Members Applications"; guest books; and more. There is a significant amount of documentation relating to the the Recording Industries Music Performance Trust Fund, for musical performances at social service organizations such as hospitals. These documents include applications to the Fund, payroll for performances, and reports.

There is also a large amount of financial records in the collection, especially receipt books, cash disbursements, financial reports and audits, and check books. Other finanical documents include: receipts and invoices, including those for office and bar supplies; collection registers; tax records; bank records, including deposit slips; cash register tapes; drink and liquor orders; and other ledgers and documents.

The member records are principally organized into alphabetical artists' files, containing correspondence with and about members as well as related documents. In addition, the collection includes materials such as: membership file cards; artists' salaries ledgers; summons for contract violations; transfer membership book; life insurance forms and certificates; and personal data sheets.

Materials relating to the Black Musicians Union Local No. 274's parent organization include constitution and by-laws of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada, and American Federation of Musicians fee forms. Also included in the collection are published materials relating to music and jazz, including periodicals and journals; books; encyclopedias; sheet music and music scores; and a couple reel-to-reels. There is also a large quantity of blank envelopes, letterhead, and forms.

Gift of Musician's Protective Union Local #274, American Federation of Musicians.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts directly for more information.

Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Faith Charlton through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Access Restrictions

Parts of this collection may be restricted. Contact Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts for information about accessing this collection.

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