W. Eugene Smith Reference CD collection, 1946-1971 50 Linear Feet
The W. Eugene Smith Reference Reference CD Collection consists of 5,087 compact discs containing audio originally recorded to quarter-inch open reel tape by photographer W. Eugene Smith. Smith recorded the bulk of the 1,740 reels represented in this collection between 1957 and 1971, while living in the "Jazz Loft" at 821 Sixth Avenue in New York City. The tapes are housed in the W. Eugene Smith Collection at the University of Arizona's Center for Creative Photography, which, in partnership with the Center for Documentary Studies and other funders, facilitated the transfer to compact disc as part of writer Sam Stephenson's research on the Jazz Loft and the life of Smith.
Stephenson and the staff of CDS began a years-long process of discovering the content of the recordings, a process documented in Stephenson's book, The Jazz Loft Project, and on the Project website, http://www.jazzloftproject.org/. They found that Smith's microphones had captured jazz jams, conversations, ambient sounds, radio and television programs, and all variety of life in the Loft, creating an aural portrait that uniquely and exhaustively documents from within one of New York's creative crucibles of the 1950s and 1960s.
The recordings in this finding aid are organized by reel number and accompanied by a set of notes created by CDS, which is included here verbatim for each reel. The researcher should note that spelling, grammatical, typographical, and content errors have been left intact. Because Smith often recorded his tapes at a low speed, which enabled him to fit more content on the tape, many of the tapes have more than one compact disc associated with them.