Finding Aid Friday: Queens Musicians Edition

This weekend I’ll be heading to the Queens Museum to see an exhibition on the Ramones, a local band started by guys from Forest Hills who had a song about Rockaway Beach and played at a small club in the East Village on occasion.

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Hey! Ho! Let’s go and see this thing at the Queens Museum!

In honor of this light shined on some good Jewish boys from the boro of my birth, I am devoting this Finding Aid Friday to finding aids for collections of (and pertaining to) other famous denizens of Queens, NY.


Map courtesy of an old Ebay listing.

Benny Goodman was a jazzman, clarinetist, and bandleader who lived in Jackson Heights for a spell. His papers can be found in Yale University’s Irving S. Gilmore Music Library. A finding aid is available, but it only provides information on his musical scores. Correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, and other miscellanea “…will be added to the register at a later date,” according to finding aid’s website.

Not sure who this Goodman guy is? Watch him perform the clarinet solo in “Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing)” in the video below:

The Adler Hip-Hop Archive is part of the larger Cornell Hip Hop Collection, which seeks to preserve materials from early hip hop culture. The Adler treasure trove was collected and donated by Bill Adler, former Def Jam Recordings publicity director, and consists of business records, correspondence, PR materials, articles, photos, audio and video. Among the Def Jam artists from Queens are Eric B., LL Cool J, Run-DMC, and A Tribe Called Quest.

In keeping with the Queens theme, here is Hollis’ own Run-DMC performing “Christmas in Hollis”:

Last, but not least, is a musician one might not view as a New Yorker. Woody Guthrie may have been from Oklahoma, but he did live in Queens for a time, so he fits on the list. My former dentist’s receptionist once told me “Woody Guthrie used to live here.” “Here” was Howard Beach, Queens, and about five blocks from where I used to live. Nice place. Good food, bad smells, too noisy because of the planes, but I digress.

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The Woody Guthrie Center Archives has a beautiful website. Instead of one massive Guthrie finding aid, there are several according to context — correspondence, art work, personal papers, photographs, etc. — that are then subdivided into series. After browsing around there, head over to to hear more about Woody’s time in the Boros.



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