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COLLECTION Identifier: Ms. Coll. 108

Howard Fischer correspondence and other material regarding Harrison Smith's copyright claims of Jelly Roll Morton songs, 1949-1969.


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.


  • 1949-1969

Conditions Governing Access

Access to the collection is unrestricted.


1 collection (1 file box)

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.

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.

Physical Location

Merritt Room

Immediate Source of Acquisition

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

Processing Information

Processed by Sarah Adams

Howard Fischer correspondence and other material regarding Harrison Smith's copyright claims of Jelly Roll Morton songs, 1949-1969.
Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library Repository

The Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library is the primary repository of musical materials at Harvard. The Music Library’s collecting mission is to serve music teaching and research programs in the Music Department and throughout the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In addition, it supports the musical needs of the broader Harvard community as well as an international scholarly constituency. We collect books, musical scores, serial titles, sound recordings and video formats, microforms, and rare and archival materials that support research in a wide variety of musical disciplines including historical musicology, music theory, ethnomusicology, composition, and historically informed performance practice, as well as interdisciplinary areas related to music. The special collections include archival collections from the 19th, 20th and 21st century.

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