Lawrence Gushee Papers Finding Aid Project Completed

The Sousa Archives staff and this past summer’s archival arrangement and description class completed the processing of the Lawrence Gushee Papers last week before the Thanksgiving holiday break. The online finding aid can be accessed through the following URL:

The Gushee collection was donated to the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music last December, and contains a rich resource of primary source materials documenting Gushee’s research in a variety of Medieval, Renaissance and American popular music topics. Of particular significance are his research files related to his seminal book, Pioneers of Jazz: The Story of the Creole Band, which was published in 2005.

Lawrence “Larry” Arthur Gushee (1931-2015) was born in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania to Lawrence and Mary McEachern Gushee, and grew up in Boston and Philadelphia. After graduating from William Penn Charter School, he earned a Bachelors degree in the History of Music from Yale University, and then a Ph.D. in Musicology Studies from Yale in 1962. His teaching career included posts at Yale (until 1967), University of Wisconsin-Madison (1967-1976), and finally University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1976-1997).

Gushee was a classically-trained clarinetist as well as a musicologist, and later in his career he became involved in traditional jazz and ragtime performance. He later formed his own band, the New Golden Rule Orchestra. Gushee’s study of American popular music grew from his initial interest in Medieval and Renaissance trouveres and troubadours, and his work in early music included the genealogy of important musicians and the tracing of song origins. These early endeavors were highly influential upon his work with American music, and his later scholarly research on Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, Freddie Keppard, and the Original Creole Band of New Orleans. However, his most influential contribution as a scholar was the promotion of early jazz as a serious field of scholarly research.

In honor of Larry Gushee’s contributions to the study of America’s early jazz heritage, Phil Schaap, curator and academic head of Swing University, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s School for Jazz Music Appreciation, is planning a Freddie Keppard Symposium on the evening of December 9th, 2015, which will be dedicated to Gushee.   For more information on this event visit

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