John Steiner Collection

Institution: University of Chicago Library - Special Collections Research Center
1100 E. 57th Street
Chicago, IL 60637-1504
Phone: 773-702-8705
Fax: 773-702-3728
Date: 1860-2001
Extent: 331.25 Linear Feet
Finding Aid
Access to this collection is restricted; please contact the holding institution for details.

Biographical/Historical Note:
John Franklin Steiner's interest in recording was prompted mostly through the people he knew, such as his next door neighbor Paul Edward Miller, a writer for Downbeat. In 1938, Steiner met Hugh Davis, an engineer, who worked for Seeburg, the jukebox company, and had access to equipment for pressing records. Around 1939, Steiner and Davis started recording music in jazz clubs. By 1943 they formed S/D Records. Though a fire in 1946 destroyed most of S/D Records documentation and record stock, Steiner continued to organize recording sessions as well as release reissues. Starting in 1943, John Steiner began leasing the rights to recordings from Paramount Records, owned by the Wisconsin Chair Company, and releasing them on the S/D label. He bought all the rights to Paramount Records in 1949, which also included the rights to Broadway, Puritan, QRS, Rialto, and others. In the 1970s, Steiner helped found the Chicago Jazz Institute. For nearly eighty years, Steiner collected material about jazz music, musicians, recording companies, and many other topics of interest. He was internationally known as an expert on jazz and especially Chicago jazz and often acted as a source or consultant for articles, books, dissertations and theses, documentaries, and other productions of jazz history.

Scope and Content Note:
The John Steiner Collection contains sheet music, articles, photographs, scrapbooks, correspondence, interviews, ephemera, and publications. The collection spans 140 years and documents Chicago jazz and blues, musicians, clubs, printed music, recording companies, and recording technology. The main focus of the collection is jazz and Chicago jazz, but the collection also documents other music styles such as blues, swing, boogie woogie, minstrel, and rag.

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