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Legacies: Collecting America's History at the Smithsonian, by Steven Lubar and Kathleen M. Kendrick
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Dizzy Gillespie's trumpet and case, 1970sDizzy Gillespie's trumpet and case, 1970s

In 1984 the National Museum of American History received a letter from a jazz fan in Webster, Texas, suggesting a new addition to its musical history collection: "the trademark diagonal trumpet of the great Dizzy Gillespie." Curators acknowledged that the story and sound of jazz, an indigenous and vital American art form, belonged in the nation's museum, but no concerted effort had been made to collect the instruments of famous jazz artists. In 1985 the museum acquired Gillespie's custom-made King Silver Flair trumpet and case, and since then it has collected the memorabilia of many other jazz greats, including Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Ella Fitzgerald.

See also: Musical Instruments, Popular Culture Memorabilia, Popular Objects

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