The William P. Gottlieb: Photographs from the Golden Age of Jazz collection features approximately 1,600 photographs taken by the writer and photographer William P. Gottlieb. Most of the photographs were shot between 1938 and 1948. Included among them are portraits of some of the greatest and best known musicians of the era—Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzie Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Stan Kenton, Charlie Parker, Mel Torme, and many more. The collection also includes articles from Down Beat magazine, for which Gottlieb worked after World War II, and images of Down Beat covers, as well as Gottlieb's own reflections on a select group of images. Permission from the Gottlieb estate is required through February 16, 2010 for commercial uses or uses exceeding fair use.
The collection provides an opportunity for students to examine in depth the art of photography, particularly portrait photography shot on location. It also provides a window into a particular piece of cultural history—the jazz scene in an era when jazz was at its peak and new forms of this particularly American art form were evolving. Further, close analysis of the documents in the collection reveals the connections jazz and issues related to race, gender, and the labor movement.