The Peggy Gilbert Collection documents the life and career of female jazz saxophonist and bandleader Peggy Gilbert. The collection documents the bands and orchestras she led and various groups in which she played during the 1930s and 1940s, her time spent working for the Los Angeles musicians union, Local 47, throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the various movies and TV shows she appeared on, accolades bestowed upon her, and the formation of her all-girl band the Dixie Belles from 1974 to 1996. The collection contains Gilbert's scrapbooks, photographs, newspaper clippings, posters, plaques, awards, Compact Discs, correspondence, and musical scores. The collection has been divided into four series: Scrapbooks (1920-2007), Music and Notes (1936-2006), Plaques and Other Awards (ca. 1929-2007), and Card Files and Compact Discs (1986-2007).
Series I, Scrapbooks, consists of eleven of Peggy Gilbert's personal scrapbooks which document over eight decades of Gilbert's life and career, and make up the bulk of the collection. They document some of her early bands from the 1930s and 1940s, including her participation in the all-woman group Boots and Her Buddies as well as her own bands and orchestras. It includes posters and news articles advertising and describing her bands' performances at venues such as the Coconut Grove, Garden of Allah, and Orpheum Theatre, as well as various movies in which she appeared including The Wet Parade in 1932 and Start Cheering in 1938. Additionally, this series documents the time she spent working at Local 47 of the musicians union in the 1950s and 1960s, and contains copies of her column "Tuning in on Femme Musicians," which she wrote for the union's monthly publication, The Overture, from 1979 to 1984. The series includes extensive photographs, articles, and correspondence regarding the Dixie Belles. The series is arranged in loosely chronological order.
Series II, Music and Notes, contains Gilbert's musical scores and instrumental parts ranging from a tune entitled "Dixie Belle" by Anthony Horowitz to a musical co-written by Gilbert in the 1950s titled Mr. Chick Tapp, detailing the story of a tap-dancing chicken. The series also includes various songs, a manuscript, a sketchbook, certificates of copyright registration, jazz charts, CDs and press kits for Barabara Schottenfeld and Denise Wells, correspondence with composer Bob Nichols, and a notebook entitled "Sex or Sax. My Book Notes" which contains Gilbert's reminiscences. The series is arranged alphabetically.
Series III, Plaques and Other Awards, includes various awards that Peggy Gilbert received throughout her life. The majority of these plaques and awards were presented to Gilbert later in her life, including a 1989 "Life Member of the Year" award from the Musicians' Union Local 47 of Southern California, a 1982 "Golden Mask Award" from the Hollywood Appreciation Society, and a 2005 City of Los Angeles Resolution wishing Peggy Gilbert a happy 100th birthday. Additionally, this series includes a film poster of Peggy Gilbert and Her All Girl Band, some large photographs from 1920s-1950s, and a frisbee hand painted with a picture of Gilbert dressed in Dixie Belle attire and playing the saxophone. The series is arranged by format.
Series IV, Card Files and Compact Discs, contains a large number of Tune-Dex cards, which are 3 x 5 inch index cards with the melodies and chord changes of popular tunes found on one side, and the corresponding copyright information found on the reverse. This series also includes invitations for the Pioneer Musicians of Los Angeles Luncheon and Concert held in 1986, an audio interview of Peggy Gilbert conducted in 1998, and a BBC program about her life from 2007. The series is arranged by format.