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Peggy Gilbert Collection



Biographical Note

Scope and Contents

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Scrapbooks and Photo Album

Music and Notes

Plaques and Other Awards

Card Files and Compact Discs

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Peggy Gilbert Collection, 1920-2007 | Special Collections & Archives

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Collection Overview

Title: Peggy Gilbert Collection, 1920-2007Save to your list.


Primary Creator: Gilbert, Peggy (1905-2007)

Extent: 5.66 Linear Feet


Series I: Scrapbooks, 1920-2007

Series II: Music and Notes, 1936-2006

Series III: Plaques and Other Awards, ca. 1929-2007

Series IV: Card Files and Compact Discs, 1986-2007

Date Acquired: 00/00/2008

Subjects: Gilbert, Peggy, Saxophonists - United States, Women musicians - United States

Forms of Material: Audio recordings, Paper records, Photographic material, Scrapbooks

Languages: English


Peggy Gilbert was a saxophonist and band leader. From the 1930s through 1996 she led several all-girl orchestras and bands. An advocate for women musicians, she arranged for bookings and contracts. She was an active member in Local 47 of the Musician’s Union. The Peggy Gilbert Collection contains the personal music scores, scrapbooks, and photographs of Peggy Gilbert, with a few items from her youth. The audio materials in the collection include an interview with Peggy Gilbert and a program about her life which aired on the BBC in 2007.

Biographical Note

Peggy Gilbert (1905-2007) was a saxophonist and band leader. From the 1930s through 1996 she led several all-girl orchestras and bands. An advocate for women musicians, she arranged for bookings and contracts and was an active member in Local 47 of the Musicians' Union.

After playing with an all-girl band, Boots and Her Buddies, in the 1930s, Gilbert formed her own band in 1933 which played in Honolulu. She changed the name of her musical groups frequently. They played in Hollywood films and in clubs such as the Coconut Grove, Garden of Allah, and in 1937, Hollywood's Second "Swing Concert" at The Palomar in Los Angeles. Her band played on radio and toured with the USO during the 1940s, and from 1949 to 1970 she worked at Local 47 as a secretary.

After retiring, Gilbert continued to serve on Local 47's board of directors and wrote a column called "Tuning in on Femme Musicians" for the union's monthly publication, The Overture. In 1974, at the age of 69, she formed a new band, the Dixie Belles with whom she performed at numerous events and jazz festivals, including an appearance on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1981 and two appearances on episodes of The Golden Girls in 1982 and 1988. She stopped performing in 1996 and died at the age of 102 in 2007.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

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.

Subject/Index Terms

Gilbert, Peggy
Saxophonists - United States
Women musicians - United States

Administrative Information

Repository: Special Collections & Archives

Access Restrictions: The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions: Copyright for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection has not been transferred to California State University, Northridge. Copyright status for other materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Acquisition Source: Jeannie Pool

Preferred Citation: For information about citing items in this collection consult the appropriate style manual, or see the Citing Archival Materials guide.

Processing Information: Tony Gardner

Finding Aid Revision History: Special Collections and Archives staff, 2012

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series I: Scrapbooks and Photo Album, 1920-2007]
[Series II: Music and Notes]
[Series III: Plaques and Other Awards]
[Series IV: Card Files and Compact Discs, 1986-2007],

Series II: Music and NotesSave to your list.
Box 4Save to your list.
Folder 1: Dixie BelleSave to your list.
Folder 1a: Dixieland JazzSave to your list.
Folder 2: Don't be a FoolSave to your list.
Folder 3: Don't Wear Your Heart on Your SleeveSave to your list.
Folder 4: Gettin' EvenSave to your list.
Folder 5: I Found My Love in the Yellow PagesSave to your list.
Folder 6: I'll See You AgainSave to your list.
Folder 7: If You Don't Think I'm LeavingSave to your list.
Folder 8: Is There Room in Your Heart for MeSave to your list.
Folder 9: Molasses, MolassesSave to your list.
Folder 10: Mr. Chick Tapp, Copyright RegistrationSave to your list.
Folder 11: Mr. Chick Tapp, Drawings by Peggy GilbertSave to your list.
Folder 12: Mr. Chick Tapp, ManuscriptSave to your list.
Folder 13: Mr. Chick Tapp, Music Score, "Ballet de Square Egg"Save to your list.
Folder 14: Mr. Chick Tapp, Music Score, "Put the Pots on"Save to your list.
Folder 15: Mr. Chick Tapp, Music Score, "The Belles are on their Way"Save to your list.
Folder 16: Mr. Chick Tapp, Music Score, "Who Parked the Car"Save to your list.
Folder 17: Mr. Chick Tapp, Music Scores, "Chick Tap, Kitten without Mittens, I See Pink People"Save to your list.
Folder 18: Mr. Chick Tapp, PrologueSave to your list.
Folder 19: Mr. Chick Tapp, ScriptSave to your list.
Folder 20: Mr. Chick Tapp, Story OutlineSave to your list.
Folder 21: Mr. Chick Tapp, TypescriptSave to your list.
Folder 22: My Lonely Heart, Correspondence with Composer Bob NicholsSave to your list.
Folder 23: NatalieSave to your list.
Folder 24: Press Kit, Hot and Sweet, Barbara SchottenfeldSave to your list.
Folder 25: "Rodeo Cowboy"Save to your list.
Folder 26: "Sacramento Jubilee"Save to your list.
Folder 27: Sex or Sax, My Book NotesSave to your list.
Folder 28: "Sidesteppin'"Save to your list.
Folder 29: "Wang, Wang Blues"Save to your list.
Folder 30: Wells, DeniseSave to your list.
Folder 31: "You Can't See Me in My Jammies"Save to your list.
Folder 32: "You Just Drive Me Screwy"Save to your list.

Browse by Series:

[Series I: Scrapbooks and Photo Album, 1920-2007]
[Series II: Music and Notes]
[Series III: Plaques and Other Awards]
[Series IV: Card Files and Compact Discs, 1986-2007],

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