Documentation Strategies and Sherrie Tucker's Search for Women in Jazz.
One can place the study of women in jazz firmly in the second wave of feminism, especially in the continuing reverberations of this movement into the twenty-first century. In the early years of the 2000s, Sherrie Tucker conducted a study for the National Park Service, published (2004) as A Feminist Perspective on New Orleans Jazzwomen. This study primarily asks the first question that the second wave of feminist scholars asked: Where are the women?
Tucker was conducting what archivists would call a documentation strategy, looking for those places where women were undocumented, though her study was not charged with actual results concerned with archives. She considers some thirty-one women in short biographies. Here are women who performed as blues singers such as Lizzie Miles, Edna Hicks, Mary Mack, and Esther Bigeou. Here too are the Storyville women musicians, pianist and singer Ann Cook and brothel owner and cornet-playing Antonia Gonzales. Tucker tells us too about Mamie Desdunes whose singing and piano playing influenced Jelly Roll Morton.
Other biographies suggest the work patterns of women musicians. Unlike men, these women left work to tend to families only to return when they were older. Pianists Dolly Douroux (later Adams), Jeanette Salvant (later Kimball), Mercedes German (later Fields) all worked in many different bands throughout their lives, though taking off time to raise children, teach, and work in other fields as as needed.
Tucker, whose earlier work concerned the all-women bands of the mid-twentieth century, writes an especially strong biography of Dixie Fasnacht, who played the clarinet and alto saxophone. The mural from her bar, featuring 66 luminaries of the entertainment world, is now part of the collection of the Louisiana State Museum, which the Gender, Archives and Musical Culture class visits year after year. Fasnacht later ran a bar with her sister in the French Quarter.
Tucker, whose earlier work concerned the all-women bands of the entertainment world, is now part of the collection of the Louisiana State Museum, which the Gender, Archives, Musical Culture class visits year after year. In terms of archives it is interesting to look at her sources, as well as the way in which she locates the city of New Orleans as itself a center for not only women who grew up here (as most did), but also others who came to play, and others who played elsewhere with New Orleans musicians. The biography of Lovie Austin, for example, makes this point: that Austin is "central to the history of recorded New Orleans jazz, since so many musicians recorded in the Chicago studio where she worked. The sources on Austin came from the Institute for Jazz Studies at Rutgers, a William Russell interview in the Hogan Jazz Archives at Tulane, and notes of Russell at the Historic New Orleans Collection.
Students of archives and scholars interested in the paper trail of records should look at the finding aid especially of Russell online at the HNOC site. Finding aids are guides to collection, the name being the formal phrase that archivists give to descriptions of collections.
Sherrie Tucker PDF: http://www.nps.gov/jazz/historyculture/upload/New_Orleans_Jazzwomen_RS-2.pdf"