Collection on Ella Fitzgerald, circa 1940-1988

Overview of the Collection

Fitzgerald, Ella
Collection on Ella Fitzgerald
circa 1940-1988 (inclusive)
56 items
Collection Number
IJC MG 004
Ella Fitzgerald was a jazz vocalist. This collection was assembled with materials acquired by the University of Idaho and donated to the Library in 1997. The collection includes personal items and artifacts that belonged to the artist.
University of Idaho Library, Special Collections and Archives
Special Collections and Archives
University of Idaho Library
875 Perimeter Drive
MS 2350
Moscow, ID
Telephone: 2088850845
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Ella Jane Fitzgerald was born in Newport News, Virginia, on April 25, 1917 and raised in Yonkers, New York. In 1934 Benny Carter and Bardu Ali heard Ms. Fitzgerald singing at the Apollo Theatre and introduced her to Chick Webb who hired Ella as a singer with his orchestra. One of the major hits of her career was a version of the nursery rhyme "A-Tisket, A-Tasket," recorded in 1938, with Webb's orchestra. After his death in 1939, she assumed the leadership of the orchestra for some years. By 1946 she was well into her solo career touring the world with Norman Granz' Jazz at the Philharmonic. In 1955 Granz became Ms. Fitzgerald's personal manager and she began recording for his label, Verve. Throughout her career Ella recorded with jazz greats including Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Ray Brown, Count Basie, Al Grey, and others. Worth mentioning are eight "Song Book" albums Ms. Fitzgerald produced for Verve from 1956 to 1964. In this series she sang compositions of Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, Rodgers and Hart, George and Ira Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Harold Arlen, and Johnny Mercer. She was the recipient of several awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1992), the French medal of Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters (Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres)(1990), the NAACP Image award for Lifetime Achievement (1988), U.S. National Medal of Arts (1987), the first ASCAP award in recognition of an artist (1965), and several Grammy and Down Beat magazine awards. She also received awards and honorary degrees from several universities, including Princeton University (1990) and Dartmouth College (1976). Ella Fitzgerald died in Beverly Hills, California, on June 15, 1996.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This collection was assembled by Special Collections and Archives of the University of Idaho Library with materials acquired by the University of Idaho from the Estate of Ella Fitzgerald. The collection contains fifty two items that belonged to the artist. Note that a record album inside its cover, a necklace with medallion, a hat with hatpin, or eyeglasses inside an eyeglass case, are counted as one item each.

A portion of this collection has been digitized and is available on the Ella Fitzgerald Digital Collection.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Preferred Citation

[Description of Item], Collection on Ella Fitzgerald, IJC MG 4, Special Collections and Archives, University of Idaho Library, Moscow, Idaho.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Custodial History

The University of Idaho acquired the materials in this collection in 1997, apparently from three different sources.The hats at a Sotheby's auction (New York?), from the Estate of Ella Fitzgerald; seven vintage album covers, a Don Loper gown, a pair of shoes, and a necklace, at BUMPS Fine Art, Antiques and Collectibles (Los Angeles), from the Beverly Hills Estate of Ella Fitzgerald; and the remainder of the materials from the 1989 Fitzgerald Trust, through the Law offices of Le Winter and Rosman (Encino, CA). The photographs of Ella Fitzgerald from the launch of the The Entertainment Channel were donated by Christi Warner in 2021 (IJC MA 2021-15).

Processing Note

The collection was processed in January 2011. Some additional materials were added to the collection in 2022.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Personal MaterialsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box object
1 1 undated
1 2
Certificate of Honorary Columbia Citizen to Ella Fitzgerald
1 item : Kirkman Finlay, Jr. Mayor of the City of Columbia, South Carolina, October 22, 1981, in a 14 x 11.25 inch frame under glass
1 3 1980
1 4
Album 'Ella in London'
1 item : Pablo Records
1 5 1980
1 6 undated
1 7
Cover of the album 'Lady Time'
1 item : Ella Fitzgerald with Jackie Davis and Louie Bellson. Pablo Records
1 8 1975-07-17
1 9 1983
1 10 1956
1 11 1967
1 12 1964
1 13
Ella's credit card from C. Ludwig Baumann and Company, Brooklyn. Signed
1 item
1 14 undated
1 15
Ella's credit card from Bank of America, Visa. Signed
1 item
1 16 undated
1 17
Portrait of Ella Fitzgerald by Popsie of New York in the format of a postcard
1 item : 3.5 x 5.5 inch black and white photograph
1 18
Portrait of Ella Fitzgerald
1 item : 4 x 5 inch black and white photograph
1 19
Ella Fitzgerald wearing the turquoise gown
1 item : 8 x 10 inch color photograph
1 20
Ella Fitzgerald in a paisley dress, holding a microphone. Pablo
1 item : 10 x 8 inch black and white photograph
1 21
Ella Fitzgerald performing. Pablo
1 item : 8 x 10 inch black and white photograph
1 22
Ella Fitzgerald wearing the Seville Classic hat
1 item : 8 x 10 inch black and white photograph
1 23
Ella Fitzgerald in an early publicity portrait
1 item : 8 x 10 inch black and white photograph
1 24
Ella Fitzgerald snapping fingers and smiling at the camera
1 item : 10 x 8 inch black and white photograph.
1 25
Ella Fitzgerald performing in a flowered dress
1 item : 8 x 10 inch black and white photograph
1 26
Ella Fitzgerald wearing a squined shirt at the Lord and Taylor Rose award
1 item : 8 x 10 inch black and white photograph
1 27
Ella Fitzgerald wearing a Memorex outfit
1 item : 8 x 10 inch black and white photograph
1 28
Ella Fitzgerald wearing a checkered jacket and brooch
1 item : 8 x 10 inch black and white photograph
1 29
Ella Fitzgerald performing in a striped dress
1 item : Signed 8 x 10 inch black and white photograph
1 30 1981
1 31 1981
1 32 undated
1 33 1963
1 34
Norman Granz' Jazz at the Philharmonic 14th National Tour
1 item : Cover artwork by David Stone Martin
1 35 1955
2 36
Wide brimmed ecru color organza hat
1 item : Label: Made to Order Rex Inc. Beverly Hills California
2 37
Blue and ecru color woven pillbox hat
1 item : Labels: Made in England, Otto Lucas Junior; Saks Fifth Avenue
3 38
Wide-brimmed black hat with hatpin
1 item : Label: Emme Inc. New York I. Magnin and Co.; Stamped: Duchess Reg'd, Body Made in Italy
3 39
Black Clasico Sevillano hat
1 item : Stamped: La Perla Filipina, Conde Asalto 20, Barcelona; Clasico Sevillano [Seville Classic]
4 40
Turquoise gown
1 item
4 41
Orange dress with floral print
1 item : Label: Don Loper of California
5 42-43
Aquamarine high-heeled shoes
2 items : Light green/aquamarine satin pumps. 3.5 inch heel. Label: Vogue House Originals by Ansonia
5 44 undated
5 45-46 undated
6 47
1 item : Label: Japanese fiber made in Hong Kong; Naomi Sims Collection
7 48
Framed photograph of Ella Fitzgerald and William Tishman
1 item : 12 x 10 inch frame with a black and white photograph
7 49
Two framed photographs: Ella Fitzgerald with an unidentified woman and Nelson Riddle with an unidentified woman.
1 item : 13 x 20.5 inch frame with two black and white photographs and a placard for 'The Entertainment Channel'
Oversized 50
Westwood Playhouse poster featuring a sketch of Ella Fitzgerald by Pablo Picasso. Dedicated to Ella by Picasso on May 28, 1970
1 item : 35 x 23 inch poster
Oversized 51
American Express advertising poster featuring Ella Fitzgerald
1 item : 13 x 10.5 inch poster featuring Ella Fitzgerald advertising American Express travel card
Oversized 52
Reprint of a newspaper article by Joan Sutton, which appeared in The Toronto Sun, on April 11, 1978
1 item : 11 x 17 inch
Oversized 53
Poster featuring a portrait of Ella Fitzgerald by LeRoy Neiman (Signed), with the inscriptions: Ella in Flight; Ella Fitzgerald Inaugurates Continental Airlines Pub Flight Service.
1 item : 25 x 30.5 inch
Unboxed 54-56
Three boxes: two hatboxes (Saks Fifth Avenue and Rex), and a square box (Ann Taylor)
3 items

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • African American women jazz singers
  • Jazz
  • Jazz singers
  • Women jazz singers
  • Women jazz singers--United States