The cornerstone of the Museum and Archive is a collection of material from the Beiderbecke family that was acquired from Bix's great niece, Elizabeth Beiderbecke-Hart. These items include photos of Bix in his youth, letters he wrote to his family and documents from his early years in Davenport.
A centerpiece is the piano that Bix purchased for his apartment in Sunnyside, Queens, New York, only weeks before his death on August 6, 1931. It was located and acquired by Dr. Albert Haim. The piano, which is in excellent condition, is the only one that Bix ever bought himself. Dr. Haim, professor emeritus at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, is the founder of an internet site, http://bixbeiderbecke.com and is an advisor to the museum board.
Other acquisitions include:
- An instrument trunk used by Frank Trumbauer while touring with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra.
- A beautifully ornamented Bacon & Day banjo formerly owned by Wolverines musician Bobby Gillette.
- A photomontage of Bix with other musicians, formerly part of the furnishings from Eddie Condon’s jazz club in New York.
- The steps from the bandstand at Hudson Lake, where Bix played during the summer of 1926.
- Scrapbooks belonging to Howdy Quicksell and George Johnson, featuring many unpublished photos and documents.
- Instruments and other items belonging to Bob Gillette, Eddie Condon, Frank Trumbauer, Pee Wee Russell, Chauncey Morehouse, Spiegle Willcox, Bill Rank and Jean Goldkette.
- Many items belonging to Bix Beiderbecke, such as a cornet he owned in his youth, a gold vest, traveling trunk and other personal pieces.
- The museum also has acquired the extensive Phil and Linda Evans/Scott Black collection. This vast resource, unlike any other in existence, represents Mr. Evans's lifelong quest to find and document the reminiscences of anyone who knew Bix, or was in any way connected. It includes many hundreds of letters, tape-recorded interviews, photographs, newspaper clippings and documents. The material will be archived and made available to scholars from around the world.
Letters home showed Bix's deep love for his family.
Vest and cornet from Bix's youth.