The Bob Dylan Archive has been acquired by the George Kaiser Family Foundation and The University of Tulsa and will be permanently housed in Tulsa, under the stewardship of TU’s Helmerich Center for American Research, for subsequent public exhibition in the city’s burgeoning Brady Arts District, it was jointly announced Wednesday by GKFF Executive Director Ken Levit and TU President Steadman Upham. Comprised of more than 6,000 items spanning nearly 60 years of Bob Dylan’s unique artistry, singular career and worldwide cultural significance, the archive includes decades of never-before-seen handwritten manuscripts, notebooks and correspondence; films, videos, photographs and artwork; memorabilia and ephemera; personal documents and effects; unreleased studio and concert recordings; musical instruments and many other items.
The alliance of GKFF and TU was chosen by Dylan’s representatives over other suitors vying for this historic collection, and both entities view the archive as an important acquisition for Tulsa in many ways. As Levit explained, “Bob Dylan is a national treasure whose work continues to enrich the lives of millions the world over, and we are proud to be bringing such an important, comprehensive and culturally significant archive to Tulsa. Our combined philanthropic and academic approach made a strong case for assuring Mr. Dylan and his representatives that Tulsa would provide the ideal environment to care for and exhibit this collection, and the result is a boon for Tulsa that will soon attract Bob Dylan fans and scholars to our city from around the world.”
“The University of Tulsa is pleased to collaborate with the George Kaiser Family Foundation in assuming the role of steward for this invaluable collection. Because of the level of scholarship available through the university and its partners, TU is the perfect keeper of the Bob Dylan Archive,” said TU President Steadman Upham. “Dylanology is a growing aspect of social science and humanities research, and Tulsa will soon become the international epicenter for the academic pursuit of all things Dylan.”
Bob Dylan said, “I’m glad that my archives, which have been collected all these years, have finally found a home and are to be included with the works of Woody Guthrie and especially alongside all the valuable artifacts from the Native American Nations. To me it makes a lot of sense and it’s a great honor.”
Nearly 1,000 items from the Bob Dylan Archive have already been brought to the Hardesty Archival Center inside the university’s Helmerich Center for American Research – which is affiliated with Tulsa’s prestigious Gilcrease Museum – where they are being digitized and preserved by a digital curation team for eventual public exhibition and academic access. The process of physically acquiring the complete archive will span two years, as the individual components are gathered from their numerous locations, inventoried and carefully shipped to Tulsa.
The acquisition of the Bob Dylan Archive was facilitated by Glenn Horowitz Bookseller of New York City, one of the world’s foremost authorities and dealers of literary, historical and art-related rare books, autographs and manuscripts.
Representatives from GKFF and TU will soon begin the process of selecting a curator and additional staff, forming an advisory committee for the Bob Dylan Archive, and will announce initial plans for public exhibition and academic access to the collection later this year. Ultimately, a permanent exhibit space for the archive will be designated near the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa’s Brady Arts District, which houses a museum dedicated to American folksinger and Oklahoma native Woody Guthrie. Guthrie was one of Dylan’s most significant early influences, even inspiring one of Dylan’s first tracks, Song to Woody on his 1962 self-titled album.
The Bob Dylan Archive is a comprehensive anthology that encompasses thousands of historic items that exemplify the evolution of masterpieces that today are woven into the annals of American music, such as:
- A notebook from 1974 containing Dylan’s handwritten lyrics to songs that were eventually recorded for the artist’s biggest-selling album, Blood On The Tracks, including Tangled Up In Blue, Simple Twist Of Fate and Idiot Wind.
- Sketches, writings and edits from Tarantula, Dylan’s 1965 groundbreaking collection of experimental poetry.
- Dylan lyrics and chord progressions for unrecorded songs, circa 1970.
- Handwritten notes from Dylan and director Howard Alk, detailing editing notes and shot selects from the films Eat The Document (1971) and Renaldo And Clara (1978).
- Dylan’s 1962 signed contract with Witmark Music, his first music publisher.
- Dylan’s 1966 wallet containing numerous inserts, including paper with Johnny Cash’s address and phone number, as well as a business card from Otis Redding.
- Complete, never-released Dylan concert films from Toronto’s Massey Hall in 1980 and New York’s Supper Club from 1993.
- Dylan’s earliest music recordings from 1959.
- The leather jacket worn by Dylan onstage at The Newport Folk Festival in 1965, the year he “went electric.”
- The surviving harp from inside the piano on which Dylan composed Like A Rolling Stone.
- Lyrics to Chimes Of Freedom, handwritten by Dylan in 1964 on hotel stationery, complete with annotations and additional verses.
- In-progress and final lyrics to all songs from Dylan’s latter-day masterpiece Time Out Of Mind, handwritten and annotated by the artist.