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Donald Bacon papers, 1970-1997

Identifier: BCA-002

Scope and Contents

The Donald Bacon papers represent the work of a journalist and photographer who documented the jazz scene in New England over an approximately twenty-five year period; 1970-1997. The collection includes a significant collection of incoming correspondence (he received) and outgoing correspondence (he sent) to jazz musicians, agents and other individuals. A highlight of the collection is a group of thirty-one letters and cards Bacon received from the French jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli between 1976 and 1992. The correspondence documents Bacon’s friendship with Grappelli and his work on promoting the violinist’s North American revival in the 1970’s. Photographs of jazz musicians make up another important component of the collection. A third category of records (Series II: Sound Recordings), are recorded interviews with musicians and live recordings of jazz concerts on audio cassette tapes

The bulk of this collection (Series 1: Vertical files) is housed in folders that are arranged alphabetically by either a musician’s surname, the name of a band, or a major topic. Several different types of records are found in the collection. The quantity of items in each type is noted in the folder’s description. The major types are: articles (signed newspaper and magazine articles), record and concert reviews, news clippings and magazine clippings (short unsigned and undated newspaper and magazine items), promotional material (including biographies and news releases from record companies), correspondence, photographs, concert programs and flyers. Articles and record reviews written by Don Bacon are noted; many include both the manuscript copy and the published version. The quantities of each type of record are indicated however these counts do not include either duplicate copies or drafts of an article or multiple copies of the same work that appeared in different publications. A complete issue of the Boston Ledger, where much of Bacon’s work was featured, was retained and can be found in the Sandy Berman folder (Series 1, folder 70). The contents of the six files of Liner Notes (Series 1, folders 646-651) are arranged alphabetically within their folders.

The correspondence and photographs, originally included within subject files, have been placed in separate storage. These items are listed separately in the Index to Correspondence and the Index to Photographs. While Don Bacon took a majority of the photographs, the collection includes a number of stock (publicity) photographs and photos taken by other local professional photographers (usually stamped on the reverse of the image). Negatives are stored separately in boxes 40 and 41 and their presence is noted in the Index to Photographs.


  • 1970-1997


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research by appointment. Advance notice is required for access because materials are stored offsite. Use of audiovisual materials may require production of listening or viewing copies.

Conditions Governing Use

Berklee College of Music holds the copyright to the writings, photographs and taped interviews created by Don Bacon. The College does not hold the copyright to the other records in this collection.

Biographical Note

Donald (Don) Bacon, a resident of Lowell MA, was born on February 27, 1933 in Bound Brook, New Jersey. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1951-1955 and in 1955 traveled to France, attending classes over the summer at the Sorbonne. In 1967 he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Language and Literature from the College of Liberal Arts, Boston University and later in 1973 a Master of Education, from the School of Education at the same institution. He was married to Lorraine Bacon and was the father of two children.

Bacon played drums off-and on through the late 1960’s; however his chief contribution to the jazz scene in New England was as a freelance journalist and photographer beginning around 1970. He wrote for several news organizations: the Boston Ledger (a cultural weekly newspaper), the Dispatch Times Publications (weekly newspapers in the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts), Imagine (a monthly newsmagazine published in Waterbury, Connecticut) and What’s New (a monthly entertainment magazine that circulates in Eastern Massachusetts). He had book reviews published in Jazz Echo and a cover story on Stephane Grappelli published in Coda. He was a cofounder and staff writer for the short-lived magazine Jazz New England (1974-1975).

Bacon also taught classes in jazz history at the University of Massachusetts/Lowell and at the New Hampshire Community Technical College in Nashua, NH. A tireless promoter of jazz in New England, Don had many friends in the jazz community with whom he kept up a lively correspondence. Through his activities as a journalist, photographer and jazz enthusiast Don Bacon chronicled jazz in New England for more than 25 years before he passed away on March 19, 1997.


14 Cubic Feet (25 hollinger boxes, 14 flat storage boxes, 1 small box of negatives)

Language of Materials


Processing Information

Processed by: Thomas R. Doyle; Updated & encoded by: Sofía Becerra-Licha

This online finding aid was encoded with support from the National Historical Publications Records Commission (NHPRC).


Donald Bacon papers, 1970-1997
Thomas R. Doyle; edited by Sofía Becerra-Licha
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
The digitization of this finding aid was funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).
Edition statement
Second edition

Repository Details

Part of the Berklee Archives Repository

Berklee College of Music
1140 Boylston St
Boston MA 02215 USA