CU-Boulder's Glenn Miller Archive Receives Second Major Gift in Two Years

September 25, 2008

The University of Colorado at Boulder's extensive archive of 1930s and 1940s big band-era great Glenn Miller has received its second major gift in the past two years with the addition of artifacts from former band member Paul Tanner.

A trombonist with Glenn Miller's civilian orchestra from 1938 to 1942, Tanner developed the Electro-Theremin, which he played on the Beach Boys song "Good Vibrations." He also was the lead trombonist for the American Broadcasting Company in Los Angeles and was a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Included in the collection are Miller's first trombone, which has been on permanent loan to the university since 1974, a set of cuff links and studs given to Tanner by Miller for Christmas in 1938, a sterling silver belt buckle given to Tanner by Miller for Christmas in 1939, several reels of video dating from the early 1940s to the 2000s, and several boxes of books, letters and RPM records.

"We have one of the most substantial and significant archives of Glenn Miller artifacts, and we are grateful to Paul Tanner for passing his wonderful collection on to CU-Boulder," said Alan Cass, founder and longtime curator of the American Music Research Center's Glenn Miller Archive on the CU-Boulder campus. "The rare films and photographs in the Tanner collection allow us a glimpse into the life of Glenn Miller."

In 2007, CU-Boulder received a substantial collection from the estate of the late Richard March, a member of the Glenn Miller Society in England. The March collection included several radio broadcasts and air checks that had never been circulated.

The Miller archive at CU-Boulder was created in 1969 by Cass, who is distantly related to Miller as a second cousin of his late wife Helen. What was once a small display case in a corner of the University Memorial Center now includes the first Gold Record ever given to a recording artist to signify the sale of more than 1 million records, two of his four trombones known to exist today, all of his studio recordings and thousands of photographs, posters and letters.

The collection also includes material from other big bands led by Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, the Dorsey Brothers, Artie Shaw, Shep Fields, Count Basie, Harry James and others.

Miller attended CU-Boulder in 1922-23, and though he did not graduate, he and his wife Helen, a CU alumna, always thought of Boulder and CU as home, Cass said.

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