Elbern H "Eddie" Alkire Personal Papers and Music Instrument Collection

Overview

Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Subject Terms

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Instruments and inventions

Publications, compositions and teaching methods

Business materials

Professional materials

Personal materials

Recordings

Photographs



Contact us about this collection

Finding Aid for Elbern H "Eddie" Alkire Personal Papers and Music Instrument Collection, 1926-1997 | The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music

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Collection Overview

Title: Elbern H "Eddie" Alkire Personal Papers and Music Instrument Collection, 1926-1997Add to your cart.View associated digital content.

ID: 12/9/101

Primary Creator: Alkire, Elbern H. (1907-1981)

Extent: 71.5 cubic feet

Date Acquired: 02/25/2006. More info below under Accruals.

Subjects: Music - United States, Photographs

Formats/Genres: Papers, Sheet music, Sound Recordings

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

Consists of original and published music, business records, correspondence, instructional guides and music examinations, programs, sound recordings, photographs, electrical and mechanical diagrams for several prototype Hawaiian guitars, music instrument catalogs, four original prototype Hawaiian guitars including the first 15-string acoustic guitar, Cruiser, Mini Surfer, and the experimental "Superaxe" guitar with 20 strings, 3 Epiphone Eharp 10-string electric guitars, and Alkire's original acoustic Hawaiian guitar that was used for 1000 radio broadcasts as director and lead guitarist of the Oahu Serenaders during the early 1930s. In addition the collection includes an original Rickenbacker Electro "Frying Pan" guitar. The papers and instruments document Eddie Alkire's career as a musician, music teacher, businessman and inventor. The collection also documents the evolution of Hawaiian guitar performance in America during its height of popularity between 1929 and 1960.

For more Hawaiian guitar materials, see RS 12/9/50 and RS 12/9/150.

Biographical Note

Elbern Homer "Eddie" Alkire (1907-1981) was America's most recognized performer, teacher, and innovator of the twentieth-century Hawaiian guitar. Eddie Alkire, the son of Bessie Alkire, was born on December 6, 1907 in Hacker's Valley, West Virginia. When he was five months old, his father was killed in a railroad accident and he was subsequently adopted and raised by his maternal grandparents, David Lee Alkire and Arminta Alkire (nee Lake). At the age of 16, his grandfather died leaving Eddie to manage the family grocery store. Sometime around 1921, Eddie began practicing the guitar and enrolled in a correspondence course created by the First Hawaiian Conservatory of Music, which was based in New York and New Jersey. In 1925, Eddie began working at a coal mine operated by Standard Supply Co. in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Soon after, he enrolled in an electrical engineering correspondence course, which he completed in less than a year. During this same year, Alkire performed guitar and tenor banjo for the first time on a radio station, W.M.M.N., which was located in Fairmont, West Virginia.

In 1929, Alkire moved to Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania in order to attend a technical night school. During this time, he was employed by the Westinghouse Electrical Company, where he built switch gear apparatuses and intended to become an electrical engineer. By chance, the Westinghouse building where he worked was located across the street from a local Hawaiian Guitar Shop and School. Members of the School tried to persuade him to abandon his pursuit of electrical engineering and to teach and perform at the school. He soon began playing on the school's Sunday radio hour sponsored by radio station K.Q.V.

In 1930, Alkire was persuaded to move to Cleveland, Ohio where he became a teacher and composer for the Oahu Music Company. Between 1930 and 1934, Alkire acted as the music director for the Oahu Serenaders, which performed on over 1000 coast-to-coast, nationally syndocated radio broadcasts on both N.B.C. and C.B.S. As a performer, Alkire experimented with new tunings that enabled him to play four-part harmonies and rapid melodic passages and as a result the Oahu Serenaders fostered a deep fan base. In 1934, Alkire married Margaret Hanzel, who suggested that he find a more stable career. That year, Alkire and his wife moved to Easton, Pennsylvania. It was here that Alkire created his own music publishing company. Building upon his own educational experiences and the publishing experience he gained from Oahu, Alkire created a series of progressive correspondence lessons that taught beginning and intermediate players how to play Hawaiian and Spanish guitar. His correspondence course would continue publishing learn-by-mail lessons well into the 1960s.

In 1936, Alkire utilized his knowledge of electrical engineering to create an experimental 15-string electric Hawaiian guitar. By 1939, he had solicited renowned electric guitar maker George Beauchamp to help him cast the first 10-string Hawaiian Guitar, which he called the E-Harp (pronounced ay-harp) and which Alkire officially patented in 1950. Near the end of his life, Alkire designed several guitar pedals and several other Hawaiian guitars including: The Mighty Mo, the Super Axe, the Mini Surfer, the Cruiser, and the Islander. Alkire died on January 25, 1981. He was inducted in the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame two years later in 1983.

Subject/Index Terms

Music - United States
Photographs

Administrative Information

Repository: The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music

Accruals: Claude Brownell performance audiocassettes donated by Dick Alkire on February 21, 2018.

Access Restrictions: None.

Acquisition Source: Richard Alkire

Acquisition Method: Gift.

Other Note: Pages


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Instruments and inventions],
[Series 2: Publications, compositions and teaching methods],
[Series 3: Business materials],
[Series 4: Professional materials],
[Series 5: Personal materials],
[Series 6: Recordings],
[Series 7: Photographs],
[All]

Series 5: Personal materialsAdd to your cart.
Sub-Series 1: Personal records and correspondenceAdd to your cart.
Material dating from the time before Elbern H. Alkire became employed by the Oahu Music Company and moved to Cleveland (ca. 1930)
Box 110Add to your cart.
Folder 18: International Correspondence Schools books, 1914Add to your cart.
Folder 19: International Correspondence Schools - electrical engineering exams, ca. 1920-29Add to your cart.
Box 113Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Autobiography of early yearsAdd to your cart.
Note from control file: "Written to obtain passport, since Alkire had no birth certificate"
Folder 2: Handwritten autobiographical notesAdd to your cart.
Folder 3: Pages cut from Eddie Alkire's diaryAdd to your cart.
Folder 4: Letters and milestonesAdd to your cart.
Folder 5: Pay slips from gate K-30, Westinghouse, 1929-30Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Fairview High School notebook (tab notations)Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Autograph bookAdd to your cart.
Folder 8: International Textbook Company books, 1926-27Add to your cart.
Folder 9: English and math night school classes, 1929Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Selective service, 1942Add to your cart.
Folder 11: Personal business, 1954Add to your cart.
Folder 12: Contacts, personal business, 1957Add to your cart.
Original container title: "Immediate attention"
Folder 13: Ka haawina HawaiiAdd to your cart.
Hawaiian language lesson
Folder 14: Newspaper articles, 1951-61Add to your cart.
Folder 15: Stenographer's notebook, 1955Add to your cart.
Folder 16: Handwritten electrical diagramsAdd to your cart.
Box 114Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Instructional Correspondence School papers - mathematics, 1926Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Electronics correspondence course notebook, 1929Add to your cart.
Folder 3: _Westinghouse Magazine_, 1929Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Instructional Correspondence School papers, 1932Add to your cart.
Folder 5: Historical personal correspondence, 1954-55Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Holiday correspondence, 1976-78Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Alkire quartette, haggard, etc.Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Eharp programsAdd to your cart.
Folder 9: Town Hall (New York) recital programs, 1950Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Cerebral Palsy benefit, 1951Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 2: Scrapbooks and memorabiliaAdd to your cart.
Box 112Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Concert poster (Astor, WV), 1956Add to your cart.
Folder 5: Scrapbook materials, 1937-41Add to your cart.
Box 114Add to your cart.
Folder 11: Scrapbook materials, 1935-39Add to your cart.
Folder 12: Scrapbook materials, 1940sAdd to your cart.
Folder 13: Scrapbook materials, 1946-48Add to your cart.
Folder 14: Scrapbook materials, 1945-49Add to your cart.
Folder 15: Scrapbook materials, 1949Add to your cart.
Folder 16: Scrapbook materials, 1950Add to your cart.
Folder 17: Scrapbook materials, 1951-53Add to your cart.
Folder 18: Scrapbook materials, 1955Add to your cart.
Folder 19: Scrapbook materialsAdd to your cart.
Note from control file: "_Fretted Instrument News_ May 23, 1939, program at Providence, RI where Alkire premiered his 10-string Eharp;"
Note from control file: "_Fretted Instrument Guild of America_, Sept-Oct. 1976, Notes on Alkire-Cuneo performance in Ashville, NC, where Alkire premiered the Mini-surfer, his last instrument"
Folder 20: Guide to the World's Fair in New York, 1940Add to your cart.
Box 115Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Scrapbook, ca. 1929-32Add to your cart.
Box 116Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Scrapbook, ca. 1932Add to your cart.
Box 117Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Scrapbook no. 3, 1934-37Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Scrapbook, ca. 1932-42Add to your cart.
Box 118Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Scrapbook no. 4, 1937-42Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Scrapbook no. 5, 1933-39Add to your cart.
Box 119Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Scrapbook no. 6, 1935-39Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Scrapbook no. 8, 1941-42Add to your cart.
Box 120Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Scrapbook no. 7, 1940Add to your cart.
Box 121Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Scrapbook no. 9, 1942-47Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Scrapbook no. 10, 1940-47Add to your cart.
Box 133Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Correspondence school machine diagrams, ca. 1929Add to your cart.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Instruments and inventions],
[Series 2: Publications, compositions and teaching methods],
[Series 3: Business materials],
[Series 4: Professional materials],
[Series 5: Personal materials],
[Series 6: Recordings],
[Series 7: Photographs],
[All]

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