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 7: PhotographsAdd to your cart.
Box 131Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Eddie Alkire wtih performing groupsAdd to your cart.
Folder 2: Eddie Alkire publicity photographsAdd to your cart.
Folder 3: Early performing groupsAdd to your cart.
Folder 4: Kress, Ricci, Haggert, quartet (Modern Hawaiians)Add to your cart.
Folder 5: Oahu Serenaders publicity photographs, 1932-34Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Eddie Alkire Hawaiian Quartet (Easton, PA), Late 30sAdd to your cart.
Folder 7: Eddie Alkire with Ed Jr., 1952Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Red Moser instrument photographsAdd to your cart.
Folder 9: Eddie Alkire with instrumentsAdd to your cart.
Folder 10: Eddie Alkire, ca. 1939-41Add to your cart.
Folder 11: Eddie Alkire with instrumentsAdd to your cart.
Folder 12: Eddie Alkire publicity photographs with instrumentsAdd to your cart.
Folder 13: Hawaiian guitaristsAdd to your cart.
Folder 14: Harry Stanley, Francis BrownAdd to your cart.
Folder 15: Eddie Alkire and family with "Salty" Holmes, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 16: Eddie Alkire, Harry Volpe, Peter Vournas (et al.), 1941Add to your cart.
Folder 17: Eddie Alkire Publications publicity and building photographsAdd to your cart.
Folder 18: Eddie Alkire with Frank Brown, 1976Add to your cart.
Folder 19: Eddie Alkire receiving lifetime achievement award, 1961Add to your cart.
Folder 20: Eddie Alkire at conventionsAdd to your cart.
Folder 21: Teachers' conference, ca. 1940Add to your cart.
Original container label: Alkire teacher conference on steps of Wolf School, 100 feet north of 75 N. 2nd Street house, Easton
Folder 22: Eddie Alkire receiving the Gretsch Trophy, 1940Add to your cart.
Box 132Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Eddie Alkire and students with Gibson 8-string, ca. 1938Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Eharp students, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 3: Eharp and guitar studentsAdd to your cart.
Folder 4: Eharp students, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 5: Eharp students, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 6: Eharp students, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 7: Clipped photographs - guitaristsAdd to your cart.
Folder 8: Guitarists, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 9: Guitarists and banjoistsAdd to your cart.
Folder 10: Performing ensemblesAdd to your cart.
Folder 11: Performing ensemblesAdd to your cart.
Folder 12: American Guild of Music conventionsAdd to your cart.
Folder 13: Musical groupsAdd to your cart.
Folder 14: Radio actsAdd to your cart.
Folder 15: Radio actsAdd to your cart.
Folder 16: Radio actsAdd to your cart.
Folder 17: Photographs used in _The Hawaiian Guitarist_, 1933-34Add to your cart.
Folder 18: InventionsAdd to your cart.
Box 133Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Oversized photographsAdd to your cart.
MapCabinet 3Add to your cart.
MapDrawer 1Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Oversized and panoramic photographsAdd 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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