Sedalia Ragtime Archive
          dedicated to the genius of Scott Joplin and the American Music History he made in Sedalia 

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Sedalia Ragtime Archive


“Do not play this piece fast. It is never right to play Ragtime fast.”

                                                                                                         Scott Joplin

One year ago on January 6, 2015, The Sedalia Heritage Foundation took interim ownership of the collection of materials received from the State Fair Community College (SFCC). It is now known as the Sedalia Ragtime Archive Project and it is operating under the conditions set forth in an agreement.

With apologies to Scott Joplin, the Archives Project has not heeded his Classic Ragtime admonition to not go fast. In fact the Project’s tempo has been more like Dave Jasen’s Rip Roarin’ Rompin’ Stompin’ ragtime than Joplin’s classic pace. After years of inactivity, this small collection of ragtime documents and memorabilia is again receiving the attention and respect it deserves. After all, it chronicles no less than the beginning of one of the most formative periods in music history and the legacy of a community intent on preserving and commemorating that heritage. It’s all about Sedalia, a place where America’s music began.

The Proposed Ownership Transfer document submitted to SFCC on September 2, 2014 outlined a two-year period during which the Sedalia Heritage Foundation would achieve the following goals:

1. Secure the collection.

2. Organize the collection into appropriate categories.

3. Archivally stabilize and conserve the individual elements of the collection.

4. Digitally record the major elements of the collection.

5. Create a digital index of the collection.

6. Arrange for the permanent archival storage of the collection.

7. Build informative public exhibits from the collection.

8. Make the collection available for research and assist with public inquiries.

9. Produce useful research publications related to the collection.

10. Create a link with other ragtime archives and related organizations.

11. Coordinate the Archive Project with other Sedalia ragtime and arts organizations.

12. Create a long-term administrative process for the perpetuation of the collection.

This report is thus submitted outlining the progress toward achieving these goals.


On January 6, 2015 the Archive ownership was transferred from State Fair Community College to the Sedalia Heritage Foundation under a two-year interim arrangement.1 The collection is in a donated, climate-controlled unit at Bast Storage 108 E. Pacific Street in Sedalia. Items being processed are at the KATY Depot, 600 E. 3rd, Sedalia or at the Melton home at 9 Park Lane in Union, Missouri. Items designated rare are in a safe deposit box in a Sedalia Bank.


The collection has been organized into the following categories:

1. Ragtime music history and influence

2. Non-Ragtime Sedalia

3. Ragtime origins in Sedalia 1890’s

4. Scott Joplin

5. Sedalia’s Classic Ragtime Composers, Compositions & Publishers

6. Treemonisha

7. The A.W. Perry & Sons Music Company

8. Major Ragtime Composers, Performers and Personalities

9. Sedalia Ragtime Commemorations to 1970

10. Preparations for the 1974 Festival

11. The 1974-5 Scott Joplin Ragtime Festivals

12. The 1983 Joplin First Day Stamp Cancellation Activity

13. 1983-present Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festivals

(Organized by Year)

14. Festival Recordings

15. General Sheet Music

16. Ragtime, RR and Sedalia Sheet Music

17. Ragtime Related Piano Rolls

18. Ragtime Records

19. Ragtime Audio Reel-to-Reel Tapes, Cassettes & CD’s

20. Ragtime Video and DVD’s

21. Ragtime Related Books

22. Ragtime Related Periodicals

23. The SFCC Archive

24. Other Ragtime Archives and Events


Materials in the collection considered to be in the most unstable condition are about 80% completed with the Treemonisha Score, Ireland Clarinet and Maple Leaf Club Card still needing attention. Over half of the festival documents are conserved. Audio recordings remain to be digitally converted and originals conserved and the record collection needs permanent conservation. The large sheet music collection is 90% conserved and the remaining elements are about three-fifths completed.

This is the most time consuming of the goals and 100% conservation should be possible within three years at the current rate of completion. As long as sufficient progress is being made, this element will not have to be completed within the two-year interim period for permanent transfer to take place if item 12 has been accomplished.


This is also a labor-intensive process. The document collection is well over half completed however, equipment needs to be procured to properly digitalize the recordings. The extensive record collection has been preliminarily indexed. The public use of the digital materials will be regulated by copyright and trademark restrictions as well as and fair-use requirements for educational purposes.

5. INDEX THE COLLECTION (40% Completed)

The indexing process is still undergoing change as more and more materials are processed. However the document collection is well over half completed and the remainder of the collection will be indexed by the end of 2016.


(Temporarily arranged for the immediate future)

The collection is adequately stored for the interim period both in terms of facility and in terms of actual uniform archival containers being used for that storage.

7. BUILD EXHIBITS (5% Completed)

As the collection is conserved and digitalized, items appropriate for two exhibits are being assembled:

1. Sedalia in the Ragtime Era – the 1890’s at the KATY Depot will use ten display cases

in the museum area to depict the following areas of life and activity that attracted Joplin to the city and from which he benefitted:

A. Collection of Sedalia Images in the 1890’s

B. The Politics of Sedalia including the Capital Removal Campaign

C. The Establishment of the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia in 1901

D. Railroads in Sedalia

E. A.W. Perry Music Publishing in Sedalia

F. Business & Commerce in Sedalia

1. Sedalia in the Ragtime Era – the 1890’s (Continued)

G. Education in Sedalia

H. Entertainment in Sedalia

I. Music Business in Sedalia

J. Domestic Life in Sedalia

2. Sedalia, a Place Where America’s Music Began – at the Liberty Center with consist of

six enclosed display cases depicting the evolution of America’s music from 1899 as follows:

A. The WAMB Logo and the Joplin/Stark Contract

B. The commercial evolution of popular music in its various forms

C. The Musical development of Classic Ragtime

D. Other musical forms evolved out of Classic Ragtime

E. Ragtime milestones in 20th Century

F. Sedalia commemorations and the SJIRF


items processed; 15% Completed on New Projects)

1. A 4th Grade Teaching Unit on Sedalia and Classic Ragtime is being developed hopefully to be piloted in the fall of 2016 in Sedalia schools. It will then be offered to other Missouri schools as a unit in the required 4th grade Missouri history curriculum.

2. A website is being developed to publically promote the Archive Project to:

A. Make the collection index available and promote the collection itself

B. Provide a linkage with other ragtime-related archive collections and events, C. and finally, to afford a mechanism for offering-educational information about

Sedalia ragtime through a regular blog.


The following publications have been produced from research-inspired and facilitated by the Archive collection:

1. “The Other Sedalia Maple Leaf Composition” A background on Florence

Johnson’s 1897 “Maple Leaf Waltz” published by the A.W. Perry and Sons Music Company.

2. “Tom Ireland’s Clarinet” traces Tom Ireland’s ragtime role and his long life as a revered resident of Sedalia.

3. A research report on Daniel and William McCabe for family descendants (that will be the basis for a third Research Publication in 2016.)

4. A fourth research project currently in progress will trace Sedalia’s effort to

acquire the Missouri State Capital in the mid-1890’s during the ragtime era.


This project is only in the formative stages. Contacts with other ragtime archives and organizations will be made when the Archive web site goes on-line.


A process toward this goal began on October 29, 2015 when representatives from the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival (SJIRF), the Sedalia Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and the Liberty Center for the Arts Association (LCAA) met with the SHF Executive Director and the SRA Coordinator to discuss this possible confederation. (The staff later met with a representative of the Sedalia Downtown Merchants Assoc. (SDMA) to discuss the loan of SDMA materials to the SRA for exhibition purposes. (A further meeting will be pursued with the Pettis County Historical Society and the Sedalia Public Library.) Further talks toward this end will take place during 2016. However, cooperative efforts are already taking place as follows:

1. The SRA staff assisted with a CVB marketing presentation on “Sedalia, as a place where America’s Music Began” produced by Madden Media, a two-way cooperative effort.

2. The SRA staff assisted a SJIRF member with an interactive ragtime activity for the Daum Museum.

3. The SRA staff assisted the CVB in developing a Tourism “Footsteps of Ragtime” Guide to Sedalia for Spring 2016 publication.

4. The Festival’s History Video Project of the SRA will be providing veteran performers and symposia presenters for the 2016 SJIRF.

5. The SRA staff assisted the SJIRF in creating the 2016 Festival logo and theme.

6. The SRA will be developing an inaugural exhibit for the LCAA renovation in the Spring of 2016 on the impact of Joplin’s Classic Ragtime on America’s music.

7. The SRA is processing the SJIRF records to integrate into the Archive collection.

8. The SHF-SRA produced an ad for the 2015 SJIRF program and assisted with the

annual donor’s party at the KATY Depot and the Depot was used during the festival as a free entertainment venue. The SHF also produced a program on Sedalia in the 1890’s on Friday evening of the Festival. Similar activities are

planned for 2016.

9. Past and present SJIRF board members made SRA contacts and presentations at the West Coast Ragtime Festival in Sacramento in November.


This is an area that will require action in the coming year on the part of the Heritage Foundation (SHF) consulting with the Executive Director and the Archive Coordinator. Based on the SFCC abrogation of ownership experience, the most critical elements will be:

1. The establishment of a permanent coordinator’s position

2. Acquisition or designation of a permanent storage facility

3. Creation of a process for continued, dependably stable funding for the Project

4. An arrangement needs to be negotiated whereby the ownership of the collection is

transferred to an appropriate and reputably established institution in the event of future default on the part of the SHF as determined by a specified person or group so designated.

Finally the Sedalia Ragtime Archive Project most gratefully acknowledges the generous financial support in the form of grants from the Jenny Jaynes Foundation and the Sedalia Area Tourism Commission, a generous donation from Bill and Nancy Moss, anonymous donors and the unwavering support of the Sedalia Heritage Foundation and its Executive Director and staff and backing them, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Without this assistance, the collection would likely no longer exist, funding would not have been forthcoming, labor and facilities would not have been provided and most significantly, the inspiration and enthusiasm provided by the SHF and staff would not have provided the motivation necessary to undertake this vital project and the world might soon have forgotten that Sedalia is a place where America’s music began.

Submitted by L.C. Melton

December 31, 2015