On September 20th we filled the Library atrium with music from the 1930s (played on a Victrola discovered in the Watkinson), cleared away the furniture and potted plants, and did a little swing dancing.
This was the official opening of our “Jump and Jive” exhibition, celebrating the gift of over 5,000 sound recordings constituting the Bennett “Bud” Rubenstein collection of jazz, pop, and big band music.
The event was attended by more than 40 people from the campus, Hartford, and New Britain, and included Barbara “Bert” Rubenstein (the donor, and widow of the collector), and one of her three daughters.
Mrs. Rubenstein shared reminiscences of the era and of her husband’s passion for the music–both in terms of collecting and playing it. They both went to many clubs in the 1940s where the likes of Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller were playing, so it was a special treat to have her here to see how the collection will be cared for and appreciated for generations to come.
Members of the Hartford Underground (a local swing dance club) were on hand to show us some moves, and some of the students from Trinity’s own swing dance club (newly formed last year) joined in as well.
With the Rubenstein gift, the Watkinson now holds well over 10,000 sound recordings dating from the 1890s (wax cylinders) to the 1970s. The exhibition was curated by staffer Henry Arneth, who also serviced and repaired our Victrolas and gramophones so that we (and our patrons) can hear these recordings the way they were originally intended to be heard.
So the next time you pass our glass doors, don’t be surprised if you hear music and see us dancing!