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Graham Washington Jackson, Sr. papers

Identifier: aarl89-004

Scope and Content Note

Presently, the collection consists of 27 boxes of varied materials and includes correspondence, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, photographs, audio and video tape recordings, long-playing albums, and periodical articles and books which provide information on Graham W. Jackson, Sr. These materials provide a well-rounded history of the life of Jackson. Several boxes of the collection contain music and books which belonged to Graham W. Jackson Sr.


  • 1880-1990
  • 1957


Restrictions on Use

There are no restrictions on research use of this collection.

Copyright Restrictions

Prior permission from the Research Library must be obtained in writing before any portion of this collection can be published or reproduced.

Historical Sketch

Graham W. Jackson, Sr. was born in Portsmouth, Virginia in 1903 to Graham Washington Jackson and Pauline Hinton Jackson. His mother was a talented vocalist and musician. Graham W. Jackson, Sr. exhibited musical talent as early as age three and was recognized as a prodigy because of his ability to master virtually any instrument without instruction. Excelling on both the piano and organ, Jackson was giving concerts while in high school. With the assistance of a well-to-do patron, he had hoped to go to college to further his studies. The unexpected death of the patron, Dr. King, destroyed Jackson's hope of going to college. Graham W. Jackson, Sr. continued performing and began touring which led him to Atlanta, Georgia in 1923. Here he found opportunities not only to perform in such places as Atlanta's Royal Theater and Bailey's "81" but also to attend Morehouse College. Graham Jackson's desire for education eventually led him to Chicago Music College, Hampton Institute, Loyola University, and Atlanta University. In 1928 Graham W. Jackson, Sr. accepted an appointment to Washington High School as head of the music department. He held this position until 1940. During these 12 years Jackson continued performing in and out of Atlanta, often for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Jackson enlisted in the United States Navy May 16, 1942 and was discharged September 8, 1945. He was given numerous citations for his service to our country in helping to raise over three million dollars worth of Bonds and for recruiting for the Navy. In 1945 Jackson became a national symbol of the grief felt over the passing of Franklin D. Roosevelt. A picture of Jackson playing the accordion and weeping as the body of Roosevelt left the Little White House in Warm Springs, Georgia was published in Life magazine. Throughout his lifetime people would remember Jackson from this picture and his association with Roosevelt. Besides performing for and being known as the favorite musician of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Graham W. Jackson, Sr. has tributes too numerous to list here. He did perform for a total of seven consecutive presidents and was designated the "Official Musician of the State of Georgia." From 1940 until his passing on January 15, 1983, Graham W. Jackson, Sr. was self-employed and made his living through his Music Studio, giving concerts, and personal appearances. Jackson was also an organist for the St. Paul of the Cross Catholic Church and a choir director and organist for the First Congregational Church, Atlanta, Georgia. He is remembered by many for his performances at Johnny Reb's Dixieland and Pittypat's Porch, two Atlanta restaurants. Graham W. Jackson, Sr. was married to Helen Balton Jackson. The couple had two sons, Graham W. Jackson, Jr. and Gerald Wayne Jackson.


20.5 Linear feet




The collection consists of papers of Graham Washington Jackson, Sr. from 1880-1990. The papers include correspondence, newspaper articles, scrapbooks, photographs, slides, and printed material documenting Jackson's musical performances and awards. Notable correspondents include Jimmy Carter, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, William Hartsfield, and John Kennedy. The collection also contains audio and video recordings, albums, music manuscripts, sheet music, and Jackson's paintings. The photographs include performances at the Little White House; with the Roosevelts, Lester Maddox, or other individuals and settings; and promotional photographs with various personalities.


  1. I. Personal Papers, 1923-1988.
  2. II. Newspaper Clippings, 1940-1990.
  3. III. Memorabilia, 1958-1971.
  4. IV. Scrapbooks, 1962-1983.
  5. V. Periodicals/Articles, 1925-1978.
  6. VI. Books Which Contain Information on Graham W. Jackson, Sr.
  7. VII. [Plaques and Photographs].
  8. VIII. [Audio-Visual Materials], 1945-1972.
  9. IX. [Music]
  10. X. [Books-Music], 1900-1977.
  11. XI. [Books], 1880-1975.
  12. XII. Oversize, 1923-1973.


The original Graham W. Jackson, Sr. Collection was obtained in 1989 and consisted of a single box of materials. In 1994 the collection was greatly supplemented with the addition of several boxes.

Separated Material

The archive also possesses an accordion which belonged to Graham W. Jackson, Sr.

Miller, Richard Roscoe. Slavery and Catholicism. Durham, N.C.: North State Publishers, 1957. This book, originally located in Box 22, has been taken out of the Graham W. Jackson collection and placed in the rare book collection.
Inventory of the Graham Washington Jackson, Sr. Papers aarl89-004 aarl89-004
Finding aid prepared by Finding aid prepared by Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History
2004 September 15
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African-American Culture and History Repository

101 Auburn Avenue NE
Atlanta GA 30303