Toward the end of 2018 the Resource Center was requested to assist with some research to assist author, Dave Hunter, in providing an overview of the history of guitars as they appeared at The NAMM Show. Working as a NAMM Archivist and Oral History Coordinator at the time, it was an exciting opportunity to spend some time in our extensive archives in NAMM headquarters looking for resources that demonstrated the growth of the guitar representation at The NAMM Show.
One of the first practices as an archivist looking to fulfill a research request is to narrow down the scope of the information that is being requested. Often broad questions are posed that would result in insurmountable amounts of information being collected and as a result, often the answers the researcher is looking to get lost in the shuffle. After communicating back and forth with Dave, we were able to establish the theme for his article and I was able to narrow down my search areas to a few key original documents.
The NAMM archives and those in charge of it throughout its tenure have done an excellent job of foreshadowing the importance of documenting the history of The NAMM Show and the organization as a whole. As a result, NAMM has amassed a unique, one of a kind collection of both corporate artifacts that chronicle NAMM since its inception in 1901 to an industry collection of irreplaceable artifacts that even many manufacturers, retailers, and other facets of the industry rely on to help “fill in the gaps” of their own corporate history. In the case of Dave Hunter’s request, I relief heavily upon what we affectionately call the “Bound Books”, a series of bound material that was kept throughout the pre-computer years at NAMM of marketing materials, pertinent Member information, and other vital documents. Within these Bound Books are items Dave found useful like old trade show directories which list every company present at a NAMM Show, attendance statistics, and in some cases, even square footage of booth (or in the early year, hotel room) sizes that companies utilized to showcase their merchandise.
After working closely with Dave, the team in the Resource Center was able to provide him with direction to help create a compelling account of the rise of guitars at The NAMM Show. I invite you to take a look at this article for a preview of some unique artifacts and photographs along with Dave’s narrative. https://guitar.com/features/opinion-analysis/namm-the-greatest-show-on-earth/
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Dan Del Fiorentino