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Mary Church Terrell Main Library
148 W College St. Oberlin, OH 44074-1545


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The James R. and Susan Neumann Jazz Collection

History of the Collection

James (Jim) R. Neumann is a business owner, jazz enthusiast, and active collector. Neumann is a 1958 graduate of Oberlin College, where he was a part of the campus Jazz Club, bringing to the college such performers as Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck, Woody Herman, Count Basie, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Duke Ellington, and Stan Kenton.

He also hosted a jazz radio show – “Jazz Hot and Cool” – on the campus station WOBC.

After graduating from Oberlin and spending time in the U.S. Armed Forces, Neumann returned home to Chicago to begin working at New Metal Crafts, a family business that manufactures fine-lighting products. At the same time, Neumann began intentionally building his nascent collection of jazz recordings and memorabilia. Over the course of more than five decades, Neumann has amassed what is possibly the largest private collection of jazz-related material in the world.

In addition to collecting, Neumann and his wife Susan Neumann founded Bee Hive Records in 1977. The company recorded and released 17 jazz albums between 1977 and 1984, featuring musicians including Pepper Adams, Curtis Fuller, Clifford Jordan, Nick Brignola, and Johnny Hartman.

Neumann continues actively collecting today from his residence in the Chicago area.