LaBudde & Marr | About



Dr. Kenneth J. LaBuddeLaBudde Special Collections is a print archive and research center serving scholars and organizations from around the world. The department is made up of a rare book collection as well as individual collections of manuscript material known as archival collections.

The primary focus of the book collection is Western Americana, with an emphasis on Kansas and Missouri, but most subjects are represented to a certain degree. The archival collections are strong in music, especially Kansas City jazz, with emerging strengths in women’s and gender studies and popular culture. Additionally, the department has created several online exhibits, partnering with the Marr Sound Archives to curate multimedia projects and collections.

LaBudde Special Collections also serves as the home of the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America, a collecting initiative to document the histories of the LGBT communities in the Kansas City region.

LaBudde Special Collections was dedicated on September 22, 2002, in honor of Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde (1920-2000), Professor of History, who served as Director of UMKC Libraries from 1950 to 1985. Dr. LaBudde was instrumental in the building of the General Library, dedicated in 1969, and its completion as the Miller Nichols Library, dedicated in 1991. His comprehensive knowledge of history and Americana shaped the department's foundation collection, the Robert M. Snyder, Jr. Collection. He also selected material for the "Z" Collection, covering fine printing and the book arts, literature, architecture, and landscape design.



Gaylord Marr and Walter CronkiteMarr Sound Archives was established in 1986, with a foundation gift of 42,000 sound recordings from Gaylord Marr and his wife Olga. An Associate Professor of Communication Studies at UMKC, Marr pioneered the use of historic audio/visual recordings in the classroom. "Why talk about the political climate of Munich in Sept., 1938," Marr asked, "when students can hear the voices of the participants and newscasters on the spot, reporting events as they unfold?" The Sound Archives is named in Marr’s honor.

The collection quickly outgrew its original location in two rooms on the second floor of the General Library. When the library was renovated in 1992, Marr Sound Archives moved to the ground floor, adjacent to the Music/Media Library. Its spacious new home and the 2010 construction of the "RooBot", an automated storage and retrieval system, allowed for continued growth.

Today the collection has grown to number over 350,000 recordings, with a focus on the American experience as reflected in recorded sound. The collection features a wide variety of music genres including jazz, blues, soul, country, popular music, rock and roll, folk, classical and opera. In addition, historic voices and authors reading their own works and vintage radio programs make up a large part of the collection. The holdings encompass a wide range of historic formats including LPs, 78s, 45s, cylinders, transcription discs, instantaneous-cut discs and open-reel tapes.

Marr Sound Archives serves the students, faculty, and staff of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, as well as local community members and scholarly researchers around the globe. Over the years, Marr Sound Archives has contributed recording and reference services to a number of projects including Robert Altman’s Kansas City, Merchant-Ivory Films’ Mr. and Mrs. Bridge; Capitol Records 50th Anniversary; a complete reissue of the recordings of Julia Lee on the Bear Family label of Germany; documentaries on the Kansas City Monarchs, Walter Cronkite and Harry Truman; the radio show This I Believe; and the Mississippi Blues Trails.


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LaBudde Special Collections & Marr Sound Archives
Miller Nichols Library | University of Missouri-Kansas City

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