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Teddy McRae Papers


Teddy McRae Papers
McRae, Teddy
Collection number:
0.50 Linear Feet
Bulk dates:
Inclusive dates:
Collection Area:
Special Collections in Performing Arts
Special Collections in Performing Arts, Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742. Contact the curator:

Theodore "Teddy" McRae (1908-1999), nicknamed Mr. Bear, was a tenor saxophone player, arranger and composer. He worked with numerous bandleaders througout his career, including Chick Webb, Charlie Johnson, Elmer Snowden, Stuff Smith, and Lil Armstrong, Benny Morton, Artie Shaw, and Louis Armstrong. In addition he composed two successful tunes, "Back Bay Shuffle" in 1938 and "Traffic Jam" in 1939. In the late1950s, McRae formed Enrica Records and the production company Rae-Cox Records with Eddie Wilcox. This collection contains professional documents from Teddy McRae's personal papers during his time as an independent musician as well as professional documents from his work with the recording companies Enrica and Rae-Cox Records.

Important Information for Users of the Collection


The collection is open for research use.

Preferred citation:

Teddy McRae Papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Publication rights:

Materials from this collection must be used in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library's Irving and Margery Morgan Lowens Special Collections Room, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Contact the curator for an appointment:


This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

Theodore "Teddy" McRae, nicknamed Mr. Bear, was born in Waycross, Georgia on January 22, 1908 and raised in Philadelphia. He began studying medicine, but in 1928 switched to music and organized a family band to perform locally with his brothers. McRae played the tenor saxophone, was an arranger and a composer.

In the early 1930's, McRae worked with bandleaders Chick Webb, Charlie Johnson, Elmer Snowden, Stuff Smith, and Lil Armstrong and in 1934, recorded with Benny Morton. Between 1936 and 1939, McRae was a part of Chick Webb's band. When Webb died in 1939, McRae became music director while Ella Fitzgerald led the band. During that time, he also composed two successful tunes, "Back Bay Shuffle" in 1938 and "Traffic Jam" in 1939.

In 1943, McRae worked as staff arranger for Artie Shaw and then as music director of Louis Armstrong's big band from 1944-1945. After his work with Louis Armstrong's band, McRae played with small jazz groups and primarily worked as a freelance arranger.

In the late 1950's, he formed Enrica Records and production company Rae-Cox Records with Eddie Wilcox which produced albums including "Bennie Green Swings the Blues" and Edmund Hall's "Rumpus on Rampart Street."

McRae and his wife, Fredist, raised three sons, Theodore, Jr., Robert, and Howard, and five daughters, Freda Staton, Norma McRae, Mattina Whitehead-Hamilton, Ethel Newbold and Lavonia Reeves-Bailey. Teddy McRae died March 4, 1999 at the age of 91 from natural causes.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Teddy McRae Papers span the period from April 5, 1940 to July 31, 1981. The collection contains correspondence, contracts, rights, transfers, releases, legal documents, and sheet music related to his time as an independent musician and his work with recording companies, Rae-Cox Records Incorporated and Enrica Records Incorporated.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Purchase made by Bruce Wilson (former head, Performing Arts Library) from the Charles Apfelbaum Company. Purchased in 1999.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by Caitlyn Callahan, October 2007

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Colleen McKnight, November 2007; updated by Amanda May, July 2013.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Correspondence, 1954-1981 (1 Folder)

This series contains one folder containing Teddy McRae's personal correspondence with music publishers, music copyright companies, and recording companies. Materials date from January 29, 1954- July 15, 1981 and are arranged chronologically.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Correspondence, 1954-1981 series 1box 1folder 1

Series 2: Enrica Records Incorporated, 1957-1981 (2 Folders)

This series contains two folders with artist contracts and recording agreements of jazz and gospel musicians made with Enrica Records Incorporated from 1957-1981, arranged chronologically.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Enrica Records Incorporated: Artist Contracts and Recording Agreements -- 1 of 2, 1957-1962 series 2box 1folder 2
Enrica Records Incorporated: Artist Contracts and Recording Agreements -- 2 of 2, 1966-1981 series 2box 1folder 3

Series 3: Rae-Cox Records Incorporated, 1947-1981 (3 Folders)

This series of three folders contains professional documents from Rae-Cox Records Incorporated. Two folders hold recording agreements between Rae-Cox Records Incorporated and musicians from January 1947-March 1981. One folder contains correspondence with such artists as Buster Newman and Angelo Gambino.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Rae-Cox Records Incorporated: Recording Agreements -- 1 of 2, 1947-1964 series 3box 1folder 4
Rae-Cox Records Incorporated: Recording Agreements -- 2 of 2, 1964-1981 series 3box 1folder 5
Rae-Cox Records Incorporated: Correspondence, 1961-1963 series 3box 1folder 6

Series 4: Rank Records International, Inc, 1959-1961 (1 Folder)

This series contains one folder with correspondence between Teddy McRae and various recording companies such as Festival Records, Top Rank Records, Durium, Quality Records Limited, and mainly Rank Records dated from September 16, 1959 to June 29, 1961. This series has been kept in its original order.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Rank Records, New York, 1959-1961 series 4box 1folder 7

Series 5: Contracts, Rights, Transfers, Releases, 1940-1969 (1 Folder)

This series contains one folder with various legal documents such as contracts, rights, transfers, and releases. Included is an official release to Screamin' Jay Hawkins. Materials date from April 1940-April 1969 and are arranged chronologically.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Contracts, Rights, Transfers, Releases, 1940-1969 series 5box 1folder 8

Series 6: Distributors, 1959-1960 (1 Folder)

This series contains correspondence between prospective distributors and Teddy McRae's recording companies: Enrica Records Inc. and Rae-Cox Records Inc. Materials are arranged chronologically from July 10, 1959- August 2, 1960.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Distributors, Prospective, 1959-1960 series 6box 1folder 9

Series 7: Sheet Music, 1935-1984 and undated (2 Folders)

This series contains original compositions, published sheet music, and legal documentation.

Subseries 7.1: Original compositions and contributions, 1935-1984 (1 Folder)

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Original Compositions Sheet Music, 1935-1984series 7.1box 1folder 10

Subseries 7.2: Client (some with legal documentation), 1958-1972 and undated (1 Folder)

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Client Sheet Music and Rights, 1958-1972 and undatedseries 7.2box 1folder 11

Related Material

The following recordings of Teddy McRae's music are available at the University of Maryland, Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library:

For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.

Selected Search Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Maryland Libraries' Catalog. Researchers desiring related materials about these topics, names, or places may search the Catalog using these headings.


Names (Added Entries)