Research Catalog

Thomas McKee papers

Title
Thomas McKee papers, 1890-1933.
Author
McKee, Thomas.
Supplementary Content
Finding Aid

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StatusVol/DateFormatAccessCall NumberItem Location
Box 1Mixed materialSupervised use JPB 06-48 Box 1Offsite
Box 2Mixed materialSupervised use JPB 06-48 Box 2Offsite
Box 3Mixed materialSupervised use JPB 06-48 Box 3Offsite

Details

Additional Authors
Description
3.08 linear feet (3 boxes )
Subjects
Genre/Form
  • Clippings.
  • Design patents.
  • Correspondence.
  • Manuscripts.
Biography (note)
  • Inventor Thomas McKee was a citizen of Great Britain who lived in Portland, Oregon and New York City during the early 1900s and received two patents relating to automatic player pianos.
Indexes/Finding Aids (note)
  • Collection guide available in repository and on internet.
Call Number
JPB 06-48
OCLC
122687172
Author
McKee, Thomas.
Title
Thomas McKee papers, 1890-1933.
Summary
The Thomas McKee papers contain materials related to his player piano patents and his attempts to promote his designs through a proposed publication, The Language of Music. In addition to containing the two-volume draft of the manuscript, the collection also includes correspondence, patents, clippings, and publicity materials. Of particular interest is the correspondence related to McKee's attempts to gain funding for his patents and book. Correspondents include Carroll Brent Chilton, whose writings provide context for McKee's own work. Correspondence with player piano roll businesses provides some detail into the creation and business of automatic player pianos. In addition, there also is correspondence between McKee and the associates of numerous businessmen, musicians, and philanthropists, including Irving Berlin, Douglas Fairbanks, Henry Ford, and Otto H. Kahn, whom McKee apparently hoped to interest in his designs.
Biography
Inventor Thomas McKee was a citizen of Great Britain who lived in Portland, Oregon and New York City during the early 1900s and received two patents relating to automatic player pianos. The first of these patents was United States Patent 1,398,107, which primarily concerned the operation of perforated sheet music for automatic player pianos. The second patent was United States Patent 1,580,438, which involved the device that maneuvered the perforated piano sheet music through the piano. Though not a musician and apparently unable to read music, McKee wrote a book titled The Language of Music, which utilized research materials, including those obtained from Carroll Brent Chilton. McKee had been in contact with Chilton, a member of the Audible Music Text Society and the Aeolian Company, as well as the author of The De-Assification of Music (1922) since the 1920s. McKee's own book described how music was inaccessible to those not trained in music and then explained how a new player piano could become a teaching tool for the masses. The book also served as a business prospectus designed to present his new designs for the player piano and solicit interest in his designs. His attempts were apparently unsuccessful. In 1932, McKee wrote several letters attempting to interest buyers in "Vit-O-Weat" and "Wole-O-Weat" cereals sealed and then cooked in their cans in order to preserve minerals and chemical elements.
Indexes
Collection guide available in repository and on internet.
Connect to:
Occupation
Inventors.
Added Author
Berlin, Irving, 1888-1989.
Chilton, Carroll Brent.
Fairbanks, Douglas, 1883-1939.
Ford, Henry, 1863-1947.
Kahn, Otto H., 1867-1934.
McKee, Thomas. Language of music.
Research Call Number
JPB 06-48
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