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Teddy McRae papers

 Collection 0048-SCPA
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.


  • 1940-1981
  • Majority of material found within 1954-1979

Use and Access to Collection

The collection is open for research use.

Duplication and Copyright Information

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:


0.50 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of 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.


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

In the early 1930s, 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.


This collection has been divided into seven series.
  1. Correspondence
  2. Enrica Records Incorporated
  3. Rae-Cox Records Incorporated
  4. Rank Records International, Inc
  5. Contracts, Rights, Transfers, Releases
  6. Distributors
  7. Sheet Music

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

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

Related Material

The following recordings of Teddy McRae's music are available at the University of Maryland's Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library:
  1. Hollywood Swing and Jazz, sound recording of "Traffic Jam" played by Artie Shaw and his Orchestra. Call number: MCD 8682
  2. The Complete Artie Shaw, sound recording of "Traffic Jam" played by Artie Shaw and his Orchestra. Call number: M1356.C6442
Teddy McRae papers
Caitlyn Callahan
October 2007
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Library Details

Part of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library

University of Maryland Libraries
8270 Alumni Drive
College Park MD 20742 United States