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The Wouter Keesing collection on Fats Domino and New Orleans R&B

 Collection 0070-SCPA

Antoine "Fats" Domino, Jr., (b. New Orleans, LA, February 26, 1928; d. Harvey, LA, October 24, 2017) was an iconic figure in the history of rock 'n' roll in the United States. The peak of his career took place in the 1950s, but he was actively involved in the music industry for most of his life. Renowned as a pianist and singer-songwriter, some of Fats Domino's greatest hits include "Blueberry Hills" (1956) and "Ain't That A Shame" (1955). This collection has been separated into six series containing magazines, books, newspaper clippings, realia, ephemera, personal materials, recordings, and sheet music relating to Fats Domino, as well as Imperial Records, Smiley Lewis, New Orleans jazz and R&B, and the research materials of Wouter Keesing. It covers the years 1952 to 1998.


  • 1952-1998
  • Majority of material found within 1952-1960, 1978-1996

Use and Access to Collection

The collection is open for research use. 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:

Duplication and Copyright Information

Copyright was not transferred with the donation of the materials; all rights remain with the creators and rights holders.


10.50 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Wouter Keesing collection on Fats Domino and New Orleans R&B covers the period from 1952 to 1998, with the bulk of the material coming from 1952 to 1960 and 1978 to 1996. The collection contains realia, ephemera, recordings, sheet music, books, periodicals, newspaper clippings, discographies, correspondence, personal records, and research notes related to Fats Domino and New Orleans R&B. There are also significant materials on Smiley Lewis and Imperial Records, as well as ample sources on Dave Bartholomew, Larry Williams, Professor Longhair (Henry “Roy” Byrd), Huey Smith, Earl King, and Bobby Marchan, among others. The series contains clipped articles and notes on material by John Broven, Rick Coleman, Michel Ruppli, and Jeff Hannusch (Almost Slim). Wouter Keesing's records also contain limited materials on Vietnam War recordings.


[See finding aid for the Hugo Keesing collection on popular music and culture for information on Hugo Keesing]

Antoine "Fats" Domino, Jr., was an R&B pianist and singer. He was born on February 26, 1928 in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the youngest of eight children. Domino began playing piano when he was ten years old, with some initial instruction provided by his brother-in-law and local musician, Harrison Verrett. Domino worked a series of jobs while playing small gigs in New Orleans, during which he gained his monikers “Fats” and “The Fat Man” from musician Billy Diamond, who compared him to pianists Fats Waller and Fats Pichon.

Lew Chudd, the founder of Imperial Records, and musician/arranger Dave Bartholomew saw Domino perform in 1949 while scouting talent, and signed him to his first record deal. Bartholomew helped Domino add new lyrics to his version of “The Junker's Blues”; the new song was recorded for Imperial as “The Fat Man” and is widely regarded as one of the first rock 'n' roll songs to sell over one million copies. Fats Domino went on to record extensively for Imperial until 1963, producing at least 35 singles that made it into the U.S. Billboard Top 40 chart. Domino was among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. He died at his home in Harvey, Louisiana on October 24, 2017.

New Orleans has been the home or birthplace of numerous R&B artists such as Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, Smiley Lewis, Huey Smith, Dave Bartholomew, and Roy Brown. Because of its history as both a port city and a French and Spanish colony, New Orleans had a level of cultural diversity not commonly found in the rest of the United States in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Musicians from this region were familiar with a variety of musical styles, the blending of which contributed to the distinctive sound of New Orleans R&B.

Wouter Keesing, born in the Netherlands, developed an early interest in Fats Domino and began collecting records and memorabilia related to the musician. His personal collection expanded to include other New Orleans R&B artists, record labels, and producers recording music in the 1950s and 1960s. While practicing law in the Philadelphia area, Wouter Keesing contributed to two major discographies published by Bear Family Records on Smiley Lewis and Fats Domino, respectively. Before his death in 1996, he had been compiling a discography for Larry Williams.


This collection is organized into six series

  1. Series 1: Realia
  2. Series 2: Ephemera
  3. Series 3: Sheet Music
  4. Series 4: Recordings
  5. Series 5: Publications
  6. Series 6: Research

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Gift of Mrs. Marilyn Keesing, via Hugo Keesing, received in shipments beginning in December 2007, with the most recent received in 2015.

Related Material

In addition to this collection, the other Keesing materials at Special Collections in the Performing Arts (SCPA) are separated into ten other collections (see the list below). Also available for access are thousands of LP singles and pieces of sheet music pertaining to popular music in the twentieth century, some of which pertain to New Orleans R&B.

An additional finding aid exists to further describe the memorabilia contained within several of the Keesing collections.

The Keesing collection also contains thousands of catalogued books, available for use in the Lowens room. To view the available titles, visit the Libraries' catalog. Using the "type of search" drop-down menu, select "call number" and type "MKEESING" into the word search box. This brings up a multi-page, browse-able list of Keesing Collection books, which contains several about Fats Domino and R & B music.

Additionally, the following books and CD collections by Dr. Keesing are available for use at the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library:

Keesing, Hugo A. Battleground Korea: Songs and Sounds of America's Forgotten War. Bear Family Productions, 2018. 4-CD boxed set and accompanying 159-page book. Call number: Paged Collections, MCD 19705.

Keesing, Hugo A. Next Stop is Vietnam: The War on Record. Bear Family Records, 2010. 13-CD boxed set and accompanying 304-page book. Call number: Paged Collections, MCD 12460.

Keesing, Hugo A. Incomplete Bibliography of Pop/Rock Music: Key Word Version. Call number: Reference, ML128.R6 K43 1989.

Keesing, Hugo A. "Semper Fi": An Annotated Index of World War II Era Songs about the United States Marine Corps. 1997. Call number: Paged Collections, ML128.W2 K43 1997.

Keesing, Hugo A. Victory Girls: An Incomplete, Annotated Index of World War II Sheet Music Depicting Women in Non-Military Work. 1997. Call number: Reference, ML128.W2 K44 1997.

Keesing, Hugo A. "Youth in Transition: A Content Analysis of Two Decades of Popular Music." 1972. Call number: Lowens Special Collections Room, ML3477 .K44 1972.

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

Processing Information

Originally processed by Mary Crauderueff in Spring 2008, with added value processing by Amanda Weeks in July 2011 and Alice Rogers between July 2015 and October 2015. Original order was maintained whenever possible. Exceptions to this were made with loose materials, for which the exact order was not known, and oversize materials, which were removed for preservation purposes and replaced with separation sheets indicating their original and new location. Processing in 2015 included sorting and foldering loose materials, confirming folder contents and describing those in greater detail, as well as preservation actions for oversize materials, realia, ephemera, and recordings. Also in 2015, blank order forms were deaccessioned from the collection, as were materials only containing financial information. Series 6 (Publications) was arranged in alphabetical order by the name of the publication.

The Wouter Keesing collection on Fats Domino and New Orleans R&B
Processed by Mary Crauderueff, October 2008.
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