Jazz Section Collection at the National Archives
The Jazz Section (JS) Collection was founded thanks to Karel Mašita, a former member of the section, and was supplemented by materials collected in exile by the historian Vilém Prečan. The collection contains documents which had been created since 1968: e.g. the correspondence regarding the foundation of JS and the first years of its operation, plans for activities, correspondence with authorities, documents regarding supervision and screenings, complaints concerning the attempts by the authorities to dissolve JS, the liquidation of the Union of Musicians and the reaction of the international press to the trials of members of JS.
Archivní 2257/4, 149 00 Praha 4 - Chodovec, Czech Republic
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Name of collection
- Jazz Section 1968–1998
Provenance and cultural activities
The Jazz Section (JS) was originally founded as an official institution in 1971 as a branch of the Czech Union of Musicians, but with its own rules, management and legal accountability. During the 1970s, JS organised music festivals, published a magazine called Jazz and founded the Jazz-petit series consisting of books about jazz, jazz-rock, contemporary art and drama, and rock music etc. In the second half of the 1970s, a campaign against JS was started by the State Security – many concerts and publications did not receive the necessary permission, while members of the board were kept under surveillance and interrogated. The Union of Musicians first dissolved the Jazz Section as a branch in 1980, and the Union itself was dissolved in 1984. The police persecution of its members of the board intensified – the main activists were taken into custody in 1986 and tried for delinquency. However, the alleged one-million Czechoslovak crown tax debt was unproven, and after an international campaign for their release, most of the activists were gradually set free from prison at the beginning of 1987. The imprisonment and interrogations left impacts on their health, which in some cases even lead to premature death. The trials ended with much lower sentences than had been proposed. After his sentence was suspended, Karel Srp, the chairperson of the Jazz Section, asked to register an organisation called Artfórum, which had similar goals to JS. Arfórum was registered in June 1989. The members of JS were vindicated after the end of the communist regime in 1989.
The Jazz Section Collection, now deposited in the National Archive, was the result of the long-term acquisition efforts of Karel Mašita, a former member of JS and a legal representative of the subsequent Artfórum in the 1990s, who personally transferred his collection to the Institute of Contemporary History of the Czech Academy of Sciences (ÚSD AV ČR) in November 2004, with archive materials on JS collected in exile by the historian Vilém Prečan, a director of the Czechoslovak Documentation Centre for Independent Literature. These two collections were brought together to form one collection in 2005 and a provisional inventory list was made. These documents form a unique collection of an institution which through its broad cultural engagement aimed to promote areas of contemporary art which were not favoured by the communist regime. It unofficially remained in operation even after its dissolution, as was often the case for other independent or opposition groups in Czechoslovakia.
The Jazz Section Collection was moved from the ÚSD AV ČR to the National Archive in 2011 and is still located there (2018). The collection is called Jazzová sekce 1968–1998 (Jazz Section 1968–1998). The administrator is the “6th Section of the Fonds of Non-state Provenance and Archive Collections” and is available for in-house study. The materials have not yet been used by the institution for exhibition or publication purposes.
Description of content
The archival “Jazz Section” collection contains documents dating back to 1968: correspondence regarding the foundation of JS and first years of its operation, minutes from important meetings of the committee and board of the Union of Musicians, plans for activities, evaluations of music festivals, correspondence with authorities, documents regarding supervision and screenings, complaints concerning the attempts by the authorities to dissolve JS and the Union of Musicians. It also contains documents from the 1990s when the members were vindicated after their trial and imprisonment by communist tribunals.
A part of the collection is from Scheinfeld, which contains materials that were sources for the international campaigns to release the imprisoned leading members of the Jazz Section in the second half of the 1980s, and the reaction from the international press – newspaper clippings, transcriptions of articles etc.
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 10-99
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 10-99
- music recordings: 10-99
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 0-9
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Important events in the history of the collection
- visits by appointments
Author(s) of this page
- Müller, Dorota
Jazzová sekce. 2018. "Jazzová sekce: Náš příběh." Accessed October 1. https://jazzova-sekce.cz/.
Kouřil, Vladimír. 1999. Jazzová sekce v čase a nečase. 1971–1986. Praha: Torst.
Srp, Karel. 1994. Výjimečné stavy. Povolání Jazzová sekce. Praha: Pragma.
Bugge, Peter. 2011. “Boj magické moci razítka s magickou mocí lidovou. Případ Jazzové sekce.” Soudobé dějiny, No. 3: 346–82.
Tomek, Oldřich. 2003. “Akce Jazz.” Securitas Imperii, No. 10: 235–327.
Wikipedia. 2018. “Jazzová sekce.” Accessed October 1. https://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jazzov%C3%A1_sekce.
Tomeš Josef et al. 1999. Český biografický slovník XX. století. III. díl Q–Z. Praha: Paseka.
National Archives of the Czech Republic (NA ČR), fond Jazzová sekce (Jazz Section Collection)