Roosevelt and Ossman?
I have been researching the life and music of the early recording artist,
Vess Ossman (Sylvester Ossman). It is my understanding that he performed at
least once at the White House when it was occupied by President T.
Allegedly the president and the banjoist hit it off reasonably well.
I base this on comments made by Mr. Ossman during an interview in England
shortly after he performed for the King. He was asked about his recent
performance at the White House.
I am curious if you have more information on this performance and if it
was Ossman's only performance at the White House.
I doubt he was the earliest banjo player to ever perform at the White
House, but I have no idea who that might have been.
Vess Ossman recorded hundreds, if not thousands, of recordings on
Cylinder and 78 Disc between 1880 and WW1 He recorded for many labels over
He was the first to record anything for Victor Records.
He is credited as the first to record ragtime jazz pieces.
He is also, I believe amongst the first, if not the first, to record
anything by Sousa, when in the early 1890's he had a "runaway hit" (as
much as you could have a runaway hit on cylinder) with his recording
of 'The Washington Post March'.
I would love to learn anything I can about his visit(s) to the White
I first posed this question to the White House Historical Society this
morning. I received a very quick reply, refering me to this esteemed group:
> Mr. Otten:It will be some time before I am able to travel to W.DC to research this
> We do not have any material here at the Association about Ossman's
> performance at the White House. The only major book related to the subject,
> Music at the White House by Elise K. Kirk, does not mention Ossman.
> However, the possibility that material exists in the National Archives and
> Library of Congress are pretty good, if you can travel to do research.
> Record Group 42 (Office of Public Buildings and Grounds) includes the
> scrapbooks and invitations for many Theodore Roosevelt era White House
> events. The Library of Congress has the TR papers and the newspapers of
> Washington in that era are there on microfilm and may inlcude accounts of
> the performance. You might also try the TR Association website:
> http://www.theodoreroosevelt.org/ A Roosevelt scholar might be able to lead
> you to materials you are after. Good luck.
in person. Meanwhile I thought someone here just might have interesting
references, anecdotes or other tidbits to add to my research thus far.