In April 2008, members of the Grateful Dead joined UCSC librarians at the historic Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco to announce the gift of their archive to the University. Housed in McHenry Library’s Special Collections, the Grateful Dead Archive is used by a thriving community of scholars, researchers, teachers, students, and fans. The Archive documents the music, career, and history of the Grateful Dead, and it includes material representing the diversity and extent of their fans, the Deadheads.
“It seemed to all of us that the stuff really belongs to the community that supported us for all those years. And Santa Cruz seemed the coziest possible home for it.” – Bob Weir
The band incorporated in 1970, the same year they founded their first subsidiary enterprise, Ice Nine Publishing, charged with handling their music licensing and intellectual property issues. The majority of the Archive documents the years 1970–1995, with some materials dating back to the founding of the band in 1965 as well as some of its activities since 1995.
The Grateful Dead’s original bequest spans hundreds of linear feet and includes artifacts, audio and video recordings, papers and art works. A second donation in 2012 added more than a hundred linear feet of business records and art works.
The Archive contains business records documenting tours and concerts, as well as posters, photographs, tickets, backstage passes and laminates. Merchandise samples document the band's broader commercial efforts. Ice Nine Publishing records include some lyric drafts, copyright registrations, and correspondence.
One of the Archive's strengths is its documentation of the extraodinary bond the Dead forged with their fans, the Deadheads, represented by thousands of decorated envelopes along with fan art and correspondence. The band's outreach to fans is also reflected, with complete sets of both the Dead Heads newsletters and the later Grateful Dead Almanac.
The band still controls its legendary tape Vault, but the Archive does have copies of commercially released recordings, along with two representative sets of fan-collected recordings. The band's library is available for researchers to consult, along with many additional publications on the Dead, both scholarly and trade. Press clippings dating to 1966 are another valuable resource for researchers, and a major part of the collection.
“If you want to know how the Dead was built, this is where you would go… the Archive tells the whole story.”
- Mickey Hart in Rolling Stone Magazine April 1, 2010
Additional band records still in use by Grateful Dead Productions will eventually complete the original bequest of the band. Lacunae in any large archive are to be expected. We anticipate filling those gaps with additional targeted accessions to the larger Archive. Our intention is to add to and develop the collections by actively acquiring materials from a wide range of donors in order to create an archive that reflects the diversity, power, and multifaceted nature of the Grateful Dead phenomenon. A few of these collections are described below.
The Herb Greene Photography Collection
As a fellow founding member of the Haight-Ashbury, Herb Greene began photographing the band and surrounding scene in 1965. Like the band he photographed dozens of times over the next forty years, Greene became a professional, and his career is one of many that began in the Haight alongside the Dead and remained entwined with theirs. Many of the most seminal images of the band emerged from Greene’s portrait sessions with the Dead. His collection includes gelatin-silver prints in limited edition portfolios as well as several published books of his images.
The Jerry Garcia Memorial Collection
One of the most remarkable collections in the Archive comprises materials from the "altar" contributed by fans at the official memorial for Jerry Garcia held in Golden Gate Park on August 13, 1995. Many of these items were preserved and donated to the Archive by Theresa (Trixie) Garcia, Jerry Garcia’s daughter. A signature event in the history of the Grateful Dead phenomenon, the Memorial was a spectacular, communal artistic monument documenting the power and nature of the extraordinary bond between Garcia and Deadheads. Its more than 3,100 items include letters, art, and a wide array of realia and artifacts: candles, clothing, musical instruments, paintings, and photographs.
The Dennis McNally Papers
As author of the bestselling critical biography Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, the Beat Generation, and America (1979), McNally was invited by Jerry Garcia in 1980 to do a similar book on the Dead. Several years later, he was hired as band publicist, a role he fulfilled until they retired the name in 1995. His archive encompasses 54 linear feet, including research papers, publicity files, and notes for his official history, A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead (2002). The jewel of the collection is the more than 300 interview recordings McNally conducted with band members, family, and associates. McNally’s archive also documents the complex permeability of the boundary between band and audience, as his career carried him from fan to employee, from scholar to publicist, and finally to official, authorized historian.
The Dick Latvala Collection
As the band’s second Vault archivist (after Willy Legate), Dick Latvala was the namesake of the beloved historic recording series Dick’s Picks. A consummate taper and passionate fan since his first show in1966, Latvala first went to work for the band as an office gofer and was soon tapped as full-time Vault archivist. This collection includes notebooks of Latvala’s recordings and 500 reels of his personal tape collection.
The Michael “Mikel” Linah Collection
For Deadheads in the early and mid-Eighties, “Mikel” was a delightful part of the scene: a series of free stickers commemorating shows and tours emblazoned with that moniker, and a free newsletter of the same name, a folded broadside handed out at shows or mailed to anyone who asked and provided a stamped envelope. Many of those beautifully decorated envelopes appear in the 1.5 linear feet of this collection, spanning correspondence, stickers, newsletters, and associated records.