The Louis G. and Shirley Hecht Collection

Louis G. Hecht, March 8, 1922 — March 8, 2014

Mr. Louis G. Hecht (March 8, 1922 - March 8, 2014) was a native of Baltimore, Maryland. He was also a fixture of Charm City’s swinging scene on the legendary Pennsylvania Avenue, where he became a well-known connoisseur of jazz at an early age. He collected an impressive number of recordings by jazz greats including Louis Armstrong, Fletcher Henderson, Chick Webb, and Billie Holiday. As one of the founders of the Baltimore Jazz Foundation, he helped support a pilot jazz education program with the goal of bringing jazz into schools across Maryland.

Mr. Hecht generously donated his voluminous collection to the museum. A small team of museum staff and interns began conducting an inventory of Mr. Hecht’s collection in 2008. For the next two years, he met with the team on a weekly basis to provide insight on the collection during their inventory process. He brought the music to life by sharing regular listening sessions and personal stories about many of the recordings and artists. Now a part of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum’s permanent collection, the Louis G. and Shirley Hecht Collection contains over 3,700 original 78 RPM and LP recordings ranging from the 1920s to 1960s along with books, journals, newspaper articles, photographs and other materials dating from 1937 to 2010 that document the music and artists that most captivated this lifelong collector.

The collection is available to the public through a listening station in the museum's Resource Center.

“I met Cab Calloway…and he started to take me down to the Royal Theater. Now I wasn’t collecting records then, but I was listening…I had three or four friends…and we came to listen, and we did indeed, and then we decided we wanted to buy some of this music…we were interested in the roots of it. We wanted to hear the early Louies and the early Dukes and the early Fletcher Henderson hits.”
- Louis G. Hecht, from transcript of 2004 Interview for Peabody Institute, Archives and Special Collections