A Guide to the Robert Shaw Collection, [ca. 1920-1986]
Born in Stafford, Texas, Robert Shaw (1908-1985) was the son of Jesse and Hettie Shaw. Despite his interest in music at an early age, Shaw’s father forbade him from taking piano lessons, encouraging him to work in the family’s cattle and hog business instead. As a teenager, Shaw traveled to Houston to listen to jazz musicians while paying for his own piano lessons. He eventually learned the "barrelhouse" piano style and joined an itinerant band called the Santa Fe Circuit in the 1920s. As a solo artist, Shaw played throughout Texas while also hosting his own radio show in Oklahoma City in 1933. After settling in Austin around 1934, he started a barbecue business and grocery store. Following his marriage to Martha Landrum five years later, Shaw recorded the album Texas Barrelhouse Piano with Mack McCormick in 1963. In 1967, he began performing again, playing at a number of venues, including the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and the Smithsonian Institution’s American Folk Life Festival.
Acosta, Teresa Palomo. "Shaw, Robert."Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed April 27, 2011. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fsh43.
Composed of sheet music, scrapbooks, correspondence, videocassette tapes, and photographs, the Robert Shaw Collection, [ca. 1920-1986], documents Shaw’s career as a barrelhouse pianist. Sheet music concerns barrelhouse, blues, and jazz music, while scrapbooks consist of clippings related to the barrelhouse music scene and Shaw’s performances. The collection also contains correspondence and videocassette tapes relating to performances as well as photographs depicting Shaw and his family.
This collection is open for research use.
Robert Shaw Collection, [ca. 1920-1986], Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s "History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light" project, 2009-2011.
Subsequent revisions by Amanda Reyes, November 2015.
Detailed Description of the Papers