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George Morrison, Sr. Papers

Identifier: ARL55

Scope and Contents

The collection includes photographs, broadsides, newspaper clippings, and oral history notes.


  • 1924-2001

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.


All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.

Biographical / Historical

Distinguished Denver Five Points musician (violinist), arranger, composer, band leader, and music teacher.

Born in Fayette, Missouri, September 9, 1891, the youngest son of Alice and Clark Morrison. His parents were, respectively, a talented pianist and a champion fiddler. Taken to Boulder, Colorado as a young child, Morrison attended Boulder Public Schools and studied violin for several years under Professor Harold Reynolds of the University of Colorado. Upon graduating from high school, he met Miss Willa May of Denver at a dance at the old East Denver Turner Hall at 21st and Arapahoe Streets. They married in Denver on August 28, 1911.

After moving to Denver, Morrison continued his work with David Abromwitz and Dr. Horace Tureman, conductor of the Denver Civic Symphony Orchestra. Declining a scholarship to the New England Conservatory, Morrison instead attended the Columbia Conservatory of Music on Chicago. He paid his own way with a job at the Panama Cabaret at 34th and State Streets.

In 1920, along with his orchestra, Morrison went to New York to record for Columbia Records and play at the Carleton Terrace Supper Club. There, he met Fritz Kreisler, who provided him with free lessons. Later that same year, Morrison toured Mexico, Canada, and other portions of the United States. Also, in Europe, he played a Command Performance for King George and Queen Mary. By the mid-1920s, Morrison’s touring entourage included Cuthbert Byrd, Desdamona and Leo Davis, Hattie McDaniel, Eugene Montgomery, Theodore Morris, Jimmy Lunceford, and Andy Kirk. Other well-known musicians with whom he shared an affiliation include Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, Scott Joplin, Al Jolson, Jelly Roll Morton, Tommy Dorsey, Paul Whiteman, and Quincy Jones.

While not touring, he gave lessons in his Denver home to pupils even if they could not afford to pay him. Additionally, Morrison volunteered as an assistant to both vocal and instrumental teachers at Whittier Elementary, Cole Junior High, and Manual High Schools. He resided at 2558 Gilpin Street and, when not engaged actively in musical endeavors, worked as a salesman for Consolidated Industries (Highland Memory Gardens), where he received accolades as the top salesman for 1965. A complete list of Morrison’s other honors appears in the collection.

George Morrison, Sr. died on November 5, 1974.


1 box (1 linear foot)

2 audiovisual boxes

1 oversize folders

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Marian Morrison Robinson, 2000. Gift, Donor unknown, April 16, 2003. Gift, Barbara Gibson, 2022.


Catalog record based on preliminary inventory.

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Denver Public Library, Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library Repository

2401 Welton St.
Denver Colorado 80205