Secrist, John, 1918-1958

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Record collector and mathematician John Bert Secrist, Jr., was born in Kansas City, Kansas, on August 14, 1918, and joined the staff of IBM in New York in 1953. In New York, Secrist founded the Vocal Record Collectors' Society and compiled detailed discographies of Rosa Ponselle (1950) and Enrico Caruso (1951). As a prominent collector of classical vocal recordings, Secrist maintained high and exacting standards. He died in 1958 at the age of forty.

From the description of Papers from the John Secrist Jr. collection, 1919-1973 (bulk 1949-1958). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 320523996

Biographical Note

Record collector and mathematician John Bert Secrist, Jr., was born in Kansas City, Kansas, on August 14, 1918, to Florence and John B. Secrist. Secrist received a bachelor of arts degree in mathematics (Phi Beta Kappa) from the University of Richmond in 1939 and a master of arts in mathematics from the University of Virginia in 1941. He taught math for several years at the United States Naval Academy, Emory University, and Columbia University, where he continued his graduate course work. In 1953 he joined the staff of IBM in New York, working as a mathematician. His projects included computer technology, satellite communications, and missile defense.

Secrist began acquiring records as a high school student and continued to have an interest in collecting vocal recordings throughout his college career. After moving to New York in 1945 and meeting others who shared his interests, he became a more avid collector and was a founder and member of the Vocal Record Collectors' Society, a non-profit organization for those interested in collecting classical vocal recordings of all eras.

Secrist collected early record catalogs and began compiling more detailed discographies for his favorite artists. The first, of Rosa Ponselle, was published in the 1950 issue of The Record Collector . While compiling the Ponselle discography, Secrist was granted an interview with Miss Ponselle, and they became friends for many years. In 1951 he published a discography of Enrico Caruso in the same journal and later published it in conjunction with Francis Robinson's Caruso, His Life in Pictures .

As a prominent record collector, Secrist was known for his exacting standards. Although he kept much of his collection in his parents' home in Atlanta, a large portion was held in New York as well, especially items he kept for trade. Secrist was meticulous in his efforts to find not just copies of particular recordings, but those as close to perfect as possible. Discographer Aida Favia-Artsay referred to his methods in the following way: "His was the selective, purposeful way: only classical vocal recordings, related material, and mainly quality above quantity!"

Secrist died in New York City at the age of 40 on October 11, 1958. In January of 1963, his parents transferred the majority of his collection (1,700 opera recordings) to the Library of Congress.

From the guide to the Papers from the John Secrist Jr. Collection, 1919-1973, 1949-1958, (Recorded Sound Section, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division Library of Congress)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Secrist, John, 1918-1958. Papers from the John Secrist Jr. collection, 1919-1973 (bulk 1949-1958). Library of Congress
creatorOf Papers from the John Secrist Jr. Collection, 1919-1973, 1949-1958 Recorded Sound Section, Motion Picture, Broadcasting andRecorded Sound Division Library of Congress
referencedIn White mss., 1932-1969 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Boucher, Anthony, 1911-1968 person
associatedWith Caruso, Enrico, 1873-1921. person
correspondedWith Drummond, Harold John person
correspondedWith Farrar, Geraldine, 1882-1967 person
associatedWith John Secrist Jr. Collection (Library of Congress) corporateBody
associatedWith John Secrist Jr. Collection (Library of Congress) DLC corporateBody
associatedWith McCormack, John. person
associatedWith McCormack, John. person
correspondedWith Ponselle, Rosa, 1897-1981 person
associatedWith Thomas, John Charles, 1891-1960. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Subject
Collectors and collecting--United States
Baritones (Singers)
Sopranos (Singers)--United States--Photographs
Sopranos (Singers)--Photographs
Tenors (Singers)
Sound recordings--United States--Collectors and collecting
Collectors and collecting
Sopranos (Singers)--United States
Baritones (Singers)--United States
Sopranos (singers)
Record labels
Opera
Sound recordings--Collectors and collecting
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1918

Death 1958

Americans

English

Information

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