About the Grateful Dead Archive

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, which was charged with handling their music licensing and intellectual property issues. In vast proportion, the Archive represents the years 1970–1995, but materials dating back to the founding of the band in 1965 have been added and are reflected in the Archive today.

The Grateful Dead’s original bequest spans hundreds of linear feet and includes musical and historical artifacts, audio and video recordings, papers and art work featuring iconography instantly recognizable to millions of fans around the world. It is filled with  both unique material and commercially produced items that will be of  interest to students and scholars.

The Archive contains, show files of tours and concerts, with posters, photographs, tickets, backstage passes and laminates documenting the band’s recordings and performances. Merchandise samples, stage backdrops, instruments and recording equipment give dimension to the Archive’s performative collections.

Original, primary resources, including business papers, contracts, and material associated with Ice Nine Publishing, such as lyric drafts, copyright registrations, and early material documenting publication processes are all included, as are personal artifacts and correspondence of band and Grateful Dead family members.

Of great importance to the Archive is material that the band sent out to their fans over the years and, in the spirit of reciprocity, contributions sent by Deadheads. There are thousands of decorated envelopes mailed to the band’s ticket office, fan art and correspondence, and copies of the historic Dead Head mailings and newsletters.

Beyond the primary material, the Archive houses collections of publications and commercial productions made by the Grateful Dead and others including complete sets of audio and video recordings, copies of radio broadcasts, fanzines and journals, books published by and about the Grateful Dead, and a large press clipping file, begun in 1965, containing announcements, reviews, and commentary on the band’s activities.

“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


Augmenting the Grateful Dead Archive

Additional band records still in use by Grateful Dead Productions and its agents 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—both digital and physical—to the larger Archive.  Our intention is to add to and develop the collections by actively acquiring materials from a wide range of donors, including Dead Heads, in order to create an archive that reflects the diversity, power, and multifaceted nature of the Grateful Dead phenomenon.  That process is already well underway, as noted by the following new collections that have recently found a home at UCSC:

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 Theresa Garcia Collection of the Jerry Garcia Memorial
One of the most remarkable collections in the Archive comprises materials from the altar assembled by fans at the official memorial for Jerry Garcia held in Golden Gate Park on August 13, 1995, saved and then gifted 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. It spans 80 linear feet, including 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 treatment of the Dead. Shortly after he began work, he was invited to become band publicist, a role he fulfilled until they disbanded in 1995. His archive encompasses 54 linear feet, including research papers, publicity files, and notes for his official biography of the band, 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 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 to organize the Vault. This collection includes five notebooks of Latvala’s notes and 500 reels of his personal tape collection, featuring often elaborately decorated and annotated set lists on the boxes.

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.