Scope and arrangement
The Thomas McKee Papers contain materials related to his player piano patents and his attempts to promote his designs through The Language of Music. Materials include correspondence, patents, clippings, and publicity materials.
Of interest are the correspondence related to McKee's attempts to gain funding for his patents and book as well as his manuscript copy of The Language of Music. Correspondence with Carroll Brent Chilton of the Audible Music Text Society and the Aeolian Company and Chilton's writings provide context for McKee's work. Correspondence with player piano roll businesses provides some detail into the creation and business of automatic player pianos.
The Thomas McKee papers are arranged in two series:
- 1890 - 1933
Materials related to McKee's research in player pianos and his attempts at soliciting interest in his designs through correspondence and through his book, The Language of Music. Series includes copies of Carroll Brent Chilton's writings providing context for McKee's work. Also contains reference patents concerning automatic player pianos and permissions for McKee to utilize other author's work in his book.
- 1921 - 1933
The series contains McKee's two volume draft of The Language of Music. The book is hand typed with pencil revisions and contains citations and illustrations pasted into the text. The series also includes scrapbook pages containing oversized patents and correspondence papers. Of interest are correspondence between McKee and player piano roll companies which provide some information about the automatic player piano business. In addition, the series contains correspondence between McKee and the associates of numerous businessmen, musicians, and philanthropists such as Henry Ford, Irving Berlin, Otto H. Kahn, and Douglas Fairbanks whom McKee apparently hoped to interest in his designs.