University of Florida Acquires the Archives of African-American Musician Bo Diddley

The University of Florida has established the new Elias B. McDaniel (Bo Diddley) Collection, which will be available to scholars, students, and the public.

Known as Bo Diddley since his early days as a musician, he was born in Mississippi in 1928. He began his musical career in Chicago, lived in Washington, D.C., and resided in New Mexico and Florida, before passing in 2008 in Archer, Florida. McDaniel’s body of work performing as Bo Diddley created a bridge between the genres of rhythm and blues and rock and roll, plucking elements from a variety of musical traditions and transforming them into a signature style.

The Ellas B. McDaniel Collection holds an array of items reflecting the musical genius, public performance and accomplishments of McDaniel, who lived the latter portion of his life in Archer, Florida, near the University of Florida campus. The collection ensures the preservation of and access to historical materials of international significance that have particular importance to Floridians. The acquired items include musical instruments, stage costumes, posters, photographs, documents, and memorabilia.

The collection will support teaching and research about Bo Diddley’s many contributions to American music. A partnership with the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida will enable the Libraries to begin collecting oral histories in the near future, with curators placing a priority on documenting memories of Bo Diddley from his family, fellow musicians, and the Gainesville community.

The collection is now available for anyone conducting research in the university’s Smathers Library. An accompanying exhibit, “Bo Diddley: An American Original,” will be on display through June, 30.

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