Through a generous donation of the Welk family, North Dakota State University acquired the Lawrence Welk Collection in 1993. The NDSU Libraries and the Institute for Regional Studies Archives were given responsibility for preserving and making available the music and memorabilia of Lawrence Welk.
Lawrence Welk was an American cultural icon, whose music and musical family touched the lives of millions of people. Starting in the early years of television in the 1950s, The Lawrence Welk Show was a fixture on Saturday nights. Welk is one of North Dakota’s most famous native sons, born and raised in the German Russian community of Strasburg, North Dakota. In 1961 he received the North Dakota’s highest honor by being the first recipient of the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award. Welk received an honorary doctorate of music from NDSU in 1965.
The Lawrence Welk Collection contains over 10,000 music arrangements, as well as scrapbooks, manuscripts, photographs, artifacts, record albums, publications, and oral histories. It has been organized and indexed to make it accessible to researchers as well as to interested fans and admirers. The Institute continues to acquire related music and memorabilia for the collection, and welcomes donations of Welk-related materials.
The NDSU Libraries’ Germans from Russia Heritage Collection also includes an extensive collection of Lawrence Welk-related articles, photographs, and other resources.
Lawrence Welk Resources
Through generous donations by various individuals, a number of manuscript collections have been made part of the Lawrence Welk Collection and are available for public research use.
- Brechtel, Elmira (Welk Collection 1) The Elmira Brechtel Collection consists of correspondence from performers with the Lawrence Welk Orchestra sent to Ms. Brechtel in response to letters and cards that she sent to various members of the Lawrence Welk Show. Sending birthday cards had been a hobby of Mrs. Brechtel’s for over sixty years.
- Jules and Lois Herman Papers (Welk Collection 6) The Jules and Lois Herman Papers document their musical careers, particularly the music used by the Jules Herman Band that performed for some thirty-five years at the Prom in St. Paul, Minnesota. It also includes the music playbooks with some music arrangements that were used by the Minnesota Vikings Football Band that Jules Herman directed. Of general interest is a scrapbook documenting their lives.
- Hogue, Rolly And Pat (Welk Collection 2) The Rolly and Pat Hogue Lawrence Welk Collection documents the close friendship between the Hogues and Lawrence Welk as well as the Hogue’s arrangements for Welk’s visits back to North Dakota.
- Lawrence Welk Scrapbooks Collection (Welk Collection 5) The Lawrence Welk Scrapbook Collection is perhaps the most comprehensive collection documenting the career of Lawrence Welk from 1938 to 1981. Due to the fragile condition of the originals, the scrapbooks from 1938 to 1953 have been photocopied and are available in a bound volume at the NDSU Archives Research Room.
- Lawrence Welk Sheet Music Collection (Welk Collection 4) The Lawrence Welk Sheet Music Collection includes single sheet music titles and a number of music books that either feature Lawrence Welk or members of his musical family on the cover or were composed and published by them. The vast majority of the titles are from the 1930s through 1950s. A photograph of Lawrence Welk is featured on many of the covers and often the phrase ‘Featured by Lawrence Welk and his Champagne Orchestra’.
- Norma Zimmer National Fan Club (Welk Collection 3) The Norma Zimmer National Fan Club records consist of its quarterly newsletters from 1978 to date. The newsletters vary as to length; however, they consistently include messages from President/DIrector Frances Young and Norma Zimmer. In more recent years, several color photographic prints of Norma Zimmer are enclosed with each newsletter. These photographs are preserved in the Welk Photograph Collection.
The Lawrence Welk Music Arrangements Index provides access to some 10,000 original arrangements used by the Welk Orchestra and individual performers spanning from the 1950s to 1980s. The data is from a card file developed by the Welk staff that came as part of the donation of the Welk Collection to North Dakota State University in 1993; additional arrangements that were not included in the original card file have been added to the database.
Photographs documenting Lawrence Welk, members of his musical family as well as his own family have been acquired through a number of private donors. No photographs were donated by Welk Syndication, except a small number that are found in the Scrapbooks Collection.
- Jules and Lois Herman Photograph Collection (Welk Photo Collection 4) The Herman collection provides a glimpse into the musical careers of Jules and Lois Herman, particularly that of Jules, who played trumpet in various bands including Lawrence Welk. The images span from the 1930s to the 1960s and include individual and couples portraits, many of the bands in which Jules performed, including his own band in St. Paul, MN, as well as a variety of images from the scrapbook in his papers.
- Rolly Hogue's Welk Photograph Collection (Welk Photo Collection 1) This collection includes photographs of groups and individuals as well as a formal photograph of Lawrence Welk, taken mostly when Welk visited North Dakota. Hogue was Welk's scheduling manager when he would visit the state.
- Nancy Pearson's Welk Photograph Collection (Welk Photo Collection 3) Photographs collected by Ms. Pearson documenting Lawrence Welk and members of his musical family, as well as her personal family.
- Lawrence Welk Photograph Collection (Welk Photo Collection 2) This collection includes photographs from numerous donors and includes images of Lawrence Welk, his family and the Lawrence Welk orchestra members and performers. All images come from private donors; none of the photographs were part of the initial Welk Family donation.
The Lawrence Welk Record Collection currently contains 695 albums with over 8,700 song titles. The records in this collection span the years of Lawrence Welk’s musical career and include recordings of his orchestra and musical family. Christmas editions and other special album sets are also included. Both record titles and song titles have been entered into a database, and a printed version is available at the NDSU Archives Research Room.
The Lawrence Welk scrapbooks span the years 1938-1942 and 1951-1982, and include photographs, articles, and newspaper clippings about Welk, his orchestra, and his musical family. They trace the career of Lawrence Welk from its beginnings in 1938 on radio, to the days when his orchestra traveled and performed throughout the country. The scrapbooks also cover the years of Lawrence Welk’s television show, from its infancy through the final broadcast in 1982. The scrapbooks are not indexed.
The television show logs document each Lawrence Welk show from July 2, 1955 to Sept. 28, 1982. The consecutively numbered log sheets list the songs used and names of the performers for each show. The ABC logs cover from 1955 to 1971 and the syndicated shows logs from 1971 to 1982. Also available is a separate index to the shows by song title. The original log sheets and the song title index have been photocopied and are available at the NDSU Archives Research Room.