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Early Jazz Music (Backlash and Opposition): Topics in Chronicling America

Along with its rise in the early 1900s, Jazz music faced backlash and opposition. This guide provides access to material related to "Early Jazz Music" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


Three dancing couples pose behind a live jazz band. December 3, 1922. The Morning Tulsa Daily World (Tulsa, OK), Image 49. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Critics call jazz immoral…ugly…ridiculous as it rockets to popularity in the early 1920s. Did the “Devil’s music” really lead to the downfall of society? Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


Circa 1900 Dixieland Jazz gets its start in New Orleans.
1917 Original Dixieland Jazz Band makes first jazz recording.
August 1919 Dance masters declare all-out war on jazz evil.
September 3, 1919 Dancing public has gone “jazz mad” and “the jazz craze must go,” says Chattanooga dance instructor.
March 13, 1921 Imps invent jazz to torment imbeciles, says Dr. Van Dyke.
January 25, 1922 Jazz dancing creates an army of imbeciles, says North Dakota cleric.
June 8, 1922 French thinkers describe jazz as “ugly, ridiculous, and indecent,” but also admit that the public “can’t find anything too jazzy.”