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Inventory of the Anna Olswanger Papers, 1985-2004

Descriptive Summary

Abstract: Publications, short stories, and other papers of Anna Olswanger, children's story author and freelance editor. Included are published copies of Olswanger's short stories "Big Mistreatin' Bittersweet'n Blues" and "Chicken Bone Man," as well as materials relating to Olswanger's father, Berl Olswanger, a blues musician and composer from Nashville (Tennessee), and his sister Gene Olswanger.
Title: Anna Olswanger papers
Creator: Olswanger, Anna, 1953-
Date(s): 1985-2004  
Extent: 1 folder
Repository: Jewish Heritage Collection, Special Collections, College of Charleston Libraries
66 George Street
Charleston, SC 29424
Phone: (843) 953-8016
Fax: (843) 953-6319
Call Number: Mss 1034-077
Language of Material: Materials in English

Biographical Note

Anna Olswanger, a literary agent, children's book author, and miniature book publisher, was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1953. She has written several short stories, many of which revolve around the themes of blues music and Jewish life, including "Schlemiel Crooks," "Greenhorn," "Big Mistreatin' Bittersweet'n Blues," "Berl's Blues," and "Chicken Bone Man." In 2001, Olswanger moved to New Jersey, where she began publishing limited edition miniature books for collectors of Judaica.

Berl Olswanger (1917-1981), Anna Olswanger's father, also a native of Memphis, was a noted blues musician and composer. He toured in the 1930s with George Olsen's big band orchestra, served in World War II as Admiral Halsey's entertainment officer for the South Pacific, wrote commercial jingles, hosted his own television show, and owned a music store. Several of Berl Olswanger's compositions are the basis of Anna Olswanger's writings.

Collection Overview

The collection consists of publications, short stories, and other papers of Anna Olswanger, a children's story author and freelance editor. Included are published copies of Olswanger's short stories "Big Mistreatin' Bittersweet'n Blues" and "Chicken Bone Man," as well as materials relating to Olswanger's father, Berl Olswanger, a blues musician and composer. Also present is a published transcript of Anna Olswanger's 1993 interview with Gene Olswanger (Berl Olswanger's sister) describing her family.

Collection Arrangement

Materials are described at the item level.

Search Terms

The following terms have been used to index this collection in the Library's online catalog. They are grouped by name of person, family, or organization, by topical subject, by place, and by types of material.


    • Olswanger, Anna, 1953-
    • Olswanger, Berl, d. 1981
    • Olswanger family
    • Olswanger, Gene


    • Blues (Music)
    • Jewish composers--Tennesee--Nashville
    • Jewish musicians--Tennesee--Nashville
    • Jewish women authors
    • Music by Jewish composers--Tennesee--Nashville

    Types of Material

    • Interviews
    • Press releases
    • Sheet music
    • Short stories
    • Transcripts

    Related Resources

    Related Material

    Related materials at the College of Charleston Special Collections include the Olschwanger Journal.


    "Chicken Bone Man" by Anna Olswanger, 2004 (miniature book)
    Press release regarding F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference Short Story Contest award granted to Anna Olswanger for "Chicken Bone Man," 1997 September 19
    Cricket, Vol. 23, No. 6, 1996 February
    Includes Anna Olswanger's short story "Big Mistreatin' Bittersweet'n Blues" on page 10, and Berl Olswanger's song "Big Mistreatin' Bittersweet'n Blues" on page 15.
    The Memphis Music of Berl Olswanger, by Anna Olswanger, 1985
    Packet consisting of sheet music for Olswanger's songs, a chronology of Berl Olswanger's musical career, and reproductions of photographs and music manuscripts.
    Photocopy of "Interview with Gene Olswanger Lyons," by Anna Olswanger, 1993
    This interview was published in the second issue of the Olschwanger Journal. Gene Olswanger Lyons (1911-1986) is the sister of Berl Olswanger. In the interview, Gene Olswanger describes growing up in an Irish neighborhood in Memphis, Tennessee, her father's dry goods store, her siblings and their spouses, and celebrating Jewish holidays with her family. Olswanger also discusses her singing career in Chicago in the 1930s. Page 58 of the interview mentions an anecdote that was the basis of "Big Mistreatin' Bittersweet'n Blues." The interview includes reproductions of photographs and documents.

    Administrative Information

    Access Restrictions

    This collection is open for research.

    Copyright Notice

    The nature of the College of Charleston's archival holdings means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. Special Collections claims only physical ownership of most archival materials.

    The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Anna Olswanger papers, College of Charleston Libraries, Charleston, SC, USA.

    Acquisitions Information

    Materials were donated in 1997 and 2004 by Anna Olswanger.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Sarah Dorpinghaus, March 2011.

    Encoded by Sarah Dorpinghaus, July 2011.

    Funding from the Council on Library and Information Resources supported the processing of this collection and encoding of the finding aid.

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