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Jack Penewell collection, 1897-1973

Penewell, Jack

Publication Details Click to collapse Cite/Export

  • Format Mixed Materials; Videos, Slides, Films; Photos, Drawings, Prints; Music Scores; Sound Recordings; Unspecified
  • Contributors
  • Publication 1897-1973
  • Physical Details
    • 2 linear ft. (1 flat archival box, 1 letter document box)
  • OCLC ocm38117918


  • Materials in the collection are non-circulating but may be consulted in the library; access through staff retrieval only.
  • Collection materials may be subject to laws governing rights. Researchers are solely responsible for determining the rights status of the materials they use. Permission may be required for some uses such as publication or reproduction.


  • Materials documenting Jack Penewell's career and personal life organized into 2 series: 1. Print materials, 2. Sound recordings. Materials include: photographs, newspaper clippings, slides, contracts, fliers, 78-rpm audio discs, correspondence, sheet music, and various issues of serial publications. Some materials focus on Penewell's guitar inventions: a four-necked, 24-string Hawaiian guitar, as well as a double-necked guitar that he marketed as the Twin-Six, including photographs, patent applications and technical papers. Includes photos inscribed to Penewell from Charles Lindbergh, Amos n' Andy, and other vaudeville performers of the 1920s. Musicians and performing groups pictured in photographs include family members, Harold Stockton, Ray Pride, Leo Aberle, Josh Salter, Prince & Pride, Hawaiian Sextet, the Royal Palm Duo, Jack Penewell's Palm Isle Serenaders, and the Royal Palm Serenaders. The audio discs include alternate takes and test pressings Penewell recorded for the Paramount and Autograph labels.


  • Forms part of: Wisconsin Music Archives.
  • Jack Penewell was born July 1st, 1897 in Arendahl, Minnesota. After his graduation from high school, he became a vaudeville guitarist, composer and inventor. He performed initially on radio and later began playing on vaudeville stages around the country, often billed as "the guitar ace," or "wizard of the 12-string guitar." He played Hawaiian steel guitar and helped popularize Hawaiian style music. In 1922, he began marketing his inventions such as double-necked guitars, and a 4-necked Hawaiian guitar. He served in both World Wars, living briefly in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania between the wars. After his discharge from the army in 1943, he moved to Madison, Wisconsin and taught guitar at McKinney's School of Hawaiian Guitar, Wheeler School of Music, and at his own music shop on North Hamilton Street. Penewell died in 1973 in Madison, Wisconsin.
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