The Jerry Wexler Collection, a group of nearly 2000 recordings in the Morse Department of Special Collections of the Kansas State University Libraries, was donated in 1986 by alumnus Jerry Wexler, co-owner of Atlantic Records in the 1950s. Wexler proposed using the now universal term "Rhythm and Blues" to take the place of "race music."
The core of the Wexler Collection consists of recordings from the mid-1960s through the 1970s and into the mid-1980s and reflects the professional interests of the donor. Predominant labels are Atlantic, Atco, ECM, ESP and Island and include such notable performers as Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Ray Charles, Big Joe Turner, Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters, and Bob Marley & the Wailers. Along with the usual "Best of ..." and "Live ..." recordings, are other discs with titles such as "Fluid Rustle" by Eberhard Weber; "Emerald Tears" by Dave Holland; "Decay Music" of Michael Nyman; and "Gnu High" by Kenny Wheeler. Jazz is represented by early recordings of the Modern Jazz Quartet and the Byron Allen Trio as well as reissues of artists such as Charlie "Yardbird" Parker, Freddie Keppart, Big Bill Broonzy and Joe "King" Oliver. Spoken recordings include a conversation with H. L. Mencken and the legendary Lenny Bruce Berkeley Concert.
Altogether the Jerry Wexler Collection represents a panorama of sound that illuminates an important corner of American popular music and culture.