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Hugo Keesing

Retired Professor Hugo Keesing Donating 11,000 Records to UMD Libraries.

By Tom Ventsias, Terp Magazine

Hugo Keesing says the inspiration for buying his first vinyl record at age 12 wasn’t complicated: “I had begun to take notice of girls,” he recalls, “and soon discovered that they were more interested in boys that knew something about music.”

His initial purchase—89 cents for the Platters’ 1955 classic, “The Great Pretender”—sparked a passion that a half-century later is now a goldmine for musical history buffs to sift through.

In December, Keesing donated 1,000 45-rpm records from the golden era of rock and roll to the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, the first installment in his gift of 11,000 vinyl 45s. The initial gift includes everything from early songs by Elvis Presley and Fats Domino to the doo-wop sounds of the Belmonts (“I Wonder Why”) and the Penguins (“Earth Angel”).

They all reside, along with a trove of other popular music memorabilia, in the Hugo Keesing Collection of Popular Music and Culture, established by Keesing and his late brother Wouter in 1996.

“Through his gifts to this library, Hugo Keesing has transformed the holdings of primary sources in popular music from nonexistent into something comprehensive and, for some materials, unique,” says curator Vincent Novara.

Keesing says parting with his cherished records is only mildly bittersweet. “I was literally running out of room to safely store everything,” he says. “Now, they’re somewhere that others can experience the same sounds I did while growing up.”