Logo for Arnold Shaw Popular Music Center

Arnold Shaw Popular Music Research Center

at the UNLV School of Music


Arnold Shaw founded UNLV's Popular Music Research Center in 1985, making it one of the world's oldest institutions of its kind. Shaw believed that Las Vegas's cultural identity rested on two pillars: gaming and popular musical entertainment. He therefore envisioned UNLV housing a popular music research center parallel to the university's Gaming Institute.

Today, the Arnold Shaw Center honors Shaw's vision, enabling the study of popular music through two major activities:

Collecting, archiving, and making accessible historical materials related to popular music, including music manuscripts, memorabilia, sheet music, and recordings, with a special emphasis on Las Vegas musical entertainment.

Providing a forum for scholars and practitioners of popular music to share their research and creative work with the UNLV community and the broader public. Our current efforts in this regard center on our annual lecture series, which welcomes prominent figures in popular music studies to share their knowledge with UNLV's community and beyond.
Image of Arnold Shaw, ca. 1982.
Photo of Arnold Shaw, ca. 1982.
Courtesy UNLV Special Collections and Archives

Arnold Shaw (1909–1989)

Arnold Shaw was a writer, music publishing executive, songwriter, and member of the UNLV faculty from 1979. Shaw is perhaps best known today for his fifteen influential books on popular music, including Honkers and Shouters: The Golden Years of Rhythm and Blues (Crowell-Collier, 1978), Black Popular Music in America (Schirmer, 1986), and The Jazz Age: Popular Music in the 1920s (Oxford University Press, 1987). At UNLV, he was beloved for his "Rap with the Artist" series, which brought well-known entertainers to interact with the university's students. Shaw's deposit of his tape archive and papers in 1985 founded the Popular Music Research Center, renamed in his honor in 1989.

Click here for more information about Shaw.