Michael Cogswell

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Our program is dedicated to Michael Cogswell, who died April 20 at the age of 66. Cogswell was the founding Executive Director of the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona, Queens.

The WBGO website has an excellent obituary detailing Cogswell’s career as jazz archivist and historian who undertook the job of turning Louis Armstrong’s New York home into a museum.

The LAHM Facebook page says that Cogswell transformed “a stack of 72 shipping cartons filled with Louis Armstrong’s vast personal collection of home-recorded tapes, scrapbooks, photographs, manuscripts, and memorabilia … into a monumental research archive, eventually holding eleven collections of Armstrong material.”

Photo courtesy of Louis Armstrong House Museum

All that said, we have a Michael Cogswell memory of our own to share.

As part of its post-Katrina coverage in 2005, NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday broadcast a collection of recorded messages offering words of encouragement and support to hurricane victims. The speakers included singer Bonnie Raitt, reporter Betsy Mullener, authors Fannie Flagg and Richard Ford … and Michael Cogswell:

At that time, Gwen was the senior editor of the program. “Michael Cogswell and I never met face to face, but in 2005 he was my first call when I came up with the idea to create this ribbon of salutations. He really came through. Only later did I hear that his brother lives not far from New Orleans, in Folsom, Louisiana. Cogswell’s message of support set the exact tone we wanted — calm, personal concern, sincerity and hope.”