The Lionel Hampton collection spans most of his musical career, 1926–2002, with the bulk of the collection dating 1940–1990. There are obvious gaps and a narrow focus of some parts of the collection. The absence of many personal papers and much memorabilia that one might expect in a collection of this sort is likely due to a fire that destroyed Hampton’s New York City apartment in early 1997. Most of the records in this collection were given to the University of Idaho in 1992, another portion of them were in Hampton’s possession but stored elsewhere at the time of the fire, and some survived that fire because they were in a back closet. Other records were either destroyed or are still in the possession of business managers and publicists.