Guide to the Duke Ellington Collection
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.0301
Creators:
Musical History, Division of (NMAH, SI)
Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974
Dates:
1903 - 1989
Languages:
English
Some materials in Czech, Dutch, German, French, Italian, Polish, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish.
Collection is in English.
Physical Description:
400 Cubic feet
Repository:
The collection documents Duke Ellington's career primarily through orchestrations (scores and parts), music manuscripts, lead sheets, transcriptions, and sheet music. It also includes concert posters, concert programs, television, radio, motion picture and musical theater scripts, business records, correspondence, awards, as well as audiotapes, audiodiscs, photographs, tour itineraries, newspaper clippings, magazines, caricatures, paintings, and scrapbooks.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
Dating approximately from the time Duke Ellington permanently moved to New York City in 1923 to the time the material was transferred to the Smithsonian Institution in 1988, the bulk of the material in the Duke Ellington Collection is dated from 1934-1974 and comprises sound recordings, original music manuscripts and published sheet music, hand-written notes, correspondence, business records, photographs, scrapbooks, news clippings, concert programs, posters, pamphlets, books and other ephemera. These materials document Ellington's contributions as composer, musician, orchestra leader, and an ambassador of American music and culture abroad. In addition, the materials paint a picture of the life of a big band maintained for fifty years and open a unique window through which to view an evolving American society.
The approximate four hundred cubic feet of archival materials have been processed and organized into sixteen series arranged by type of material. Several of the series have been divided into subseries allowing additional organization to describe the content of the material. For example, Series 6, Sound Recordings, is divided into four subseries: Radio and Television Interviews, Concert Performances, Studio Dates and Non-Ellington Recordings. Each series has its own scope and content note describing the material and arrangement (for example; Series 10, Magazines and Newspaper Articles, is organized into two groups, foreign and domestic, and arranged chronologically within each group). A container list provides folder titles and box numbers.
The bulk of the material is located in Series 1, Music Manuscripts, and consists of compositions and arrangements by Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn and other composers. Series 6, Sound Recordings also provides a record of the performance of many of these compositions. The materials in Series 2, Performances and Programs, Series 3, Business Records, Series 8, Scrapbooks, Series 9, Newspaper Clippings, Series 11, Publicity and Series 12, Posters provide documentation of specific performances by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra. Ellington was a spontaneous and prolific composer as evidenced by music, lyrical thoughts, and themes for extended works and plays captured on letterhead stationery in Series 3, Business Records, in the margin notes of individual books and pamphlets in Series 14, Religious Materials and Series 15, Books, and in the hand-written notes in Series 5, Personal Correspondence and Notes.
During its fifty-year lifespan, Duke Ellington and His Orchestra were billed under various names including The Washingtonians, The Harlem Footwarmers and The Jungle Band. The soloists were informally called "the band", and Series 3 includes salary statements, IOU's, receipts and ephemera relating to individual band members. Series 1, Music Manuscripts contains the soloists' parts and includes "band books" of several soloists (for example; Harry Carney and Johnny Hodges) and numerous music manuscripts of Billy Strayhorn. The changing role of Strayhorn from arranger hired in 1938 to Ellington's main collaborator and composer of many well-known titles for Duke Ellington and His Orchestra including "Take The A' Train" and "Satin Doll" can be traced in these music manuscripts. Series 7, Photographs and Series 2, Performances and Programs contain many images of the band members and Strayhorn. This Collection also documents the business history of Duke Ellington and His Orchestra. Series 3, Business Records contains correspondence on letterhead stationery and Series 11, Publicity contains promotional material from the various booking agencies, professional companies, and public relations firms that managed the Orchestra.
The materials in the Duke Ellington Collection provide insight into public and institutional attitudes towards African Americans in mid-twentieth-century America. The business records in Series 3 beginning in 1938 and published sheet music in Series 1 depict Duke Ellington's progression from an African-American musician who needed "legitimization" by a white publisher, Irving Mills, to a businessmen who established his own companies including Tempo Music and Duke Ellington, Incorporated to control his copyright and financial affairs. Programs from the segregated Cotton Club in Series 2, Performances And Programs and contracts with no-segregation clauses in Series 3: Business Records further illustrate racial policies and practices in this time period. The public shift in perception of Duke Ellington from a leader of an exotic "Jungle Band" in the 1930s to a recipient of the Congressional Medal Of Freedom in 1970 is evidenced in Series 2, Performances And Programs, Series 12, Posters, Series 7, Photographs and Series 13, Awards. Reviews and articles reflecting Ellington's evolving status are also documented in Series 8, Newspaper Clippings, Series 9, Scrapbooks, Series 10, Newspaper and Magazine Articles.
The materials in the Duke Ellington Collection reflect rapid technological changes in American society from 1923-1982. Sound recordings in Series 6 range from 78 phonograph records of three minutes duration manufactured for play on Victrolas in monaural sound to long-playing (LP) phonograph records produced for stereo record players. Television scripts in Series 4, programs in Series 2 and music manuscripts (for example,
Drum Is A Woman
) in Series 1 demonstrate how the development of television as a means of mass communication spread the Orchestra's sound to a wider audience. The availability of commercial air travel enabled the Ellington Orchestra to extend their international performances from Europe to other continents including tours to Asia, Africa, South America and Australia and archival material from these tours is included in every series.
Series 4, Scripts and Transcripts and Series 6, Audio Recordings contain scripts and radio performances promoting the sale of United States War bonds during World War II, and Series 7, Photographs includes many images of Duke Ellington and His Orchestra's performances for military personnel revealing the impact of historic events on Duke Ellington and His Orchestra. Series 2: Programs and Performances, Series 9, Newspaper clippings and Series 8, Scrapbooks document the 1963 Far East tour aborted as a result of President John F. Kennedy's assassination.
The Duke Ellington Collection contains works by numerous twentieth-century music, literature, and art luminaries. Series 1, Music Manuscripts contains original music manuscripts of William Grant Still, Eubie Blake, Mary Lou Williams, and others. Series 4, Scripts and Transcripts contains a play by Langston Hughes, and Series 12, Posters contains many original artworks.

Arrangement
Arrangement
  • Series 1: Music Manuscripts, circa 1930-1981, undated
  • Series 2: Performances and Programs, 1933-1973, undated
  • Series 3: Business Records, 1938-1988
  • Series 4: Scripts and Transcripts, 1937-1970
  • Series 5: Personal Correspondence and Notes, 1941-1974, undated
  • Series 6: Sound Recordings, 1927-1974
  • Series 7: Photographs, 1924-1972, undated
  • Series 8: Scrapbooks, 1931-1973
  • Series 9: Newspaper Clippings, 1939-1973, undated
  • Series 10: Magazine Articles and Newspaper Clippings, 1940-1974
  • Series 11: Publicity, 1935-1988
  • Series 12: Posters and Oversize Graphics, 1933-1989, undated
  • Series 13: Awards, 1939-1982
  • Series 14: Religious Material, 1928-1974
  • Series 15: Books, 1903-1980
  • Series 16: Miscellaneous, 1940-1974

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
A native of Washington, DC, Edward Kennedy Ellington was born on April 29, 1899. Edward was raised in a middle-class home in the Northwest section of Washington described by his sister Ruth--younger by sixteen years--as a "house full of love." Ellington himself wrote that his father J.E. (James Edward) raised his family "as though he were a millionaire" but Edward was especially devoted to his mother, Daisy Kennedy Ellington. In 1969, thirty-four years after his mother's death, Ellington accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom with these words, "There is nowhere else I would rather be tonight but in my mother's arms." Both his parents played the piano and Ellington began piano lessons at the age of seven, but like many boys he was easily distracted by baseball.

Administration
Separated Materials
Artifacts related to this collection are in the Division of Culture and the Arts and include trophies, plaques, and medals. See accessions: 1989.0369; 1991.0808; 1993.0032; and 1999.0148.
Existence and Location of Copies
The scrapbooks in series eight are available on microfilm or available through interlibrary loan, National Museum of American History Branch Library (catalog number: mfm 1174, rolls 1-16). A number of the photographs and other materials in this collection are also found in the Ruth Ellington Collection of Duke Ellington Materials (AC415) and the Edward and Gaye Collection of Duke Ellington Materials (AC704).
Processing Information
Processed by Deborra Richardson, archivist; Reuben Jackson, archivist; Scott Schwartz, archivist; Annie Kuebler, archivist; Vanessa Broussard-Simmons, archivist; Rebekah Keel, intern; Elizabeth Livesey, intern; Rebecca Kuske, intern; Holly Nelson, intern; Corey Schmidt, intern; Reginnia Williams, volunteer; Anne Jones, volunteer; Ben Pubols, volunteer and Ted Hudson, volunteer.
Author
Reuben Jackson, archivist; Annie Kuebler, archivist; Deborrah Richardson, archivist; Scott Schwartz, archivist, and Vanessa Broussard Simmons, archivist
Sponsor
Processing and encoding partially funded by a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was purchased through an appropriation of Congress in 1988.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research.
Preferred Citation
Duke Ellington Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Copyright restrictions. Consult the Archives Center at archivescenter@si.edu or 202-633-3270.
Paul Ellington, executor, is represented by:
Richard J.J. Scarola, Scarola Ellis LLP, 888 Seventh Avenue, 45th Floor, New York, New York 10106. Telephone (212) 757-0007 x 235; Fax (212) 757-0469; email: rjjs@selaw.com; www.selaw.com; www.ourlawfirm.com.

Related Materials
Materials in the Archives Center
William H. Quealy Collection of Duke Ellington Recordings (AC0296)
Rutgers University Collection of Radio Interviews about Duke Ellington (AC0328)
Duke Ellington Oral History Project (AC0368)
Duke Ellington Collection of Ephemera and realated Audiovisual Materials (AC0386)
Annual International Conference of the Duke Ellington Study Group Proceedings (AC0385)
Robert Udkoff Collection of Duke Ellington Ephemera (AC0388)
Frank Driggs Collection of Duke Ellington Photographic Prints (AC0389)
New York Chapter of the Duke Ellington Society Collection (AC390)
Earl Okin Collection of Duke Ellington Ephemera (AC0391)
William Russo Transcription and Arrangement of Duke Ellington's First Concert of Sacred Music (AC0406)
Ruth Ellington Collection of Duke Ellington Materials (AC0415)
Music manuscripts in the Ruth Ellington Collection complement the music manuscripts found in the Duke Ellington Collection.
Carter Harman Collection of Interviews with Duke Ellington (AC0422)
Betty McGettigan Collection of Duke Ellington Memorabilia (AC0494)
Dr. Theodore Shell Collection of Duke Ellington Ephemera (AC0502)
Edward and Gaye Ellington Collection of Duke Ellington Materials (AC0704)
Andrew Homzy Collection of Duke Ellington Stock Music Arrangements (AC0740)
John Gensel Collection of Duke Ellington Materials (AC0763)
Al Celley Collection of Duke Ellington Materials (AC1240)
Materials at Other Organizations
Websites

Custodial History
Custodial History
The acquisition of the Ellington Collection began with a chance encounter between Mercer Ellington and John Kinard, former Director of the Smithsonian's Anacostia Museum in October 1985. Mr. Ellington was filming a public service announcement at the Anacostia Museum. During the event Mr. Ellington mentioned to Mr. Kinard that although his father's tapes had been given to a radio station in Copenhagen, Denmark, Duke's papers were still in Mercer's possession. Mr. Kinard contacted Roger Kennedy, former Director of the National Museum of American History, who asked John Hasse, Curator of American Music, to pursue the lead.
Negotiations for the Collection began in April 1986, when John Fleckner, Chief Archivist of the American History Museum's Archives Center and Dr. Hasse surveyed the material in New York City. After extensive negotiations the Duke Ellington Collection arrived at the National Museum of American History in April 1988. Objects and artifacts--largely three dimensional materials--are housed in the Museum's Division of Cultural History. Archival material--primarily music manuscripts, paper documents, photographs and audio material -- are housed in the Museum's Archives Center.
The material has been a rich resource for study by Ellington and jazz scholars, musicians, and cultural historians. Drawing largely from the material in the Collection, an exhibit titled Beyond Category: The Life and Genius of Duke Ellington, curated by Dr. John Hasse, opened in the National Museum of American History on Duke Ellington's birthday, April, 28, 1993. The original exhibit plus three panel exhibits, all produced by Smithsonian Institution Traveling Services (SITES), continue to tour the United States.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Phonograph records Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Papers Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographic prints Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Posters Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scrapbooks -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Music -- Manuscripts Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Big bands Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Pianists Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Composers -- 20th century Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Clippings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
New York (N.Y.) -- 20th century Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bandsmen -- 20th century Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Awards Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Audiotapes Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jazz -- 20th century -- United States Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Musicians -- 20th century Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Music -- Performance Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
African American entertainers -- 20th century Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
African Americans -- History Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Popular music -- 20th century -- United States Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Music -- 20th century -- United States Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Harlem (New York, N.Y.) -- 20th century Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
African American musicians Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Washington (D.C.) -- 20th century Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ellington, Mercer Kennedy, 1919-1996 ((musician)) Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Duke Ellington Orchestra Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Musical History, Division of (NMAH, SI) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Strayhorn, Billy (William Thomas), 1915-1967 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Washingtonians, The. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
archivescenter@si.edu
http://americanhistory.si.edu/archives