Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Guide to the Edward and Gaye Ellington Collection of Duke Ellington Materials

Collection ID:
Ellington, Edward
Richardson, Deborra A.
Ellington, Gaye
Collection is in
. Some materials in
Physical Description:
9.5 Cubic feet
32 boxes
The collection documents the activities of the Duke Ellington Orchestra under the leadership of both Edward Kennedy (Duke) Ellington and his son Mercer Ellington. Materials include music manuscripts, business records, lyrics, scripts, and other writings, magazine articles, newspaper clippings and photographs.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The Edward and Gaye Ellington collection contains the records of the businesses and material left by their father, Mercer Kennedy Ellington. Ruth Ellington, Duke's sister, and Mercer managed similar aspects of Duke's estate and music. Ruth Ellington managed Tempo Records while Mercer managed Fantasy Records. This collection indicates that there was a distinct line of demarcation between Fantasy Records and Tempo Records. If there were issues of copyright or contractual agreements, the collection contains paperwork covering the matter. There are, however, some overlaps in material particularly in the music manuscripts, photographs and personal papers relating to the Ellington family. The collection is divided into eight series and includes music manuscripts, programs, awards, business records, photographs, slides, correspondence, contracts, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, press releases, catalogues lyrics, scripts and handwritten notes.

The collection is arranged into eight series.
Series 1: Music, Scripts and Compositional Materials, 1928-1974, undated
Subseries 1.2: Published Song Books, 1944, undated
Subseries 1.3: Oversize Scores, undated
Subseries 1.4: Untitled Music Manuscripts, undated
Subseries 1.5: Notes, Scripts, and Compositional Materials, 1963-1967, undated
Series 2: Personal Papers, 1899-1980, undated
Series 3: Photographs, 1933-1974, undated
Series 4: Business Records, 1959-1977, undated
Series 5: Correspondence, 1959-1975, undated
Series 6: Performance Materials, 1957-1978, undated
Series 7: Publicity, 1934-1981, undated
Series 8: Awards and Recognition, 1962-1979

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Edward and Gaye Ellington are the children of the late Mercer Kennedy Ellington. The son of jazz great Edward Kennedy (Duke) Ellington, Mercer continued the musical family legacy as a trumpet player, pianist and composer. A musician from a young age, Mercer led his own bands, as well as his father's Duke Ellington Orchestra. Edward, who played the guitar, often traveled with his grandfather and father on tour. After Duke's passing, Mercer inherited leadership responsibilities of the orchestra. Edward then became a member of the band and continued to work with his father on the road. Mercer managed and controlled Mercer Records and Fantasy Records, and eventually managed Ellington Productions, Incorporated and the Duke Ellington Orchestra. In 2003, Edward and Gaye founded the Duke Ellington Legacy Band. Shortly after the success of the new band, Edward and Gaye created the Duke Ellington Legacy Big Band, an eighteen piece ensemble dedicated to the Ellington sound. The Legacy also produces educational curricula and develops programming and lecture series for the public.

Anne Kuebler, Doretha Williams and Vanessa Broussard Simmons
Processing and encoding funded by a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Collection donated by Edward K. and Gaye Ellington on October 12, 1999
Processing Information
Collection processed by Annie Kuebler, 200-2004 and Rebekah Keel, 2015.
Details have been reported and incorporated for Series 1: Music, Scripts and Compositional Materials based on the notes of Michael Kilpatrick, 2021.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but copyright held by the donors. 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.
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.
Preferred Citation
Edward and Gaye Ellington Collection of Duke Ellington Materials, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.

Related Materials
Materials in the Archives Center
Duke Ellington Collection (AC0301)
Ruth Ellington Collection of Duke Ellington Materials (AC0415)

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974 Personal 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