Guide to the Eubie Blake Letter and Music Manuscripts

Collection ID:
Blake, Eubie (James Herbert), 1883-1983
Dwyer, Lawrence
1969 - 1969
Physical Description:
0.15 Cubic feet
1 folder
Collection consists of one letter and six music manuscripts by James H. "Eubie" Blake.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The collection consists of one handwritten letter by Eubie Blake to Professor John Garvey, director of the University of Illinois Jazz Band, dated August 3, 1969. There are five undated manuscripts in Blake's hand of his arangements for the songs
Poor Archie
Brittwood Rag
March of the Senegalese
, and the W.C. Handy song,
Yellow Dog Blues
. In the letter Blake requests that Garvey, when playing any of these songs (for which he enclosed the manuscripts,) please mention his (Blake's) name as the arranger.
In the letter Blake also mentions
Here Tis
, but that manuscript was not included in this donation.

Collection is arranged in one series.
Series 1: Letter and Music Manuscripts, 1969

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
James Herbert "Eubie" Blake, noted ragtime pianist, was born February 7, 1883 in Baltimore, Maryland. Some government records show his birth year as 1887. His parents Emily "Emma" Johnston and James Sumner Blake had formerly been enslaved. Blake was their only child to live to maturity. Blake learned to play the pump organ and the piano while still a young child. Blake began his career as a pianist, songwriter, and arranger in 1915 in Baltimore playing piano in Aggie Shelton's bordello. He formed a songwritng partnership with Noble Sissle in 1915. In 1921, their musical
Shuffle Along
became a hit on Broadway and ran for fourteen months. Blake's career spanned his entire life. Perhaps his most recognizable song,
I'm Just Wild About Harry
, is considered a standard of the American musical canon. His life was the subject of the Broadway musical,
, that premiered in 1978.
Blake married twice first to Avis Elizabeth Cecelia Lee (1881-1939) the daughter of Lawrence and Florence Lee. After her death from tuberculosis in March 1939, Blake married Marion Gant Tyler (1896-1982), widow of Willie Tyler, violinist, and daughter of James H. Gant and Nattie Thomas, on December 27, 1945 in Norfolk, Virginia. Marion acted as his business manager until her death.
Blake died in Brooklyn, New York, on 1983 February 12. He and Marion are both buried in Cypress Hills Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York.
The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz
, page 114. Death certificate for Avis Blake, dated 1939, New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949," database Family Search, accessed July 5, 2019
Certificate of Marriage for James Hubert Blake and Marion Louise Gant, dated 1945 December 27, Virginia Marriage Certificates, 1936-1988, Family Search, accessed July 5, 2019

Franklin A. Robinson, Jr.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated to the Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution by Lawrence Dwyer in 2016.
Processing Information
Processed by Nelse Greenway, volunteer, 2019; supervised by Franklin A. Robinson, Jr. archivist.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Eubie Blake Letter and Music Manuscripts, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
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.
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Manuscripts -- Music -- 1960-1970 Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Arrangement (Music) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Music -- Manuscripts Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jazz Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Correspondence -- 1960-1970 Type 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