The collection consists of correspondence, appointment books, business records, music manuscripts, sound recordings, photographs, and ephemera documenting the activities of Duke Ellington and the management of Tempo Music, Incorporated. There is a small amount of material relating to the Ellingotn family.
The Technical Reference Files comprise an artificial collection that currently contains 1,900 cubic feet of aviation and space related materials, organized in 22 subject series. File materials include photographs, press releases, clippings, correspondence, reports, and brochures, on individuals, organizations, events, and objects.
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.