This collection is comprised of photographic and manuscript materials, primarily created by Eliot Elisofon to document his travels and work. The images portray many aspects of African life and culture including agriculture, wildlife, archaeology, architecture, art and artisans, children, cityscapes and landscapes, leaders, markets, medicine, recreation, ritual and celebration, and transportation. The manuscript materials include correspondence, essays, clippings, puobligations, notes, research, and itineraries.
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.