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Painting of Duke Ellington

view Painting of Duke Ellington digital asset number 1
Depicted:
Ellington, Duke
Maker:
Ellington, Gaye
Physical Description:
canvas (overall material)
wood (overall material)
paint (overall material)
Measurements:
overall: 41 in x 40 in x 5 in; 104.14 cm x 101.6 cm x 12.7 cm
Object Name:
painting
Date made:
1985
Description (Brief):
Acrylic on canvas painting of Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington, done by his granddaughter, Gaye Ellington in 1985. Ms. Ellington painted this posthumous portrait in order to create a memorial that preserved her sense of the creative and loving legacy her grandfather had left her.
In a past interview, Gaye Ellington explained the reasons that led her to create this portrait, even though portraiture is not her usual subject matter: “Ever since my grandfather had died, a lot of people had done art work representing him. They were what other people saw in my grandfather. When I looked at them, they weren’t what I thought about him, and it disturbed me. … A lot of the photographs of him where very serious. I’m not saying he was always happy. But he would turn around in a minute and smile.”
Location:
Currently not on view
Subject:
Jazz
African American
ID Number:
1989.0369.444
Accession number:
1989.0369
Catalog number:
1989.0369.444
See more items in:
Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Popular Entertainment
Art
Highlights from the Culture and the Arts Collection
Data Source:
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmah_1201271

Duke Ellington

view Duke Ellington digital asset number 1
Artist:
Peter Hurd, 22 Feb 1904 - Jul 1984
Sitter:
Duke Ellington, 29 Apr 1899 - 24 May 1974
Medium:
Tempera on board
Dimensions:
Board: 48.3 x 34.3cm (19 x 13 1/2")
Frame: 65.4 x 51.8 x 3.8cm (25 3/4 x 20 3/8 x 1 1/2")
Culture:
Duke Ellington: American\African American
Type:
Painting
Date:
1956
Exhibition Label:
In the first rank of American composers, Duke Ellington was-to use a favorite phrase of his own-"beyond category." He produced what has been called the "single most impressive body of composition in American jazz": more than two thousand compositions that ranged from such popular classics as "Satin Doll" and "Sophisticated Lady" to extended works such as Black, Brown and Beige, which premiered at Carnegie Hall in 1943. Ellington continually expanded his work as a composer and bandleader, composing for Broadway (Beggar's Opera) and Hollywood (including the film score for Anatomy of a Murder); undertaking extensive international tours; and working with younger jazz musicians such as John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach. He received the 1965 Pulitzer Prize for his long-term achievement and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969.
Topic:
Music\Musical instrument\Piano
Personal Attribute\Facial Hair\Mustache
Home Furnishings\Curtain
Costume\Dress Accessory\Tie\Necktie
Duke Ellington: Male
Duke Ellington: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Composer
Duke Ellington: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Pianist
Duke Ellington: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Jazz
Duke Ellington: Presidential Medal of Freedom
Portrait
Credit Line:
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine
Object number:
NPG.78.TC353
Rights:
© Peter Hurd
See more items in:
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Exhibition:
Bravo!
On View:
NPG, South Gallery 321 Mezzanine
Data Source:
National Portrait Gallery
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:npg_NPG.78.TC353

Bust of Duke Ellington

view Bust of Duke Ellington digital asset number 1
Depicted:
Ellington, Duke
Maker:
Dwight, Ed
Physical Description:
bronze (overall material)
Measurements:
overall: 19 in x 29 in x 28 in; 48.26 cm x 73.66 cm x 71.12 cm
Object Name:
sculpture
Place made:
United States: Colorado, Denver
Date made:
1988
Description (Brief):
This bust of American composer and musician Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (1899 - 1974) was made by Ed Dwight in Denver, Colorado in 1988. Made of cast bronze, the sculpture depicts Ellington in a suit and bowtie, arms in a conducting pose, atop a stylized keyboard.
Ed Dwight began his career as a graduate engineer, was a former United States Air Force test pilot who became the first African American to be trained as an astronaut in 1962. Following a career in real estate, computer systems engineering, and consulting, Dwight pursued art and received a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Denver in 1977. Dwight’s works include fine art sculpture, large-scale memorials and public art projects.
Location:
Currently not on view
Subject:
Jazz
African American
Credit Line:
Calvin B. and Marilyn B. Gross
ID Number:
1993.0032.01
Catalog number:
1993.0032.01
Accession number:
1993.0032
See more items in:
Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Art
Highlights from the Culture and the Arts Collection
Data Source:
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmah_607473

Duke Ellington

view Duke Ellington digital asset number 1
Artist:
Philippe Halsman, 1906 - 1979
Sitter:
Duke Ellington, 29 Apr 1899 - 24 May 1974
Medium:
Gelatin silver print
Dimensions:
27.4cm x 34.8cm (10 13/16" x 13 11/16"), Image
Culture:
Duke Ellington: American\African American
Type:
Photograph
Date:
1967
Topic:
Music\Musical instrument\Piano
Equipment\Sound Devices\Microphone
Music\Sheet music
Music\Musical instrument\Drum
Interior\Studio\Recording
Duke Ellington: Male
Duke Ellington: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Composer
Duke Ellington: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Pianist
Duke Ellington: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Jazz
Duke Ellington: Presidential Medal of Freedom
Portrait
Credit Line:
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of George R. Rinhart
Object number:
S/NPG.77.199
Rights:
© Philippe Halsman Archive
See more items in:
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Data Source:
National Portrait Gallery
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:npg_S_NPG.77.199

Duke Ellington

view Duke Ellington digital asset number 1
Artist:
Herman Leonard, 1923 - 2010
Sitter:
Duke Ellington, 29 Apr 1899 - 24 May 1974
Medium:
Selenium-toned gelatin silver print
Dimensions:
Image: 40.6 × 32 cm (16 × 12 5/8")
Sheet: 50.6 × 40.5 cm (19 15/16 × 15 15/16")
Culture:
Duke Ellington: American\African American
Type:
Photograph
Place:
France\Île-de-France\Ville de Paris, Départment de\Paris
Date:
1956 (printed 1998)
Exhibition Label:
When bestowing the ultimate compliment, Duke Ellington favored the phrase “beyond category”—a superlative that aptly described his own musical achievements. The famed jazz composer, bandleader, pianist, and arranger helped to reshape the contours of American music during a career that spanned half a century. Raised in Washington, D.C., Ellington made his professional debut at seventeen. In the 1920s he became a fixture at Harlem’s celebrated Cotton Club and built a large and diverse following when his orchestra’s performances were relayed nationwide via nightly radio broadcasts. His reputation grew internationally with overseas tours in 1933 and 1939. A prolific composer, Ellington is credited with penning a vast body of work, including the classics “In a Sentimental Mood”(1935) and “Satin Doll” (1958) as well as critically acclaimed concert pieces such as Black, Brown, and Beige (which premiered at Carnegie Hall in 1943) and Harlem (A Tone Parallel to Harlem) in 1950.
Para dar a alguien su mejor elogio, Duke Ellington tenía una frase favorita: “más allá de toda categoría”. Este superlativo describe acertadamente sus propios logros musicales. El afamado compositor, director, pianista y arreglista ayudó a reconfigurar el panorama de la música estadounidense a lo largo de una carrera que abarcó medio siglo. Ellington creció en Washington, D.C., y debutó profesionalmente a los diecisiete años. En la década de 1920 se hizo figura habitual del celebrado Cotton Club de Harlem, y cultivó una fanaticada extensa y diversa gracias a que la música de su orquesta se transmitía por radio cada noche a toda la nación. En el ámbito internacional, su reputación se consolidó con giras en 1933 y 1939. Compositor prolífico, se le atribuye un extenso cuerpo de obras que incluyen clásicos como “In a Sentimental Mood” (1935) y “Satin Doll” (1958), así como piezas de concierto de gran éxito crítico como Black, Brown, and Beige (estrenada en Carnegie Hall en 1943) y Harlem (A Tone Parallel to Harlem) de 1950.
Topic:
Interior
Music\Musical instrument\Piano
Duke Ellington: Male
Duke Ellington: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Composer
Duke Ellington: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Pianist
Duke Ellington: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Jazz
Duke Ellington: Presidential Medal of Freedom
Portrait
Credit Line:
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Object number:
NPG.2014.111.9
Rights:
© Herman Leonard Photography LLC
See more items in:
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Data Source:
National Portrait Gallery
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:npg_NPG.2014.111.9

Duke Ellington

view Duke Ellington digital asset number 1
Artist:
William Paul Gottlieb, 28 Jan 1917 - 23 Apr 2006
Sitter:
Duke Ellington, 29 Apr 1899 - 24 May 1974
Medium:
Gelatin silver print
Dimensions:
Image: 34.1 x 26.7 cm (13 7/16 x 10 1/2")
Sheet: 35.3 x 27.9 cm (13 7/8 x 11")
Mat: 71.1 x 55.9 cm (28 x 22")
Culture:
Duke Ellington: American\African American
Type:
Photograph
Date:
c. 1946 (printed 1991)
Exhibition Label:
Duke Ellington was a jazz pianist and America’s greatest composer. He maintained his cool through an elegant aristocratic front that refused to recognize the country’s entrenched racism. Born and raised in the nation’s capital, Ellington established a national audience with a residency at Harlem’s Cotton Club. He wrote dance songs, three-minute concertos, spiritual works, thematic compositions about black life and culture, classics of the American songbook, and extended suites featuring Asian and Latin American motifs. His main instrument was his orchestra: he wrote for musicians as individuals. When he left space on the music score to improvise ("ad lib here"), he validated jazz as a democratic musical form. In 1965 he was denied a Pulitzer Prize by a judge who refused to give it to a black man. "Fate doesn’t want me to be famous too young," was his diplomatic reply. He is still worshipped by musicians the world over.
Topic:
Costume
Music\Musical instrument\Piano
Printed Material\Document
Artwork\Photograph
Container\Bottle
Home Furnishings\Mirror
Interior\Dressing room
Music\Sheet music
Duke Ellington: Male
Duke Ellington: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Composer
Duke Ellington: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Pianist
Duke Ellington: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Jazz
Duke Ellington: Presidential Medal of Freedom
Portrait
Credit Line:
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Object number:
NPG.92.58
See more items in:
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Data Source:
National Portrait Gallery
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:npg_NPG.92.58

Duke Ellington

Title: God is Love
view Duke Ellington digital asset number 1
Artist:
Tony Bennett, born 3 Aug 1926
Sitter:
Duke Ellington, 29 Apr 1899 - 24 May 1974
Medium:
Watercolor and graphite on paper
Dimensions:
Sheet: 36 x 51 cm (14 3/16 x 20 1/16")
Mat: 55.9 x 71.1 cm (22 x 28")
Culture:
Duke Ellington: American\African American
Type:
Drawing
Date:
c. 1993
Exhibition Label:
In the first rank of American composers, Duke Ellington was "beyond category": his more than 2,000 jazz compositions include "Satin Doll" and "Sophisticated Lady," as well as Black, Brown and Beige and the later "Sacred Concerts." Legendary performer Tony Bennett (born Anthony Benedetto), who has had a lifelong interest in painting, here portrays the man he celebrated as his mentor. "When I worked on his portrait, I was inspired by the look of divine serenity on his face," Bennett noted, and he inscribed the painting, "God Is Love." Whenever Ellington completed a new piece, he sent Bennett roses to mark the occasion, and their presence here reflects the close bond the two artists shared.
Topic:
Nature & Environment\Plant\Flower\Rose
Duke Ellington: Male
Duke Ellington: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Composer
Duke Ellington: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Pianist
Duke Ellington: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Jazz
Duke Ellington: Presidential Medal of Freedom
Portrait
Credit Line:
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Tony Bennett
Object number:
S/NPG.2008.99
Rights:
Deed of Gift transfers copyright to NPG
See more items in:
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Data Source:
National Portrait Gallery
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:npg_S_NPG.2008.99

22c Duke Ellington single

Title: Scott Catalogue USA 2211
view 22c Duke Ellington single digital asset number 1
Depicts:
Duke Ellington, American, 1899 - 1974
Medium:
paper; ink (multicolored); adhesive / photogravure
Type:
Postage Stamps
Place:
United States of America
Date:
April 29, 1986
Description:
mint
Topic:
Music & Musicians
Black Heritage
Credit line:
Copyright United States Postal Service. All rights reserved.
Object number:
1999.2004.482
See more items in:
National Postal Museum Collection
Data Source:
National Postal Museum
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:npm_1999.2004.482

Duke Ellington's Greatest Hits

view <I>Duke Ellington's Greatest Hits</I> digital asset number 1
Distributed by:
Reprise Records, American, founded 1960
Recorded by:
Duke Ellington, American, 1899 - 1974
Owned by:
Ginger Smock, American, 1920 - 1995
Medium:
vinyl, ink on paper
Dimensions:
H x W (album jacket): 12 5/16 × 12 5/16 in. (31.3 × 31.3 cm)
Diameter (record): 12 in. (30.5 cm)
Type:
long-playing records
Date:
1967
Description:
A twelve-inch 33 1/3 rpm LP recording of the album "Duke Ellington's Greatest Hits" recorded by Duke Ellington. The front of the album jacket is white with blue, black and green text. A color image of Duke Ellington is on the left side. He is standing in front of a microphone slightly off center and has his arms raised.
Topic:
African American
Composers (Musicians)
Conductors (Musicians)
Instrumentalists (Musicians)
Jazz (Music)
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture, Gift of Lydia Samuel Bennett
Object number:
2016.161.3.10ab
Rights:
Unknown - Restrictions Possible
See more items in:
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Classification:
Media Arts-Audio Recordings
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmaahc_2016.161.3.10ab
Additional Online Media:

Letter to the Musicians' Protective Association from Duke Ellington

view Letter to the Musicians' Protective Association from Duke Ellington digital asset number 1
Written by:
Duke Ellington, American, 1899 - 1974
Received by:
American Federation of Musicians, founded 1896
Medium:
ink on paper
Dimensions:
H x W: 11 x 8 1/2 in. (27.9 x 21.6 cm)
Type:
business letters
Place depicted:
Los Angeles, California, United States, North and Central America
Date:
May 10, 1942
Description:
A two page letter from Duke Ellington to the Musicians' Protective Association, Local 767 written May 10, 1942. In the letter Duke Ellington files a claim against three parties to recover money owed him for arrangements of five numbers made for the show "Jump For Joy": He writes: "I am informed that the title of 'Jump for Joy,' the show and certain assets thereof are being sold at the office of Attorney Leo Gold in the Fox Building . . ." Ellington sought $1800 from the parties named in the suit, for arrangements of "Suntan Tenth of a Nation," "Two Left Feet," "Uncle Tom's Cabin," The Emperor's Bones," and "Cymbal Sockin' Sam."
Topic:
African American
Business
Correspondence
Jazz (Music)
Justice
Labor
Law
Musicians
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Object number:
2011.57.32ab
Rights:
No Known Copyright Restrictions
See more items in:
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Classification:
Documents and Published Materials
Exhibition:
Musical Crossroads
On View:
NMAAHC (1400 Constitution Ave NW), National Mall Location, Culture/Fourth Floor, 4 053
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmaahc_2011.57.32ab
Additional Online Media:

Duke Ellington, Dizzie Gillespie, Buck Clayton and Max Kaminsky

view Duke Ellington, Dizzie Gillespie, Buck Clayton and Max Kaminsky digital asset number 1
Artist:
Gjon Mili, 28 Nov 1904 - 14 Feb 1984
Sitter:
Duke Ellington, 29 Apr 1899 - 24 May 1974
Dizzy Gillespie, 21 Oct 1917 - 6 Jan 1993
Buck Clayton, 12 Nov 1911 - 8 Dec 1991
Max Kaminsky, 1908 - 6 Sep 1994
Medium:
Gelatin silver print
Dimensions:
Image/Sheet: 26.9 x 33.9cm (10 9/16 x 13 3/8")
Mat: 40.6 x 55.9cm (16 x 22")
Culture:
Duke Ellington: American\African American
Dizzy Gillespie: American\African American
Buck Clayton: American\African American
Type:
Photograph
Place:
United States\New York\Kings\New York
Date:
1944
Exhibition Label:
Born Washington, D.C.
"Music is my mistress, and she plays second fiddle to no one," exclaimed the famed composer, bandleader, and pianist Duke Ellington. During a career that spanned six decades, he rose to international stardom and helped to reshape the contours of American music. Raised in Washington, D.C., Ellington formed his first jazz band at age nineteen. He made a name for himself in the late 1920s at the Cotton Club in Harlem, where he performed a regular gig that was broadcast nationally on the radio. With songs such as "Solitude" and "In a Sentimental Mood," Ellington achieved widespread popularity with diverse audiences. He first performed abroad in 1933, and so successful were his concerts that he later toured the globe under the auspices of the U.S. State Department. In this photograph, Ellington is seated at the piano; playing trumpet beside him are the famed musicians Dizzy Gillespie (left) and Buck Clayton (right).
Topic:
Music\Musical instrument\Piano
Costume\Dress Accessory\Eyeglasses
Equipment\Sound Devices\Microphone
Interior\Studio
Music\Musical instrument\Trumpet
Music\Musical instrument\Trombone
Music\Musical instrument\Saxophone
Music\Musical instrument\Drum
Music\Musical instrument\Bass
Music\Musical instrument\Clarinet
Home Furnishings\Furniture\Seating\Chair\Folding chair
Duke Ellington: Male
Duke Ellington: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Composer
Duke Ellington: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Pianist
Duke Ellington: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Jazz
Duke Ellington: Presidential Medal of Freedom
Dizzy Gillespie: Male
Dizzy Gillespie: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Jazz
Dizzy Gillespie: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Horn\Trumpet
Buck Clayton: Male
Buck Clayton: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Composer
Buck Clayton: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Jazz
Buck Clayton: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Horn\Trumpet
Buck Clayton: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Arranger
Max Kaminsky: Male
Max Kaminsky: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Jazz
Max Kaminsky: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Horn\Trumpet
Portrait
Credit Line:
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Object number:
NPG.95.98
Rights:
© Gjon Mili/TimePix
See more items in:
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Data Source:
National Portrait Gallery
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:npg_NPG.95.98

[Duke Ellington portrait : black-and-white photoprint], 1969

view [Duke Ellington portrait : black-and-white photoprint], 1969 digital asset number 1
Creator:
Bachrach, Fabian 1917-2010
Subject:
Ellington, Duke 1899-1974
Physical description:
Silver gelatin on paper
7 items : photoprints, 10" x 8"
Culture:
African Americans
Type:
Publicity photographs
Photographs
Date:
1969
20th century
1960-1970
Summary:
7 nearly identical prints from same negative: Ellington wearing jacket and tie, with large cufflinks on shirt, with a sheet of music on the table. Five of the prints are warm-toned without identification; two cold-tone prints, probably intended as publicity photographs, bear Fabian Bachrach's imprint on the front and rubber stamp on the verso.
Cite as:
Duke Ellington Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Topic:
Musicians
Composers
African American composers
Local number:
AC0301-0000028.tif (AC Scan No.)
See more items in:
Duke Ellington Collection Photographs (Series 7), ca. 1924-1972
Data Source:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_285506

Hamlet [music manuscript.]

view Hamlet [music manuscript.] digital asset number 1
Composer:
Ellington, Duke 1899-1974
Physical description:
Ink and pencil on paper
1 item
Type:
Manuscripts
Holographs
Date:
1957
20th century
Summary:
At top of score: "April 15th, 1957 / Started 12 Midnite / Income Tax Day Stopped 3:05 a.m."
Note: this record duplicates part of the complete record for this composition.
Cite as:
Duke Ellington Collection, 1928-1988, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Topic:
Mental illness
Music
Local number:
AC0301-0000006.tif (AC Scan No.)
See more items in:
Duke Ellington Collection Music Manuscripts (Series 1), ca. 1930-1981
Data Source:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_285424

Duke Ellington Collection

view Duke Ellington Collection digital asset: Duke Ellington Collection
Creator:
Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974
Names:
Duke Ellington Orchestra.
Washingtonians, The.
Ellington, Mercer Kennedy (musician), 1919-1996
Strayhorn, Billy (William Thomas), 1915-1967
Collector:
Musical History, Division of (NMAH, SI).
Extent:
400 cubic feet
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Place:
Harlem (New York, N.Y.)--20th century
New York (N.Y.)--20th century
Washington (D.C.)--20th century
Date:
1903-1989
Summary:
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 note:
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 note:
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 note:
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.

In his early teens, Ellington sneaked into Washington clubs and performance halls where he was exposed to ragtime musicians, including James P. Johnson, and where he met people from all walks of life. He returned in earnest to his piano studies, and at age fourteen wrote his first composition, "Soda Fountain Rag" also known as "Poodle Dog Rag." Ellington was earning income from playing music at seventeen years of age, and around this time he earned the sobriquet "Duke" for his sartorial splendor and regal air. On July 2, 1918, he married a high school sweetheart, Edna Thompson; their only child, Mercer Kennedy Ellington, was born on March 11, 1919. Duke Ellington spent the first twenty-four years of his life in Washington's culturally thriving Negro community. In this vibrant atmosphere he was inspired to be a composer and learned to take pride in his African-American heritage.

Ellington moved to New York City in 1923 to join and eventually lead a small group of transplanted Washington musicians called "The Washingtonians," which included future Ellington band members, Sonny Greer, Otto Hardwicke and "Bubber" Miley. Between 1923 and 1927, the group played at the Club Kentucky on Broadway and the ensemble increased from a quintet to a ten-piece orchestra. With stride pianist Willie "The Lion" Smith as his unofficial guide, Ellington soon became part of New York's music scene; Smith proved to be a long-lasting influence on Duke's composing and arranging direction. At the Club Kentucky, Ellington came under the tutelage of another legendary stride pianist, "Fats" Waller. Waller, a protege of Johnson and Smith, played solos during the band's breaks and also tutored Ellington who began to show progress in his compositions. In November 1924, Duke made his publishing and recording debut with "Choo Choo (I Got To Hurry Home)" released on the Blu-Disc label. In 1925, he contributed two songs to Chocolate Kiddies, an all-black revue which introduced European audiences to black American styles and performers. By this time Ellington's family, Edna and Mercer, had joined him in New York City. The couple separated in the late 1920's, but they never divorced or reconciled.

Ellington's achievements as a composer and bandleader began to attract national attention while he worked at the Cotton Club in Harlem, New York City, from 1927 to 1932. The orchestra developed a distinctive sound that displayed the non-traditional voicings of Ellington's arrangements and featured the unique talents of the individual soloists. Ellington integrated his soloists' exotic-sounding trombone growls and wah-wahs, their high-squealed trumpets, their sultry saxophone blues licks and Harlem's street rhythms into his arrangements. In the promotional material of the Cotton Club, the band was often billed as "Duke Ellington and His Jungle Band." With the success of compositions like "Mood Indigo," and an increasing number of recordings and national radio broadcasts from the Cotton Club, the band's reputation soared.

The ten years from 1932 to 1942 are considered by some major critics to represent the "golden age" for the Ellington Orchestra, but it represents just one of their creative peaks. These years did bring an influx of extraordinary new talent to the band including Jimmy Blanton on double bass, Ben Webster on tenor saxophone, and Ray Nance on trumpet, violin and vocals. During this ten year span Ellington composed several of his best known short works, including "Concerto For Cootie," "Ko-Ko," "Cotton Tail," "In A Sentimental Mood," and Jump For Joy, his first full-length musical stage revue.

Most notably, 1938 marked the arrival of Billy Strayhorn. While a teenager in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Strayhorn had already written "Lush Life," "Something To Live For" and a musical, Fantastic Rhythm. Ellington was initially impressed with Strayhorn's lyrics but realized long before Billy's composition "Take the A' Train" became the band's theme song in 1942 that Strayhorn's talents were not limited to penning clever lyrics. By 1942, "Swee' Pea" had become arranger, composer, second pianist, collaborator, and as Duke described him, "my right arm, my left arm, all the eyes in the back of my head, my brain waves in his head, and his in mine." Many Ellington/Strayhorn songs have entered the jazz canon, and their extended works are still being discovered and studied today. Strayhorn remained with the Ellington Organization until his death on May 30, 1967.

Ellington had often hinted of a work in progress depicting the struggle of blacks in America. The original script, Boola, debuted in Carnegie Hall in November of 1943, retitled Black, Brown and Beige. The performance met with mixed reviews, and although Ellington often returned to Carnegie Hall the piece was never recorded in a studio, and after 1944 was never performed in entirety again by the Ellington Orchestra. Nonetheless, it is now considered a milestone in jazz composition.

After World War II the mood and musical tastes of the country shifted and hard times befell big bands, but Ellington kept his band together. The band was not always financially self-sufficient and during the lean times Ellington used his songwriting royalties to meet the soloists' salaries. One could assign to Ellington the altruistic motive of loyalty to his sidemen, but another motivation may have been his compositional style which was rooted in hearing his music in the formative stage come alive in rehearsal. "The band was his instrument," Billy Strayhorn said, and no Ellington composition was complete until he heard the orchestra play it. Then he could fine tune his compositions, omit and augment passages, or weave a soloist's contribution into the structure of the tune.

In 1956, the American public rediscovered Duke and the band at the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island. The searing performances of tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves on "Diminuendo and Crescendo In Blue," his premiere soloist, alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges on "Jeep's Blues", and the crowd's ecstatic reaction have become jazz legend. Later that year Duke landed on the cover of Time magazine. Although Ellington had previously written music for film and television (including the short film, Black and Tan Fantasy in 1929) it wasn't until 1959 that Otto Preminger asked him to score music for his mainstream film, Anatomy of a Murder, starring Jimmy Stewart. Paris Blues in 1961, featuring box-office stars Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier in roles as American jazz musicians in Paris, followed.

Ellington's first performance overseas was in England in 1933, but the 1960s brought extensive overseas tours including diplomatic tours sponsored by the State Department. Ellington and Strayhorn composed exquisite extended works reflecting the sights and sounds of their travels, including the Far East Suite, 1966. They wrote homages to their classical influences; in 1963, they adapted Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite and celebrated Shakespeare's works with the suite Such Sweet Thunder in 1957. With Ella Fitzgerald, they continued the Norman Granz Songbook Series. Ellington also began to flex his considerable pianist skills and recorded albums with John Coltrane (1963), Coleman Hawkins (1963), Frank Sinatra, and Money Jungle (1963) with Charles Mingus and Max Roach. The First Sacred Concert debuted in San Francisco's Grace Cathedral in 1965. In his final years, Ellington's thoughts turned to spiritual themes and he added a Second (1968) and Third (1973) Concert of Sacred Music to his compositions.

In his lifetime, Duke received numerous awards and honors including the highest honor bestowed on an American civilian, the Congressional Medal Of Freedom. In 1965, Ellington was recommended for a Pulitzer Prize to honor his forty years of contribution to music but the recommendation was rejected by the board. Most likely he was disappointed, but his response at the age of sixty-six was, "Fate is being kind to me. Fate doesn't want me to be famous too young."

Ellington never rested on his laurels or stopped composing. Whenever he was asked to name his favorite compositions his characteristic reply was "the next five coming up," but to please his loyal fans Ellington always featured some of his standards in every performance. Even on his deathbed, he was composing the opera buffo called Queenie Pie.

Duke Ellington died on May 24, 1974 at seventy-five years of age. His funeral was held in New York's Cathedral of St. John The Divine; he was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery. His long-time companion Beatrice "Evie" Ellis was buried beside him after her death in 1976. He was survived by his only child, Mercer Kennedy Ellington, who not only took up the baton to lead the Duke Ellington Orchestra but assumed the task of caring for his father's papers and his legacy to the nation. Mercer Ellington died in Copenhagan, Denmark on February 8, 1996, at the age of seventy-six. Ruth Ellington Boatwright died in New York on March 6, 2004, at the age of eighty-eight. Both Mercer and Ruth were responsible for shepherding the documents and artifacts that celebrate Duke Ellington's genius and creative life to their current home in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.
Related Archival Materials note:
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

Institute of Jazz Studies

Websites

Billy Strayhorn Website

Duke Ellington Society
Separated Materials note:
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.
Provenance:
The collection was purchased through an appropriation of Congress in 1988.
Restrictions:
The collection is open for research.
Rights:
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.
Topic:
African American entertainers--20th century
African American musicians
African Americans--History
Bandsmen--20th century
Big bands
Composers--20th century
Jazz--20th century--United States
Music--20th century--United States
Music--Performance
Musicians--20th century
Pianists
Popular music--20th century--United States
Genre/Form:
Audiotapes
Awards
Clippings
Music--Manuscripts
Papers
Phonograph records
Photographic prints
Posters
Scrapbooks--20th century
Sound recordings
Citation:
Duke Ellington Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0301
See more items in:
Duke Ellington Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0301
Additional Online Media:

Mood Indigo [music manuscript]

view Mood Indigo [music manuscript] digital asset number 1
Composer:
Ellington, Duke 1899-1974
Physical description:
Ink on paper
1 item
Type:
Manuscripts
Holographs
Date:
1928
1974
20th century
Summary:
Note: this record duplicates part of the complete record for this composition.
Fragment, piano score.
Cite as:
Duke Ellington Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Topic:
Music
Local number:
AC0301-0000001.tif (AC Scan No.)
See more items in:
Duke Ellington Collection Music Manuscripts (Series 1), ca. 1930-1981
Data Source:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_285416

Little Joe from Chicago [music]

view Little Joe from Chicago [music] digital asset number 1
Composer:
Williams, Mary Lou 1910-
Wells, Henry
Composer?:
Strayhorn, Billy (William Thomas) 1915-1967
Physical description:
13 manuscripts, 32 cm
1 copy score, 32 cm
Type:
Conductor scores
Copy scores
Manuscripts
Music
Parts (musical)
Place:
United States
Chicago (Ill.)
Date:
19||
20th century
Notes:
A part for "I'll see you in my dreams" is noted on the verso of the bass part. Handwriting and other details have been reported based on the notes of David Berger, Andrew Homzy, Dr. Theodore Hudson, Walter van de Leur, and Dr. Mark Tucker.
Unsigned Strayhorn composition.
Statement of responsibility taken from Popular Music, 1920-1979, ed. by Nat Shapiro.
Summary:
13 parts and 1 score.
Little Joe from Chicago is contained in one folder consisting of 1 two-page conductor score in Bb Major concert, and 13 parts in G Major concert -- in ink and pencil -- in unidentified hand (Whaley, other?).
Score indicates parts for alto 1, alto 3, tenor, tenor 2, baritone, trumpet. Score appears incomplete. Parts for 4 reeds - alto 1, alto 3, tenor, alto 4; 3 trumpets - 1, 2, 3; 3 trombones - 1, 2, 3; bass; guitar; piano. -- from the Duke Ellington Library.
Topic:
Music
Local number:
AC0301-0000078.tif (AC Scan No.?)
See more items in:
Duke Ellington Collection Music Manuscripts (Series 1), ca. 1930-1981
Data Source:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_169206

Transit pass for St. Louis Public Service Company depicting Duke Ellington

view Transit pass for St. Louis Public Service Company depicting Duke Ellington digital asset number 1
Created by:
St. Louis Public Service Company, American, 1927 - 1966
Subject of:
Duke Ellington, American, 1899 - 1974
Pine Street YMCA, American, 1919 - 1955
Medium:
ink on wove paper
Dimensions:
H x W: 2 1/8 x 3 5/8 in. (5.4 x 9.2 cm)
Type:
passes (tickets)
Place depicted:
Municipal Auditorium, Saint Louis, Missouri, United States, North and Central America
Date:
April 1941
Description:
Transit pass for the St. Louis Public Service Company depicting Duke Ellington. The pass features information about the Y Camp Benefit Circus featuring Duke Ellington and his Famous Orchestra. The pass is half-cream colored, half-green web patterned pass with additional text and a graphic of Duke Ellington on left.
Topic:
African American
Jazz (Music)
Recreation
Transportation
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Object number:
2010.34.19
Rights:
No Known Copyright Restrictions
See more items in:
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Classification:
Memorabilia and Ephemera
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmaahc_2010.34.19
Additional Online Media:

Mood Indigo [music manuscript.]

view Mood Indigo [music manuscript.] digital asset number 1
Creator:
Ellington, Duke 1899-1974
Physical description:
Pencil and ink on paper
1 item
Type:
Manuscripts
Holographs
Date:
1928
1974
20th century
Summary:
Note: this record duplicates part of the complete record for this composition.
In Ellington's hand.
Cite as:
Duke Ellington Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Topic:
Music
Local number:
AC0301-0000005.tif (AC Scan No.)
See more items in:
Duke Ellington Collection Music Manuscripts (Series 1), ca. 1930-1981
Data Source:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_285422

Hamlet--Madness [music manuscript]

view Hamlet--Madness [music manuscript] digital asset number 1
Composer:
Ellington, Mercer Kennedy (musician) 1919-1996
Subject:
Ellington, Mercer Kennedy (musician) 1919-1996
Physical description:
Ink on paper
1 item
Type:
Manuscripts
Holographs
Date:
1950
20th century
Summary:
Marked "Mercer" below title.
Note: this record duplicates part of the complete record for this composition.
Cite as:
Duke Ellington Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Topic:
Mental illness
Music
Local number:
AC0301-0000007.tif (AC Scan No.)
See more items in:
Duke Ellington Collection Music Manuscripts (Series 1), ca. 1930-1981
Data Source:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_arc_285426

Ruth Ellington Collection of Duke Ellington Materials

view Ruth Ellington Collection of Duke Ellington Materials digital asset: La Scala, She Too Pretty To Be Blue
Creator:
Ellington, Ruth, (Ruth Ellington Boatwright), 1915-
Names:
Tempo Music, Inc.
Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974
Extent:
33 cubic feet (77 boxes, 3 oversize folders)
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Date:
1923–1992
Summary:
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.
Scope and Contents note:
The Ruth Ellington Collection of Duke Ellington Materials includes music manuscripts (circa 1930-1981), sound recordings, Duke and Ruth Ellington's business and personal correspondence (1942-1991), business records covering the years 1923-1988, performances and programs covering the years 1951-1989, numerous awards and honors to Ellington and the orchestra, and personal papers relating to the Ellington family. Also among the materials are minutes of business meetings, letters, and newspaper clippings relating to the Duke Ellington Society in New York city, the certificate of incorporation and invitations for the Ellington Cancer Center, and slides, film, and home videos. The collection is arranged into eleven series.
Arrangement note:
Divided into eleven series:

Series 1: Music Manuscripts, Scripts and Compositional Materials, 1930-1981, undated

Subseries 1.1: Music Manuscripts, undated

Subseries 1.2: Published Books, 1943-1986, undated

Subseries 1.3: Oversize Materials, undated

Subseries 1.4: Music Manuscript Notebooks and Untitled Music, undated

Subseries 1.5: Tempo Music, Incorporated Copyright Sheets of Non-Ellington Material, undated

Subseries 1.6: Uncopyrighted Submissions, 1958-2002, undated

Subseries 1.7: Notes, Scripts and Compositions, 1958-1969, undated

Series 2: Business Records, 1923-1988, undated

Series 3: Performance Materials, 1951-1989, undated

Series 4: Publicity, 1935-1992, undated

Series 5: Awards and Recognition, 1936-1989, undated

Series 6: Correspondence, 1942-1991, undated

Series 7: Photographs, 1937-1990, undated

Series 8: Family Papers, 1911-1981, undated

Series 9: Other Artists, 1955-1986, undated

Series 10: Harry Carney Materials, 1938-1959

Series 11: Audiovisual Materials, circa 1946-1970

Subseries 11.1: Sound Recordings, circa 1946-1970

Sub-subseries 11.1.1: Duke Ellington Concerts

Sub-subseries 11.1.2: Duke Ellington Volumes 1 through 58

Sub-subseries 11.1.3: Duke Ellington and His Orchestra

Sub-subseries 11.1.4: Duke Ellington Jazz Society Guest Talks

Sub-subseries 11.1.5: Interviews

Sub-subseries 11.1.6: Miscellaneous

Sub-subseries 11.1.7: Non-Ellington Materials

Sub-subseries 11.1.8: 16" Transcription Discs

Subseries 11.2: Moving Images, 1929 - 1970
Biographical/Historical note:
Born in 1915, Ruth Dorothea Ellington Boatwright was the sister and only sibling of Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington. Sheltered and doted upon, she was almost sixteen years younger than her brother. She attended elementary and junior high schools in the Washington Metropolitan area and finished her basic schooling in New York City where the family moved in the early 1930s. Her mother, Daisy, died there in 1935, followed by her father, J. E. in 1937. Sometime after those life altering events, Ms. Ellington graduated from the New College program at Columbia University with a degree in biology.

In 1941, Duke Ellington established Tempo Music, and surprised his sister Ruth, by installing her as president of the company. He had a strong desire to maintain control of his own publishing, television, and recording rights, and after his sister's graduation, Duke felt that she could assist in accomplishing this goal.

Ruth's duties at Tempo included signing contracts, arranging some travel at Duke's request, and, most importantly, keeping Duke's music copyrighted. According to her own interview statement, she never arranged bookings. Other interests included hosting a Sunday salon for musicians, appearing at and listening to recording studio sessions once or twice a year, and keeping in touch with the older band members' wives. The older band members (i. e., Johnny Hodges, Harry Carney, Otto Hardwick, and Arthur Wetsol) along with the earlier singers (Ivie Anderson, Joya Sherrill, Marie Cole, and Kay Davis) were like family to Ruth.

In the 1950's, she was host of a radio program on WLIB in New York on which she interviewed guests including the writer Ralph Ellison.

Ruth Ellington's first marriage to Daniel James, a journalist and political scientist, produced two sons Michael and Stephen James. This marriage ended in divorce and she later married McHenry Boatwright, an operatic baritone. Boatright died in 1994.

Ruth was active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She was a founder of the jazz ministry of St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Manhattan and a friend of the first designated jazz pastor, the Reverend John Garcia Gensel.

After Duke's death in 1974, Ruth maintained Tempo until 1995 when she sold fifty one percent of the company to a New York publishing firm, Music Sales. Ruth Dorothea Ellington Boatwright died in 2004 at the age of 88 in Manhattan. She was survived by her two sons.
Provenance:
The collection was donated to the National Museum of American History in 1991. A second set of materials was received from Ruth Ellington Boatwright in 1993.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research. Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves. Copyright restrictions. Contact staff for information. Only reference copies of audiovisual materials are available for use.
Rights:
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.
Topic:
Jazz
Jazz musicians--United States
Music--20th century
Musicians--United States
Genre/Form:
Audiotapes
Business records--20th century
Correspondence--1930-1950
Music.
Photographs--20th century
Citation:
Ruth Ellington Collection, 1923-1992, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0415
See more items in:
Ruth Ellington Collection of Duke Ellington Materials
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0415
Additional Online Media:

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