Edmund Thornton Jenkins Papers

Institution: Columbia College Chicago - Center for Black Music Research
618 South Michigan
Chicago, Illinois 60605
Phone: (312) 369-7586
Date: 1916-1940
Extent: 5.5 Linear Feet
Finding Aid

Biographical/Historical Note:
Edmund Thornton Jenkins was born in Charleston, South Carolina, and studied at the Avery Institute and Morehouse College. He got his early musical training at the Jenkins Orphanage founded by his father, a Baptist minister, and toured with the orphanage band during the summers. Jenkins was able to play every band instrument as well as the violin by the age of 14. After travelling to England with the Jenkins Orphanage Band in 1914, he enrolled at the Royal Academy of Music, studying composition and taking lessons on orchestral instruments. He earned a diploma in 1921. Upon leaving the Academy Jenkins supported himself by playing in jazz bands and dance orchestras in England and later in Paris where he also began his own publishing company, the Anglo-Continental-American Music Press, which published some of his own compositions. Around 1920, Will Marion Cook, a noted American composer and performer of both art music and musical comedy works, invited Jenkins to direct his Southern Syncopated Orchestra, which performed a mixed repertoire of early jazz and classical music and toured Europe (and the States) in 1918–1919. After Jenkins grew disappointed at unsuccessful attempts to establish an audience for black orchestral music in America in 1923–1924, he returned to Europe. His operetta, Afram (1924), and the Negro Symphonie Dramatique, (1925) indicate a renewed focus on concert music late in his short life. He died in Paris in 1926 after an illness.

Scope and Content Note:
The Edmund Thornton Jenkins Papers consist of manuscripts of his musical compositions, printed music of his compositions published at his own press (Anglo-Continental-American Music Press in Paris, France), and one folder of biographical information. Also included are clippings and a program (1940) concerning the concert career of his sister, Mildred Jenkins Haughton, and sheet music (1917–1937 and undated) belonging to her.

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