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Eubie Blake photograph collection

 Collection
Identifier: PP 0301

Abstract

This collection contains over 3,300 photographs and other materials from the estate of Baltimore born composer and pianist James Herbert “Eubie” Blake, circa 1908-1983.

Dates

  • 1908-1983

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Biographical / Historical

James Hubert (Eubie) Blake was born in Baltimore on February 7, 1887and died in Brooklyn, New York on February 12, 1983, a few days before his ninety-sixth birthday. Composer, lyricist, and pianist, he was a major figure in the revival of ragtime and early jazz, returning them to prominence as true American musical genres.

Blake was playing piano professionally and composing by the age of 16. His career began to take shape when he met fellow musician Noble Sissle in 1915. Together, the two of them wrote hundreds of songs, many of which became major hits. Blake and Sissle also collaborated on writing the musical play Shuffle Along, which featured classic songs such as “I’m Just Wild About Harry.” Shuffle Along, Blake and Sissle’s most famous work, was significant not only for reviving the black musical genre, but also for helping launch influential young performers and composers who went on to their own successful careers. Among them were Josephine Baker, Florence Mills, Paul Robeson, and William Grant Still. Many songs from Shuffle Along became great hits and were recorded dozens of times.

Blake gave talks and performed well into his ninety’s. The musical Eubie! based on his songs, appeared in 1978 and became a major Broadway hit. Blake was a frequent guest on The Tonight Show during the 1970s, and among his many awards was the Presidential Medal of Freedom. To recognize his approaching hundredth birthday, the Kennedy Center presented the televised Eubie Blake: A Century of Music, which won an Emmy Award in 1983.

Extent

14.96 Linear Feet (21 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Arrangement

The items in this collection are arranged into eight series by subject and cataloged according to PP catalog numbers.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the Estate of Eubie Blake, 1984.

Related Materials

MS 2800, Eubie Blake manuscript and ephemera collection, 1905-1983

Scope and Contents

The Eubie Blake photograph collection consists of more than 3300 items from the estate of Eubie Blake. The bulk of the materials are photographs, primarily black and white photographic prints. These are identified as “prints” in the container list. There are also color prints and film negatives. The collection also contains some correspondence, ephemera, printed materials, newspaper clippings, and other items.

The collection is broken down into eight series by subject. There is significant overlap of subject matter between series. Click on the links below to jump to a specific series in the container list.

Series I: Shuffle Along and Shuffle Along, Jr.

This series consists of 97 photographs related to Blake and Sissle’s 1921 musical Shuffle Along and Blake’s 1927-1929 Shuffle Along, Jr. Included are images of Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle, Shuffle Along creators Fluornoy Miller and Aubrey Lyles, Blake and Sissle’s manager Al Mayer, members of the cast and crew, and scenes from the productions.

Series II: Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle

This series consists of 216 photographs of Blake and Sissle at various stages of their career together. Includes photographs of the pair with Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Mercer, Sugar Ray Robinson, Shirley Chisholm, Edmond Muskie, W.C. Handy, Jimmy Durante and others.

Series III: Chocolate Dandies and James Reese Europe

This series consists of 93 photographs related to the 1924 Sissle and Blake musical Chocolate Dandies, Bandleader James Reese Europe, and other miscellaneous images related to Eubie Blake’s musical career.

Series IV: Portraits of Eubie

This series consists of 58 images of Eubie Blake from various dates including studio portraits and caricatures.

Series V: Eubie Blake and other Entertainers

This series consists of 206 photographs of Eubie Blake and other entertainers including Pee wee Conway, Thomas “Fats” Waller, the Fabulous Clark Kids, “Ragtime Bob” Darch, Florence Mills and others. There are also two photographs of The Black Yankees and the American Giants, two Negro League Baseball Teams.

Series VI: Eubie Blake with Friends and Family

This series consists of 2,294 images of Eubie Blake with friends - including other entertainers and musicians, his family - primarily his wife Marion Blake, and miscellaneous photographs from Blake’s life. Most of the photographs are snapshots and candid pictures from his personal life. Images include: performances, including the 1971 Newport Jazz Festival, trips to Haiti, Jamaica, and Europe, birthday celebrations, the 1979 TV Special of Eubie!, portraits of Blake, Blake performing for Jackie Onassis, and Blake receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Ronald Reagan. Friends, collaborators, and peers from the entertainment industry include boxers Joe Louis and Sam Langford, Gregory Hines, Louis Armstrong, Romaine Johns, Slappy White, Thomas “Fats” Waller, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Aaron Copland, Helen Hayes, Mike Douglas, Bert Williams, Noble Sissle, Duke Ellington, Bill Cosby, Johnny Mercer, Fluornoy Miller, and Aubrey Lyles.

Series VII: Performances and Events

This series consists of 181 images of Eubie Blake performances from various points of his career. There are also a number of images from the 1978 stage production of Eubie! featuring Gregory Hines, Ethel Beatty and others.

Series VIII: Degree, award and certificate ceremonies

This series consists of 177 images of Eubie Blake at ceremonies receiving honorary degrees, award, and certificates from various universities and organizations. Most date from the 1970s and early 1980s. Included are photographs of Blake with President Jimmy Carter and President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan. There are also a few images of ceremonies unrelated to Eubie Blake.
Title
Guide to the Eubie Blake photograph collection
Status
Under Revision
Author
Micah Connor and Damon Talbot
Date
2016-04
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

Revision Statements

  • 2020-03-06: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Mallory Herberger.

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

Contact:
H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States
4106853750