Born in Washington, D.C., Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington rose to fame at Harlem's Cotton Club in the late 1920s. His career as a musician, composer and bandleader spanned more than 50 years. Among his many compositions are hundreds of short pieces and more ambitious extended works, including operas, ballets, musicals, concert pieces (such as "Black, Brown and Beige") and the "Sacred Concerts." Duke Ellington and his orchestra toured the United States and made frequent successful tours abroad. He was decorated with numerous awards and honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom (presented by Pres. Nixon, 1969). Duke Ellington led his orchestra until his death, when it was taken over by his son, Mercer.
Orchestrations (scores and parts), music manuscripts, lead sheets, transcriptions, and sheet music make up some of the Duke Ellington Collection. 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, all from the heyday of Duke Ellington (1920's-1975).
Duke Ellington Collection, 1903-1989, Archives Center, National Museum of American History