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W. C. Handy letter to Joe Laurie, Jr., 1944-03-21

 File — Box: 10, Folder: 2

Scope and Contents

This letter from American composer and trumpeter W. C. Handy to American vaudeville performer Joe Laurie, Jr. discusses the entertainment business and Handy's health following a 1943 accident that resulted in the loss of his sight. Handy mentions hearing Laurie perform on the radio and thanks him for tickets to an upcoming event. His letter, a reply to Laurie, references a list of names that included performers Sophie Tucker and Ted Lewis, saying that he "could say something good about every name [Laurie] mentioned." He writes warmly of vaudeville performers, saying that he heard the radio tributes many "old time vaudevillians" paid him during his convalescence and says, "What would my music have been without vaudevillians. Yes, I would walk a mile to get there."


  • Creation: 1944-03-21


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Contact Special Collections for more information.

Biographical / Historical

W. C. Handy was a Black American composer who was the self-proclaimed “Father of the Blues” and composer of “The St. Louis Blues.” He is known for his work in popularizing the blues form and arranging and adapting it for mainstream audiences. Born November 16, 1873 in Florence, Alabama, he became a voice and music instructor at Teachers Agriculture and Mechanical College (later renamed Alabama A&M University) before becoming a blues composer.


Evans, David. "Handy, W(illiam) C(hristopher)." Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 27 Nov. 2023. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.12322.

"W. C. Handy, Blues King, Dies at 84". Lewiston Evening Journal. March 28, 1958. p. A1.


0.167 Cubic Feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Lion Heart Autographs in November 2023.

Processing Information

Processed in November 2023 by Jenelle Clark.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA