eSource: Hey, Charleston!

Cover: Hey, Charleston!: The True Story of the Jenkins Orphanage Band
  • Interest Level: Grade 2 - Grade 5

What happened when a former enslaved man took beat-up old instruments and gave them to a bunch of orphans? Thousands of futures got a little brighter and a great American art form was born.

In 1891, Reverend Daniel Joseph Jenkins opened his orphanage in Charleston, South Carolina. He soon had hundreds of children and needed a way to support them. Jenkins asked townspeople to donate old band instruments—some of which had last played in the hands of Confederate soldiers in the Civil War. He found teachers to show the kids how to play. Soon the orphanage had a band. And what a band it was.

The Jenkins Orphanage Band caused a sensation on the streets of Charleston. People called the band’s style of music "rag"—a rhythm inspired by the African American people who lived on the South Carolina and Georgia coast. The children performed as far away as Paris and London, and they earned enough money to support the orphanage that still exists today. They also helped launch the music we now know as jazz.

Hey, Charleston! is the story of the kind man who gave America “some rag” and so much more.

Name Size Format
Hey, Charleston!: Book Resume 124 KB PDF
Hey, Charleston!: CCSS Research Project 1.22 MB PDF
Hey, Charleston!: Classroom Activity 666 KB PDF

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