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Born in Nuneaton in 1944, raised in northwest London, Jeffrey Green worked in Uganda 1968-1970, travelled to Zimbabwe and Cape Town, and spent three months around the U.S.A. by Greyhound bus, returning to work in London, Northamptonshire then Sussex as an export manager for two British manufacturers. His liking for black jazz of the 1920s led him back to South Carolina in search of information for London jazz historian John Chilton.
Documents obtained in Charleston, S.C. assisted Chilton whose A Jazz Nursery: The Story of the Jenkins’ Orphanage Bands was published in 1980 (and is dedicated to Green). Green researched the story of one of the sons of that orphanage’s founder, and in 1982 had Edmund Thornton Jenkins: The Life and Times of an American Black Composer, 1894-1926 published by Greenwood Press. Jenkins had attended the Royal Academy of Music, London from 1914 to 1921. During that research contacts were made with veterans, and the children of veterans, often of West Indian descent. Enthused by research he looked into the activities of other black people in Britain in the early 20th century. Since 1982 he has published widely, broadcast on radio and television, and attended conferences.
Multiple articles were published in Storyville (London), the Black Perspective in Music (New York), the Black Music Research Journal (Chicago), Immigrants and Minorities and New Community (London). A 1984 London Institute of Education paper was rewritten and published by the Journal of Caribbean History (“West Indian Doctors in London”: June 1986).
He got to know Miss Amy Barbour-James, born of Guyanese parents in London in 1906, and the Jamaican Leslie Thompson who had settled in London in 1929 aged 28. He helped edit Thompson’s autobiography, which was republished in 2009 (Swing from a Small Island: The Leslie Thompson Story London: Northway Publications). Another veteran, Frank Alcindor, born in London in 1912, had been 12 when his Trinidad-born doctor father John Alcindor died, but his mother had spent the war years with Frank’s fiancee who added details. The results were published in Immigrants and Minorities (July 1987) as well as in that “West Indian Doctors” article.
John Barbour-James had transferred in the colonial post office to Ghana (then the Gold Coast) where he worked from 1902 to 1917. That black West Indians had management roles in colonial West Africa was not well known, but Ghana Studies Bulletin published an article. In checking the British Guiana newspapers he found out about Oxford law student Edward Nelson who became an officer of the Oxford Union in 1900 (New Community published an article). In May 2010 the National Portrait Gallery, London, accepted his donation of two original Barbour-James photographs: Amy B-J in the 1930s, and her parents ca 1905.
Christopher Fyfe, Reader in African Studies at the University of Edinburgh suggested that, having written about Jenkins, Green’s attention should be on another black composer in Britain, the London-born son of a Sierra Leonean doctor, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Green added the music library in Buckingham Palace Road to his haunts and started detailed research on Coleridge-Taylor. Invited by Paul McGilchrist to accompany him to the Royal College of Music Black Perspective in Music published two articles – for editor Eileen Southern was well aware of Coleridge-Taylor’s importance for black Americans.
Green edited the Coleridge-Taylor edition of Black Music Research Journal (Vol 21, No 2 Fall 2001).
Pickering and Chatto of London published his Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a Musical Life in 2011.
In 1998 Frank Cass published Green’s Black Edwardians: Black People in Britain, 1901-1914. It included almost 50 photographs. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography commissioned over 30 articles. Other articles were published in the Oxford Companion to Black British History and the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz. History Today had “Before the Windrush” (October 2000). Radio, television and public lectures (Museum of London, National Trust, British Library, East Yorkshire Record Office, University of Houston, Charleston Jazz Initiative) continued.
Another book, a study of six Congo pygmies, the big-game hunting colonel who brought them to England in 1905, and the interpreter who worked with them for half of the 30 months they spent in Britain and Germany, awaits a publisher. They have been outlined by Green in History Today (August 1995) and in Bernth Lindfors (ed), Africans on Stage (Indiana University Press, 1999) as well as in Black Edwardians. He presented a paper on them at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, in early 2009.
Green is involved with the Black Europe project to document the sounds and images of black people in Europe before 1928, a planned boxed set of 40+ CDs and an illustrated book that is scheduled to be issued in 2013 by Bear Family Records, Germany. In this he is associated with Rainer E. Lotz, Howard Rye and Horst J. P. Bergmeier.
The pages on this site contain documentation, images, and details that generally relate to the activities of black people in Britain. Descendants have made contact over pages 008, 021, 026 and 059, as has an Australian whose grandfather was killed in the October 1915 Zeppelin bombing that should have killed his own grandfather (page 023). In November 2010 a relative of pianist Will Lawrence, who accompanied Roland Hayes in 1920s England, made contact from Los Angeles and sent the text of a letter from Hayes (see page 068) written just before he sailed on his first trip to Britain. In March 2012 relatives of Jacob Christian of Antigua (father of George William Christian, merchant of Liverpool and West Africa – see page 048) made contact and were linked to the Canadian side of the family (George Christian’s older sisters migrated there in the 1900s).
By August 2011 the most popular page was 043 (Eddie Manning) closely followed by 073 and 027.
Enjoy them all – just click on the page (right-hand side) and please feel free to make contact. Click on an image to leave a response.