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James Reese Europe: Topics in Chronicling America

In addition to his duties in the military, Europe became a world renowned band leader in the early 20th century. This guide provides access to materials related to "James Reese Europe” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"Lieutenant Jim Europe." March 21, 1919. Evening Public Ledger (Philadelphia, PA), Image . Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

“You Just Ought to Hear Jimmy Europe’s ... Band Play a ‘Rag’ or a March” proclaimed the Evening World. Chicago has gone “music mad” reported the Dallas Express, with thousands following as the band marched through town. Lieut. James Europe, bandleader and composer, fought in the 369th, the African American regiment nicknamed the “Hell Fighters.” He was the leader of its band, travelling through France giving performances for troops and civilians alike. Within four months of his return, he was dead, stabbed by one of his bandmates during their US tour. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


1906 - 1909Europe composes songs for Cole and Johnson shows in New York City, later becoming their musical director.
May 2, 1912Europe's Clef Club Symphony Orchestra appears in concert at Carnegie Hall.
1913 - 1916Europe forms Tempo Club and works with popular dance team of Vernon and Irene Castle.
September 1916 - 1918Europe enlists in the 15th Infantry, a black New York National Guard unit, redesignated as the 369th. He attends officers training and is commissioned a lieutenant. He fights in the 369th and travels through France as the leader of the military band he forms.
February - May 1919369th Regiment is given hero’s welcome and parades up New York's 5th Avenue to Harlem, led by its band. The band, with Europe at its helm, travels US to great acclaim.
May 1919Europe dies after being stabbed by drummer Herbert Wright. He is greatly mourned with huge funeral in New York City and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
June 1919Lieut. James Reese Europe Post, No. 1, is the first African American post of WWI veterans to be granted a charter in the American Legion.