Dungill Family Papers, 1894-1999
Biographical Note: Dungill Family
Scope and Content: Dungill Family Papers, 1894-1999
Biography | Manuscripts | Programs | Correspondence
Serials | Clippings | Art | Memorabilia | Photographs
|Provenance:||Donated by Elaine and Gloria Dungill|
|Size:||5 linear feet|
|Repository:||Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature, Carter G. Woodson Regional Library (Chicago Public Library), 9525 S. Halsted Street, Chicago, IL 60628|
|Citation:||When quoting material from collection, the preferred citation is: Dungill Family Papers, [Box #, #], Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature, Chicago Public Library.|
|Processed by:||Angela Bacon, Mapping the Stacks, University of Chicago|
|Supervised by:||Michael Flug, Senior Archivist, Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature, CPL|
The Dungill Family Papers document the history of the musical accomplishments of the Dungill family. The family resided in Chicago’s historic Morgan Park community, where they developed a unique family orchestra. The Dungill Family Orchestra consisted of nine family members: the parents, Doyle and Evette Dungill, and the children: Alexander, Elaine, Melody, Gerald, Charles, Gloria and Harriette. As professionally trained musicians, Doyle and Evette decided early in their marriage to develop a musical family. As a result of this dream, all seven of their children were trained in music by the age of 3. Every member of the group was trained in the areas of voice and instrumental music. They played the trombone, coronet, marimba, trumpet, drums, bass tuba, piano and saxophone. The Dungills also mastered a variety of forms of music, including choral, classical and popular music, and developed a rich repertoire of vocal solos, instrumentals, duets, trios, quartets and sextets in English, Italian, Russian, Hawaiian, Spanish, German and several African languages.
As early as 1932, the Dungill family began performing at churches and schools and for community organizations throughout the Chicago area, under the name Dante and His Shadows. A popular draw to their concerts was the performance by youngest brother Charles, or “Cookie” as he was called, who would often “steal the show by making his drums talk in unique rhythms.” One of the group’s major early accomplishments was their performance at the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago, where they won the prestigious Rosenwald Prize in 1934.
In 1942, Mr. Dungill began to expand his musical outreach to the children of the new Ida B. Wells Housing Project by teaching his own original musical play, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Later, the directors of Ida B. Wells asked Mr. Dungill to demonstrate the “Dungill Method of Music,” which was a faster method of teaching music to children and adults.
By the late 1940s, the family began to perform under the name Dungill Family Orchestra and became active members of Local 208 of the Musicians’ Protective Union. This exposure led to a national tour, and the Dungill Family Orchestra began performing throughout the segregated South and the East and West coasts. During this time, the group also recorded “Africa Through Music” and “Africa Calling,” performances that celebrated the indigenous music of Africa.
Donated by Elaine and Gloria Dungill in 2000, the Dungill Family Papers contain four carefully constructed scrapbooks, rare photographs, manuscripts and audio-visual materials, including newspaper clippings, advertisements and flyers, souvenir programs and promotional literature documenting the Dungill Family performances from the 1930s through the 1960s. The correspondence file includes letters from President Harry S. Truman and musical legend W.C. Handy. The collection also contains approximately 20 promotional photographs of the group, taken between 1934 and 1960.
The Dungill Family Papers consist chiefly of programs, news clippings and numerous photographs from the family concert tours. In addition, there is a large amount of memorabilia, sheet music, correspondence, detailed itineraries and tour information included in the collection.
The collection is made up of nine series: Biography, Manuscripts, Programs, Correspondence, Serials, Clippings, Art, Memorabilia and Photographs.
Biography is highlighted by a series of scrapbooks compiled by Gloria Dungill, chronicling Dungill family history from 1894 to 1994. These scrapbooks were arranged topically and somewhat chronologically by Evette Dungill and other family members. The scrapbooks contain materials considered by the family to be the most important materials documenting their lives and work. Also available in this series is the marriage certificate of C.J. Wheatley (said to be a relative of both the Evette Dungill and the 18th century poet Phillis Wheatley) and Nattie Wilkerson, and biographical sketches of the Dungill family. Because the family also functioned as a corporate organization, there is a separate Manuscripts series for documents related to the Dungill Family Orchestra.
Manuscripts contains two documents: the “Africa Calling” playlist and the final broadcast of a radio station at Dominican College. Other manuscript materials, including sheet music, tour information and the concert company’s notes, can be found in the scrapbooks, located in the Biography series.
Programs is composed of programs from various performances by the Dungill Family Orchestra and by Dante and His Shadows from the 1930s through the 1960s.
Correspondence includes letters of recommendations for the Dungill family from various venues, correspondence from Gerry and Alexander Dungill during World War II and a letter from W.C. Handy to Doyle Dungill.
Serials contains one serial, The Chautauqua News, in which the family was featured in 1954.
Clippings comprises several clippings dated between 1934 and 1966, announcing Dungill family performances in Chicago and nationally.
The Art series contains several original paintings and reproductions of art done by Melody, Gloria and Elaine Dungill. Most of the works are portraits.
Memorabilia contains family keepsakes, Alexander and Gerald Dungill’s military medals, audio recordings on both cassette tape and records, and memorabilia (ticket stubs, fliers, etc.) from various shows.
The Photographs series is composed of many photographs documenting the family’s concert tours during the 1950s and includes promotional photos used for programs and fliers.
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