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Henry Hurford Janes-Josephine Baker collection

Call Number: JWJ MSS 2
Scope and Contents
The Henry Hurford Janes-Josephine Baker Collection contains letters, manuscripts, research notes, clippings, printed works, photographs, and miscellaneous materials gathered by Henry Hurford Janes which document his acquaintance with Josephine Baker between 1943 and 1975. The collection spans the years 1926-86, with the majority of the material falling within the dates 1943-75.

The collection is housed in 8 boxes and consists of two series: Correspondence and Personal Papers. Boxes 7 and 8 contain Oversize material from both series.

Series I, Correspondence , spans the years 1938-86. The largest range of letters are those to and from Josephine Baker. They begin in 1943, when Janes met Baker in Algiers. These early letters principally concern Janes's growing friendship with Baker and his efforts to arrange for her to give a concert in London. After the concert was successfully completed in May, 1945, Janes and Baker continued a more casual correspondence. Janes became an unofficial agent for Miss Baker in Great Britain and even planned to write a stage vehicle for her.

The correspondence decreased in the 1950s and early 1960s, as Baker performed more infrequently and was occupied with her growing family. She resumed writing to Henry Janes in 1967 because of her 12 children. On June 19, 1967, Josephine wrote that she wanted her older children to improve their English by writing to him. In the summer of 1970, Akio, Jean-Claude, Luis, and Mara Bouillon spent a month at the Janes's home in Kent, as documented by the letters of August 1970 and a manuscript in Series II (Box 4, folder 175).

In letters of 1971, Harry Janes plays a more businesslike role, acting as liaison for Josephine Baker in matters such as her involvement in a documentary about Noel Coward and the possibility of her appearing in England under the representation of Janes's friend, the agent Adza Vincent. A September 28, 1971 letter from Baker begins by discussing business affairs, but evolves into a matter of more personal importance. Here, Miss Baker reveals to Harry Janes many of the more agonizing details of her eviction from Les Milandes, the estate she lost to creditors in 1967. She writes that, while living in the kitchen of her house during the dispute over ownership of the property, several thugs, hired by the "new comers in the castle," treated her roughly and she was "thrown in the nude on the ground, under the pouring down rain . . . unable to move."

Beginning in November 1972, Janes and Baker began to correspond about the possibility of her purchasing a bed from the estate of Harry's mother-in-law that was to be sold at auction. Baker was intrigued because the bed had been authenticated as having once belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte. In a telegram dated November 30, 1972, Miss Baker expresses that she would like the bed so that she could say "I sleep with Napoleon." She eventually purchased the bed, but did not take delivery on the item for two years.

Letters from the first months of 1972 involve arrangements for the Janeses to host Baker's daughters Marianne and Stellina and Josephine's niece Rama Wallace for the summer. This visit in July and August of that year was disastrous. Marianne proved to be, in Harry Janes's words from his letter of July 26, 1973, "beyond your control, our control and control of herself."

The following year, the Janeses agreed to host Stellina during the following school year. Arrangements were made for her to attend St. Mary's Convent School in Folkestone. Letters from this period until Josephine Baker's death in April 1975 involve personal matters, principally those surrounding Stellina's schooling.

A number of letters from Margarette Wallace, Josephine's sister who lived with her in France, are included in the collection. Janes wrote to her after Josephine's death and secured her agreement to collaborate on a biography of her late sister. Margarette's letters, which reflect her sadness at losing her sister, are often signed "Your Black Sister."

Other family members are also represented in this series. Correspondence with Jo Bouillon deals almost exclusively with the brief legal discussion over the custody of Stellina following Josephine's death. Stellina, as well as Akio, Jari, Luis, and Marianne Bouillon and Rama Wallace also wrote to Harry Janes.

Much of Harry Janes's professional correspondence concerning Josephine Baker has been preserved in the collection. Theatrical agents Adza Vincent and Peter Lundin are represented, as are many of the publishing contacts with whom Harry Janes discussed the possibility of his writing a biography of Josephine Baker. These include Jeffrey Simmons, Yvette Morgan-Griffiths, and Michael Horniman.

Correspondence concerning Janes's work with ENSA during World War II can be found in the files of Basil Dean, Sidney du Moulin, Edward Stirling, Constance Sykes, and Virginia Vernon. Letters related to his research on Josephine Baker are found in the files of Kaori O'Connor and Lars Sorenson. Also present are letters from friends of Harry Janes who lived on the southern coast of France near Josephine Baker. These include Helen Leyson-Cooney and Mabel Collingwood-Whittick. Several letters dated May 1945 are fan letters to Josephine Baker handled by Harry Janes.

Series II, Personal Papers is divided in four subseries. The first subseries, Biographical Materials, is further divided into four sections. The first section, Manuscripts, consists of articles written by Harry Janes and others about Josephine Baker. Included here are "Dress Rehearsal Sporting Club (Summer Casino) Monte Carlo" (Box 4, folder 149) about Josephine preparing for a show, and "Josephine- and Mr. Bull" from 1946-47. Among the Writings by Others are Josephine Baker's "Declaration for the World Press" (Box 4, folder 158) and Margarette Wallace's handwritten "The True Life of Josephine" (Box 4, folder 170). Included in the Research Notes section are Janes's various accounts of visits with Josephine and her children. The Newspaper Clippings principally concern Josephine's stage appearances and her death.

Found among the Printed Material are posters, flyers, and various memorabilia of the ENSA concert arranged by Harry Janes in May 1945; programs from various stage performances by Josephine Baker, and complete copies of magazines which profiled Josephine Baker following her death. Photographs include portraits of Josephine Baker from the 1940s, photographs of her entertaining troops in Cairo, and a set of photographic cards of her in her most famous outfits from the 1920s. The final subseries, Related Papers, contains material from persons other than Josephine Baker. The Stellina Bouillon file contains a report card and several drawings by her. The Reginald McEnery file (Harry Janes's father-in-law) contains his burial certificate.

Boxes 7 and 8 contain Oversize material from both series, arranged in series order.
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
The Henry Hurford Janes-Josephine Baker Collection is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The papers were purchased at auction in 1987 for the James Weldon Johnson Collection with monies from the James Weldon Johnson Fund.
6 Linear Feet (8 boxes)
Related Names
Baker, Josephine, 1906-1975
Janes, Hurford, collector
Language of Materials