The collection primarily consists of photocopied secondary sources, newspaper clippings, and programs collected by James R. Europe, Jr. to document his father's accomplishments. The contents also include bibliographies, magazine articles, a chronology of the Europe family from 1847 to 1947, a folder of WWI records, with Europe's military discharge records, a certified copy of the incorporation of the Clef Club of New York City, the "Memoirs of Lieutenant Jim Europe," by Noble Sissle, 1920, (which are actually reminiscences about Europe by Sissle and housed in the Manuscripts collection at LC), and excerpts from a biography, "James Reese Europe: A Life in Racetime" written by Reid Badger, in 1995.
Biographical/historical: James Reese Europe was an accomplished musician, composer, conductor, organizer, and recording artist. In 1902, at the age of twenty-one, he relocated to New York City and shortly thereafter organized the Clef Club, a union of black musicians, and booking agency as well as a fraternal-like group. In 1912 the Clef Club Orchestra under the direction of Europe held a concert in Carnegie Hall that gained the recognition and respect of a primarily white elite audience. From 1914 to 1916 Europe's Society Orchestra toured throughout the United States and overseas with Vernon and Irene Castle, a husband and wife dance team.