Conservatory Special Collections > Milton J. and Mona C. Hinton Collection

Milton J. and Mona C. Hinton Collection

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Summary

Milton John "Milt" Hinton (1910–2000) was an American double bassist and photographer. Edmonia "Mona" Caesar Clayton Hinton (1919–2008) was an educator, music contractor, bookkeeper, and advisor to her husband. The two were professionally active in various aspects of the music business and jazz community for more than six decades.

The Milton J. and Mona C. Hinton Collection comprises material created or compiled by Milt and Mona Hinton over the course of their lives. Milt Hinton, a distinguished jazz bassist and photographer, enjoyed an extensive career that stretched from the 1920s through the end of the 20th century. Embracing jazz and popular music, he played with such greats as Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, and Barbra Streisand. The collection includes manuscript and published language material, notated music, audio and moving image material, artifacts, and visual material that provide an unrivaled view into the life of one of the most accomplished bass players of the twentieth century.

 


Overview | Inventory | Related Material | History | Using The Collection


Overview

The Milton J. and Mona C. Hinton Collection comprises approximately 163 linear feet of storage space, as well as 6.5 terabytes of digitized audio and video material. The collection contains material created or compiled by Milt and Mona Hinton over the course of their lives, with the bulk of material created between the 1940s and 1990s. The collection was donated to Oberlin in 2013 by the executors of the Hinton Estate, Robert Bellamy, a nephew, and David G. Berger, a long-time friend who, along with Holly Maxson, co-directs the Milton J. Hinton Photographic Collection (see Related Material).

PDF inventories for selected series are included in the series descriptions below. To request access to the collection or to inquire about collection details, please contact Conservatory Library special collections staff at: con.special@oberlin.edu.

 

Inventory

The Milt J. and Mona C. Hinton Collection is arranged in the following 16 series:

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1919–2000s [12 boxes, 4 oversize folders; ca. 9 linear feet]

This series contains material that documents the personal or day-to-day lives of Milt Hinton, Mona Hinton, and other family members. Material includes personal and biographical notes, press packets, high school yearbooks, datebooks, calendars, address books, phone messages, passports, and identification and membership cards. Of particular research interest are Milt Hinton’s datebooks from 1952 through 1970, documenting his extensive daily schedule of recording sessions, concerts and other events. This series also includes material created by or relating to family members Charlotte Hinton, Hilda Downs, Rhoda Clayton, Pearl McKenzie, and Lucy Woods, as well as a family tree and other genealogical reference material. Click to view a PDF inventory of this series.

Series 2: Subject Files, 1940s–2000 [3 boxes, 10 oversize folders; ca. 4 linear feet]

This series contains a variety of material created by or documenting Milt Hinton’s professional involvement with musicians or organizations, including Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Pearl Bailey, Hunter College, and Charmon Music Inc. This includes material relating to print publications such as Bass Line, and recordings such as Old Man Time, as well as material written by others and sent to Milt and Mona Hinton, such as articles or theses about Milt Hinton or the history of bass playing. Material is arranged alphabetically by subject, personal name, or corporate name. Click to view a PDF inventory of this series.

Series 3: Correspondence, 1950s–2000s [21 boxes, 1 binder; ca. 12 linear feet]

This series is comprised of letters, cards, postcards, and other written correspondence sent to or written by Milt or Mona Hinton, although the majority of material is correspondence written by others and sent to Milt Hinton. This series consists of both personal and professional correspondence, and includes letters from noted musicians and industry professionals such as Pearl Bailey, Cozy Cole, Clark Terry, Ben Webster, Joe Glaser, and many more. There are 20 letter boxes of correspondence arranged chronologically, as well as one box and one binder of postcards. Click to view a PDF inventory of this series.

Series 4: Notated Music, [6 boxes, 1 drawer; 8 linear feet]

This series contains six record boxes and one oversize drawer of published and unpublished notated music, including original music manuscripts. Material consists of scores, lead sheets, parts, and incomplete parts of sets. Material is primarily music composed or arranged by Milt Hinton, but this series also includes music composed or arranged by Earl Bostic and Clark Terry. Click to view a PDF inventory of this series.

Series 5: Concert and Event Material, 1944–2001 [6 boxes; 6 linear feet]

This series contains six record boxes of concert programs, flyers, and other promotional material relating to concerts and musical performances that Milt performed in or was involved with. Material is arranged chronologically by year or decade.

Series 6: Financial Records, 1954–2000s [6 boxes; 6 linear feet]

This series contains records that document Milt and Mona Hinton’s finances. Three record boxes consist primarily of contracts, and three record boxes consist primarily of assorted tax statements and related documents. Material is arranged chronologically by year or decade.

Series 7: Articles and Newspaper Clippings, 1940s–2000s [3 boxes; 3 linear feet]

This series contains three record boxes of magazine articles and newspaper clippings about Milt and Mona Hinton, as well as magazines and newspaper clippings that Milt and Mona Hinton collected, such as musician obituaries. Material is arranged chronologically by decade, and content is primarily newspaper clippings about Milt Hinton from the 1980s and 1990s.

Series 8: Photography Exhibit Material, 1980s–2000s [3 boxes; 3 linear feet]

This series contains three record boxes of material relating to exhibitions of Milt Hinton’s photographs. Material includes exhibit programs, promotional material, loan agreements, and exhibition correspondence, and arranged alphabetically by exhibiting institution. This series does not include Milt Hinton’s photographs which are part of the Milton J. Hinton Photographic Collection (see Related Material).

Series 9: Audio and Moving Image Material, 1930s–2000s [ca. 46 linear feet; 6.5 terabytes of data]

This series contains audio and moving image material in a variety of formats, including disc, open reel audio, audiocassette, DAT, film reel, Betacam, Hi8, Video8, U-Matic, and VHS. Much of this material has been digitized and these digital files are available for approved in-person viewing and research. All content is non-commercial. Audio content is primarily interviews conducted by Milt Hinton and others, and musical performances that include Milt Hinton. Film and video include “home content” taken by Milt Hinton and others, musical performances by Milt Hinton and others, and assorted jazz films.

Series 10: Visual Material, 1940s–2000s [ca. 9 linear feet]

This series contains two-dimensional visual material, including event posters, drawings and paintings of Milt Hinton, calendars featuring Milt Hinton’s photographs, and other graphic material owned by Milt and Mona Hinton. Material is arranged by size and format, and includes both framed and unframed items. This series does not include any photographs taken by Milt Hinton that are part of the Milton J. Hinton Photographic Collection (see Related Material).

Series 11: Awards, 1970s–1990s [7 boxes, 2 oversize containers; ca. 10 linear feet]

This series contains the many honors and awards bestowed on Milt Hinton during his lifetime. Hinton received honorary doctorates from William Paterson College, Skidmore College, Hamilton College, DePaul University, Trinity College, the Berklee College of Music, Fairfield University, and Baruch College of the City University of New York. Other honors conferred on Hinton include the New York State Governor’s Arts Award, the Artist Achievement Award by the Governor of Mississippi, and the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Fellowship. Included in this series are proclamations of “Milt Hinton Days” from various cities, as well as a street sign for “Milt Hinton Place,” located in Queens NY. Material includes plaques, trophies, statues, medals, ribbons, and diplomas, and in some cases, programs, invitations, and other documentation accompany the award.

Series 12: Artifacts, 1940s–2000s [16 boxes, 4 oversize items; ca. 18 linear feet]

This series contains artifacts owned by Milt and Mona Hinton. Material includes Milt Hinton’s 35mm Argus C3 camera and camera equipment, clothing, jewelry and accessories, festival buttons, home décor, bass figurines, and various souvenirs or gifts such as mugs, clocks, and novelty toys. Instrument-related material includes bass and violin strings, rosin, bow holders, an amplifier, tuning fork, and other bass tools and accessories. This series also includes material created or owned by other musicians, such as scrapbooks created by Clyde Hart, personal effects of Chu Berry, “Papa” Jo Jones’ snare drum, and drum sticks and mallets signed or owned by musicians such as Red Norvo, or Louie Bellson.

Series 13: Photographs by Mona Hinton, 1950s–2000s [24 boxes, 1 binder; ca. 12 linear feet]

This series contains 24 photo boxes and one album of photographs taken by Mona Hinton. Most photographs are family snapshots, 5 x 7 color prints, from the 1970s–1990s. Also included in this series is a small number of color slides and 35mm film negatives. Material is arranged chronologically by decade. This series does not contain photographs taken by Milt Hinton that are part of the Milton J. Hinton Photographic Collection (see Related Material).

Series 14: Rinkeydinks Material, 1949–1960s [3 boxes, 1 oversize item; ca. 4 linear feet]

This series contains material created or collected by Mona Hinton relating to the Rinkeydinks, a social and civic club active in the 1950s and 1960s. Mona Hinton was a founding member of the New York chapter of the Rinkeydinks, along with other wives of New York musicians, including Catherine Basie, Ruth Bowen, Chickie Evans, Helen Darden, Barbara Jacquet, and Hildegard Bostic. Items in this series include financial and administrative records, such as drafts of the club’s constitution and bylaws, magazine articles, newspaper clippings, event invitations, photographs, and costumes.

Series 15: Hinton Personal Library, [102 books; ca. 12 linear feet]

This series contains selected books on a wide range of musical and general subjects from Milt and Mona Hinton's personal library. Most are signed, usually by the author, or contain annotations or information about Milt or Mona Hinton. The books reflect Milt and Mona Hinton's wide and varied interests and, in addition to books related to jazz, include books on photography, literature, poetry, and African American history. The 1970 anthology 3000 Years of Black Poetry, edited by Alan Lomax and Raoul Abdul, includes Mona Hinton’s English translation of the poem “Two Countries” by Cuban poet José Martí (1853–1895).

Series 16: William James “Count” Basie Estate Material, 1943–2008 [1 box; 1 linear foot]

This series contains one record box of documents created or compiled by William James “Count” Basie and his wife, Catherine Basie, both close friends of the Hintons. When Catherine Basie died in 1983, Mona was named co-executor of her estate, and when Count Basie died in 1984, Mona Hinton was named one of the co-executors of his estate.

 

Related Materials

Playing the Changes, a traveling exhibition was developed in 2016 by Jeremy Smith, former Oberlin Special Collections Librarian and Curator of the James and Susan Neumann Jazz Collection, David G. Berger and Holly Maxon, executors of the Milton J. Hinton Photographic Collection, and Peter Dominguez, Oberlin Professor of Jazz Studies and Double Bass. The exhibit combines up to fifty of Hinton’s most acclaimed original photographs taken between the 1930s and 1990s with insightful biographical material drawn from the Milton J. and Mona C. Hinton Collection in the Oberlin Conservatory Library’s special collections.

The Milt Hinton Institute for Studio Bass is a week-long program of technique classes, workshops, master classes, recitals, recording sessions, and bass sessions designed for college and pre-college bass students (ages 13 and up). This biennial summer program, inaugurated in 2014, is directed by Oberlin Professor of Jazz Studies and Double Bass Peter Dominguez. The Institute is funded by Oberlin and an endowment (formerly the Milton J. Hinton Scholarship Fund) from the Hinton estates.

Raw video footage of the 2018 Institute is housed in the Conservatory special collections, and is available for approved on-site viewing. Footage depicts classes, workshops, lectures, performances, recording sessions, and interviews. For more information please contact Conservatory Library special collections staff at: con.special@oberlin.edu.

The Oberlin Conservatory acquired four of Milt Hinton’s basses that are regularly played by Oberlin Professor of Jazz Studies and Double Bass Peter Dominguez and his bass students. This includes the Italian bass (ca. 1790) that Milt performed on for most of his career, and that was fully restored by luthier Bruno Destrez in 2018, a King bass featured in Milt’s “Slap Bass” videos, a blonde Kay bass Milt played in the 1957 television program “The Sound of Jazz,” and an Ampeg baby bass played by Milt on the Dick Cavett Show.

Photographs taken by Milt Hinton are in the collection at the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College. A list of the thirty-four photographs is available in the Museum’s catalog.

The Milton J. Hinton Photographic Collection: The black-and-white photographs taken by Milt Hinton between 1935 and 1999 comprise the major part of the Milton J. Hinton Photographic Collection (MJHPC). The MJHPC is directed, curated, and owned by David G. Berger and Holly Maxson, and contains approximately 60,000 35mm black-and-white negatives, thousands of reference and exhibition-quality prints, approximately 4,000 color slides, and photographs given to and collected by Milt and Mona Hinton. The MJHPC holds copyright to all of these materials.

 

History

Milton John "Milt" Hinton (June 23, 1910–December 19, 2000) was an American double bassist and photographer. Hinton was born in Vicksburg, MS but moved with his extended family to Chicago, IL in 1919. He graduated from Wendell Phillips High School, where he played violin in the school orchestra and peck horn in the school’s ROTC marching band that was directed by Major N. Clark Smith. Hinton began his professional career playing tuba and double bass for Tiny Parham, Eddie South, and other Chicago-based musicians, and he joined the Cab Calloway Orchestra in 1936, where he played an integral role for the next fifteen years.

In the early 1950s, after a brief stint in the Louis Armstrong All-Stars, Hinton transitioned to studio work in New York City, which would remain his focus through the early 1970s. He would regularly play three-hour studio sessions three times per day, recording with musicians from across the stylistic spectrum. In the late 1960s, Hinton went back on the road as a sideman for musicians including Paul Anka, Barbra Streisand, Pearl Bailey, and Bing Crosby. Beginning in the early 1970s, he also taught for nearly twenty years as a visiting professor of jazz studies at Hunter College and Baruch College.

Hinton was broadly regarded as a consummate sideman, possessing a sensitivity for appropriately applying his formidable technique along with his extensive harmonic knowledge to the performance at hand. He was equally adept at bowing, pizzicato, and "slapping," a technique for which he first became famous while playing with the Cab Calloway Orchestra early in his career. He was also an accomplished sight-reader, a skill which he developed on the road with Calloway and honed during his several decades of studio work.

In addition to his musical career, Hinton was an accomplished photographer, taking approximately 60,000 photographs between 1935 and the 1990s. His photography depicts an extensive range of jazz artists and popular performers in varied settings—on the road, in recording studios, at parties, and at home. By the 1990s Hinton was revered as an elder statesman in jazz, and he received dozens of awards, including eight honorary doctorates and, in 1993, the highly prestigious National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Fellowship. By 1996, Hinton ceased performing on bass, due to a number of physical ailments, and he died in 2000.

A more detailed biography is available on Milt Hinton’s Wikipedia page.

Edmonia "Mona" Caesar Clayton Hinton (April 23, 1919–May 3, 2008) was an educator, music contractor, and bookkeeper, as well as a business partner and advisor for her husband Milt Hinton.

Hinton completed high school in Sandusky, OH, after which she moved to Chicago, IL to attend Poro Beauty School, a cosmetology school run by pioneering African American entrepreneur Madam Annie Malone. After graduating, and while working as a bookkeeper for Malone, Hinton sang in a church choir directed by Milt Hinton’s mother, Hilda Robinson. Milt and Mona met at Milt’s grandmother’s funeral in 1939, and they were together for the next sixty-one years.

In the early 1940s Mona began traveling with Milt on tours of the Cab Calloway Orchestra, where she helped arrange logistics for the musicians and provided a variety of financial and relational advice. Shortly after their only child Charlotte was born (February 28, 1947), the Hintons bought a house in Queens, NY, which allowed Mona to stop traveling with the band.

In addition to caring for their daughter, Mona handled all of the family’s finances. When Milt left the Calloway Orchestra in the early 1950s and began freelance work as a musician in New York, Mona kept track of Milt’s work, scheduled interviews, coordinated public relations events, and often drove him back and forth to gigs (Milt never drove as an adult, due in part to a major car accident he was involved in as a teenager in Chicago). She completed both a bachelor’s and a master's degree from Queens College in the 1960s, after which she taught remedial reading at two Queens elementary schools for eight years. She retired from teaching in 1977 to begin traveling with Milt again. At the same time, she was active as a music contractor for Lena Horne, Quincy Jones, Sammy Davis Jr., the Mills Brothers, and others.

Hinton was consistently involved in charity work, often with her close friend and neighbor Catherine Basie, wife of William “Count” Basie. In addition to their work founding the Rinkeydinks, a social and civic club active in the 1950s and 1960s that was made up primarily of the wives of New York musicians, Hinton and Basie were active in the Urban League as well as the local chapter of the NAACP. Along with Milt, Mona was also active in Queens-based community organizations, notably the St. Albans Congregational Church. She served for more than a decade as co-director of the New York Musician’s Fund (a forerunner of the Jazz Foundation of America), an emergency fund established by George Wein which lends money to musicians who are in need. Hinton died in 2008 after a long illness.

A more detailed biography is available on Mona Hinton’s Wikipedia page.

 

Using The Collection

Restrictions: The collection is open for research. All original format audio and moving image materials are CLOSED to patron listening. Digitized audio and moving image materials may be made available for approved in-person research use. For more information please contact Conservatory Library special collections staff at: con.special@oberlin.edu.

Rights: The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Oberlin College.

Preferred Citation: [Identification of item], Milton J. and Mona C. Hinton Collection, Oberlin Conservatory Library.

 

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