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About Us

We represent the W. C. Handy Birthplace, Museum, Cabin and Library

Our address:  620 West College Street,Florence, Alabama, 35630

Phone (256) 275-3128

The W. C. Handy foundation is a non-profit organization. In July 2018, the city of Florence, Alabama transferred ownership of the home and museum to the W. C. Handy Foundation (a nonprofit in Alabama), operated by the Dr. C. R. Handy and family. He is a professor at Texas Southern University (Texas). As a professor, he understand the historical value and responsibilities of his grandfather.  The foundation goals is to preserve the legacy of W.C. Handy and transcribe all documents to digital format for the next generation.


Who is Dr. C.R. Handy? He is the son of the W. C. Handy Jr., Leonor Handy and the grandson of "W. C. Handy".

Feel free to request permissions for new license (music), books or historical references recomendation. Phone (713-458-8577).

You can request access information for academic university proposal, public events proposals, academics internships, voluntary work at the museum, musical events, etc. Sent email: Dr.c.r.Hand,Foundation Family Administrator.

Who was W C Handy? He was an African American Composer, born in Florence , Alabama.

During his life time W.C. Handy was and still the "Father of the Blues".  Those that wish to rewrite history fail to realize that the whims of circumstances that led to the present day have a temporal flow that moves forward, not backwards,  in time. America was beginning to liberate itself from the "mores" of the 19th Century.

Handy’s blues were meant not to commiserate with the hardships of the past, but to embrace it and move towards the future through new  styles of singing and dancing. All this began in 1909 through his political jingle Mr. Crump, which then led to the first published blues in 1912, “The Memphis Blues” (for which the foxtrot was developed) and “The St. Louis Blues” in 1914.


W.C. Handy was the founder of " HANDY BROTHERS COMPANY MUSIC".  in New York.

We are a family own business and  the oldest African American in the United States. (ASCP)

W C Handy was born in Florence, Alabama, the son of Elizabeth Brewer and Charles Barnard Handy. His father was the pastor of a small church in Guntersville, a small town in northeast central Alabama. Handy wrote in his 1941 autobiography, Father of the Blues, that he was born in the log cabin built by his grandfather William Wise Handy, who became an African Methodist Episcopal minister after emancipation. The log cabin of Handy's birth has been preserved near downtown Florence.

Growing up he apprenticed in carpentry, shoe making and plastering. W C Handy was deeply religious, and his musical style was influenced by the church music he sang and played as a youth. It was also influenced by the sounds of the natural world. He cited as inspiration the sounds of "whippoorwills, bats and hoot owls and their outlandish noises", the sound of Cypress Creek washing on the fringes of the woodland, and "the music of every songbird and all the symphonies of their unpremeditated art".

W C Handy's father believed that musical instruments were tools of the devil. Without his parents' permission, He bought his first guitar, which he had seen in a local shop window and secretly saved for by picking berries and nuts and making lye soap. Upon seeing the guitar, his father asked him, "What possessed you to bring a sinful thing like that into our Christian home?" and ordered him to "take it back where it came from", but he also arranged for his son to take organ lessons. The organ lessons did not last long, but Handy moved on to learn to play the cornet. He joined a local band as a teenager, but he kept this fact a secret from his parents. He purchased a cornet from a fellow band member and spent every free minute practicing it.


Our Story

W. C. Handy Birthplace, Museum, and Library

Barbara Broach, Director of Arts & Museums, Florence

Handy Cabin, Museum and library is dedicated to one of Florence's most famous sons known as the "Father of the Blues", Handy was born in a log cabin at this site in 1873. The cabin, museum and library contain a collection of Handy's personal papers, artifacts and other items he donated before his death in 1958.

The W. C. Handy Birthplace, Museum and Library, in Florence, Lauderdale County, was established to celebrate the life of musician and composer William "W. C." Handy (1873-1958), known as the "Father of the Blues." Handy himself donated the seed money to create the museum, which now includes several buildings and houses a large collection of memorabilia, personal items, and objects relating to Handy's career.

In 1954, a new housing development sponsored by the city of Florence threatened the log cabin in which Handy was born. To save it, Handy gave to the city the $29,000 he was paid for the land on which the cabin stood to be used for future restoration of his childhood home as a museum. The cabin was carefully dismantled and the logs numbered and stored for later reassembly. Handy also bequeathed a large number of his personal possessions to the city to be used in the cabin after a suitable new location was found.


W. C. Handy's Piano

During the late 1960s, a committee was formed to begin work on the museum honoring the "Father of the Blues." The committee was led by Karl Tyree, head of the Florence Housing Authority, and included a group of men from the Florence Junior Chamber of Commerce. A site was selected at 620 West College Street, in the southwest corner of town. Work began early in 1970 on reassembling the log cabin and on constructing a museum next to the cabin to properly house and display the artifacts and tell the story of Handy's life and career. The completed structure was filled with the artifacts that the Handy family sent to Florence from their home in New York, including the upright piano on which Handy composed the "St. Louis Blues," his brass trumpet, furniture, and numerous boxes of his letters, pictures, musical compositions, personal mementos, and datebooks.

A group of local Florence women formed the Cabin Committee that same year to take on the work of furnishing the restored log cabin. Local citizens donated furnishings and other items that represented the time period during which Handy lived there as a child. The W. C. Handy Museum opened to the public on June 7, 1970. A separate building was added in 1980 to house the Black Heritage Library, which was filled with books donated to or purchased for the museum under the direction of the Cabin Committee. In 2002, an addition was constructed that included a new area for the Black Heritage Library, office space, a kitchen, and restroom as well as a community meeting room.


W. C. Handy

Originally the museum and two other historic sites were owned and financed by the City of Florence, and appointed members of the Florence Historical Board had responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the three facilities. On April 6, 1988, operational control of the museum and several other historic properties in the city were transferred under the administration of the newly created position of Director of Arts and Museums.


In July 2018, the city transferred ownership of the home and museum to the W.C. Handy Foundation, a nonprofit operated by the Handy family. Average attendance each year is about 3,000 visitors. Two annual events take place at or involving the museum. A large W. C. Birthday Celebration is held at the museum each November 16 with live music, birthday cake, and free admission. In addition, the W. C. Handy Music Festival takes place annually during the last week of July. The festival has been held since 1982 and now includes approximately 300 events during a ten-day period.
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