Saturday, July 11, 2009

East Village History Project Links to “Thomas 'Blind Tom' Wiggins” at

[Blind Tom, The Black Pianist-Composer: Continually Enslaved; Geneva Handy Southall; Scarecrow Press (2002)]

The “East Village History Project Blog” explores a part of New York City in which the African American pianist and composer Thomas “Blind Tom” Wiggins (1849-1908) lived for several years. This post links to the page on Wiggins at
Friday, July 10, 2009
“The story of Thomas 'Blind Tom' Wiggins, former slave and musical genius
Thomas Greene Wiggins (1849-1908) was a former slave and indentured servant who began playing piano by the age of four and became one of the most celebrated musicians of the Civil War era. Thomas was born autistic and without sight on May 25, 1849 to Mungo and Charity Wiggins, two Georgia plantation slaves owned by Wiley Edward Jones. His family was sold soon after to Colonel James Neil Bethune, and Tom was 'thrown in as a bargain.' By all accounts, because of his disabilities, Thomas was treated like a 'household pet,' but Bethune's daughter Mary recognized talent in the young boy and became his first music teacher. Thomas learned fast and began performing publicly by the age of eight.”

“John G. Bethune had himself appointed Thomas's legal guardian on July 25, 1870, and soon moved to New York City to live with his new new wife, the owner of the boarding house where they lived (7 St. Marks Place). Over the following nine years, while living here on St. Marks Place, Thomas Wiggins studied music with Professor Joseph Poznanski, who wrote down and collected many of Thomas' original compositions.” [A complete Works List for Thomas “Blind Tom” Wioggins has been compiled by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma and can be found at]

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