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E. Bradley Strauchen-Scherer

[Jane Rogovin]

(b New York, NY, 17 March 1922; d London, England, 12 Sept 1990). American ethnomusicologist and curator. Although born and reared in the Bronx, Jenkins portrayed herself as having been brought up in rural Arkansas surrounded by Ozark folk music. As a teenager, she learnt an extensive repertoire of folksongs and became active in American folk music circles. Like many folksingers of the era, Jenkins espoused socialism. She studied anthropology and musicology in Missouri but her support of trade unions and civil rights attracted the scrutiny of the FBI.

Her move to London in 1950 placed Jenkins beyond the reach of McCarthyism. There she continued her studies and secured leave to remain in the UK by marrying Clive Jenkins, a prominent trade union leader. In 1960 she became the first Keeper of Musical Instruments of the Horniman Museum and commenced fieldwork. She traveled in the USSR, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and southern Europe to record and to build up a comparative collection of instruments for the Horniman. Jenkins organized exhibitions and published as curatorial duties permitted, but recording was her enduring legacy to ethnomusicology. She considered her banjo to be her most important piece of fieldwork equipment and she played to other musicians to encourage them to participate in recordings. Keen to capture music she perceived to be vanishing, she recorded more than 700 field tapes. Her frequent BBC broadcasts and commercially issued recordings introduced music from Asia and Africa to UK audiences and paved the way for the explosion of interest in ‘world music’. Jenkins’s original recordings and an archive of fieldwork photographs are held by the National Museums of Scotland....