Jenkins Orphanage Band (1995) | ETV Classics

The Jenkins Orphanage was established by Rev. Daniel J. Jenkins for African American children who were orphans or had poor or disabled parents. Enrollment through the years grew to include over 500 children. In addition to the main building, the orphanage included a 100-acre farm, a print shop, and a shoe repair shop.

The Jenkins Orphanage Band was organized in 1895 as a way to gain funds for the orphanage. With its music, the band linked ragtime, march and jazz, becoming the first and only Black instrumental group organized in South Carolina. The band debuted on the streets of Charleston with the permission of the mayor, police chief, and chamber of commerce.

For more Black history content, check out the Black History Month page.  Visit the digital series, ETV Classics, to watch more gems from South Carolina ETV's vault.


Located in Charleston County, the Jenkins Orphanage building still stands. The building had been designed by Robert Mills in 1833 for the care of sick and disabled seamen. After the Civil War, it became a school for African American children.