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King of RagtimeScott Joplin and His Era$
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Edward A. Berlin

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199740321

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199740321.001.0001

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Childhood and Family Background

Childhood and Family Background

(p.1) Chapter 1 Childhood and Family Background
King of Ragtime

Edward A. Berlin

Oxford University Press

The 1870 U.S. Census, taken on July 18 and listing Scott Joplin as two years old living on a farm some forty miles south of Texarkana, Texas, demonstrates that the often-cited birthplace and date of Texarkana, November 24, 1868, based on the testimony of his widow, Lottie Joplin, is incorrect. The next census, in Texarkana in 1880, supports this conclusion as it shows he was born before June 1, 1868. Little is known of his childhood, but two key circumstances, in view of his artistic career, are his access to a piano in the home of a white family where his mother worked as a domestic and music lessons from Julius Weiss, a German immigrant. There is some evidence that he spent some of his adolescent years in Sedalia, Missouri, where he would later begin his ragtime career.

Keywords:   census, birth date, Texarkana, Julius Weiss, Sedalia, Lottie Joplin

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