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Thomas Wiggins, also known as Thomas Bethune or simply as Blind Tom, was born into slavery on May 25, 1849. Blind from birth, young Tom had a unique talent for recreating sounds and setting them to music. His owner, James Bethune, recognized the economic potential of his prodigy and by 1858 had rented Tom out to promoter Oliver Perry for a nationwide concert tour. Tom would work for or with the Bethune family for the remainder of his life. After the Civil War, Tom continued to tour with James Bethune as his manager, playing venues in Great Britain, Scotland, Europe, Canada, and South America. An amazing pianist, his repertoire of music included some 7,000 pieces. Wiggins died at the age of fifty-nine on June 13, 1908 in Hoboken, New Jersey.
The Thomas Wiggins Sheet Music Collection contains three pieces of original sheet music, and one original article on the life of Wiggins.
Permission to publish material from the Thomas Bethune/Thomas Wiggins/Blind Tom Collection must be obtained from the Columbus State University Archives. Use of the following credit line for publication or exhibit is required:
Thomas Bethune/Thomas Wiggins/Blind Tom
Columbus State University Archives
Acquired by Columbus State University in August 2002 from Yesteryear Books, Atlanta, Georgia.
Item 4: "The Phenomenon of 'Blind Tom': The Most Remarkable Instance of the Sub-conscious Mind in Music, New Information on the Subject supplied by 'Blind Tom's' Teacher." Anna Amalie Tutein, The Etude, February 1918. Original.