Where was Irving Mills Born? New York or Russia?

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Where was Irving Mills Born?
New York or Russia?

Bix recorded three sides with Irving Mills and the Hotsy Totsy Gang on June 6, 1930:

“Loved One” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duqC6foHTq0

“Deep Harlem” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1si4wku709g

“Strut Miss Lizzie” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3P1l9gM2AU

Irving Mills was a music publisher, music management firm executive, lyricist and band leader. He put together all-star recording groups under the names of the Whoopee Makers and Irving Mills' Hotsy Totsy Gang (1928-1930) and in 1931 became the manager for an orchestra, which he renamed the Mills Blue Rhythm Band.

The jazz literature provides conflicting information regarding Irving Mills birthplace. Some sources give New York City and others give Russia. In the following, I list sources that give pertinent information. The bottom line: Irving Mills was born Isadore Minsky in Odessa, Russia.
Selected Sources: Born in New York.
- Red Hot Jazz. http://www.redhotjazz.com/irvingmills.html

Irving Mills was born in New York City, in the Jewish ghetto on the East Side in 1894 of Jewish parents. His mother and father ere born in Odessa, Russia. He had one brother, Jack, who was about 2 years older then him and born in Odessa.

- Find A Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6221725

Birth: Jan. 15, 1894. New York. New York County (Manhattan) New York, USA

- LA Times Obit http://articles.latimes.com/1985-04-22/local/me-22047_1_duke-ellington

Born Jan. 16, 1894 in New York City

- IMDB http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0590030/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

Born: January 16, 1894 in New York City, New York, USA

Birth Name Irving Mills

- Radio Swiss http://www.radioswissjazz.ch/de/musikdatenbank/musiker/1105362ff57536afba226ed57beadef01f9f2/biography

geboren am 16.1.1884 in New York City, NY, USA

Alias Joe Primrose

- American Songbook Page http://greatamericansongbook.net/pages/songwriters/m_sws/mills_irving.html

Born: January 16, 1894, New York City

- World War II Draft Registration https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939V-WW52-8?i=2576&cc=1861144

Born in New York

- Incoming Passenger List of United States Citizens 1934 (also 1932, 1935, 1937, 1939, 19520 https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-95ZT-96QL?i=126&cc=1923888

Born in New York

- California Death Index. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VP8Z-JFS

Born in New York

Selected Sources: Born in Russia

- 1940 US Census https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9MY-5CBC?i=1&cc=2000219

Born in Russia

- 1930 US Census https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9RCS-DP?i=14&cc=1810731

Born in Russia

- 1900 US Census https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6Q1S-WWB?i=9&cc=1325221

Listed as Isadore Minsky, born in Russia, age 6

- Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irving_Mills

Irving Harold Mills (né Isadore Minsky; 16 January 1894 Odessa, Ukraine – 21 April 1985 Palm Springs, California)

Mills was born in Odessa, Ukraine, although some biographies state that he was born in the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City. His father, Hyman Minsky (1868–1905), was a hat maker who had immigrated from Odessa to the United States with his wife Sofia (née Sophia Schifre; born 1869). His father, Hyman, died in 1905.

- Jewish History https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/this-day-in-jewish-history/.premium-1.652749

Irving Harold Mills was born Isadore Minsky on January 16, 1894, and was apparently not American-born after all. Although most sources say he was born in New York, independent music historian Bill Edwards, on his website Red Hot Jazz, quotes U.S. census forms indicating that both Irving and Jack were born in Odessa: The young boys arrived in the United States on July 25, 1896, together with their parents. They lived in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Those parents were Hyman (Chaim) Minsky and the former Sophia Schifre, both from Odessa.

- Perfessor Bill Website http://ragpiano.com/ragtime13a.shtml

Jack and Irving were the children of hat maker Hyman [Chaim] Minsky and his bride Sophia Schifre (b.1867 and 1869) from Odessa, Russia. Jack was born there in Odessa in 1891 as Jacob Minsky and his younger brother Irving as Isadore [or Isaac] Minsky in 1894, also in Odessa. There are claims that Irving was born in New York City, but official government records, information given by himself, and the time line indicate otherwise. The family migrated to the United States, arriving in New York on July 25, 1896, and settling in Manhattan, New York. They were shown in the 1900 census living on Essex Street. On January 20, 1903, Hyman was naturalized as a United States citizen, the only one in his family at that time. He died of tuberculosis on April 5, 1905, leaving Sophia and the boys to fend for themselves. Jacob was barely in his teens as he and Isadore hit the streets looking for odd jobs. They did everything from menial work in restaurants to selling items in the garment district, even selling wallpaper at one point. The 1910 census shows that Isadore had by now anglicized his name to Irving, but the family still retained Minsky as their last name. 


The documentation is conclusive: Irving Mills was born Isadore Minsky in Odessa,  the "pearl of the Black Sea." During the 19th century, Odessa was the fourth largest city of Imperial Russia, after MoscowSaint Petersburg and Warsaw.

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