Inventor of Ukulele Is Dead

New York Tribune, Tuesday, 25 July 1922 reported the following:

Inventor of Ukulele is Dead

White Man Brought Instrument to Hawaii, it is disclosed

Honolulu, T.H. July 24 (by associated press) — Manuel Nunes, inventor of the ukulele, died at his home here of heart disease after a long illness. His death brought to light that, contrary to general belief, the ukulele was known to the Hawaiians only after the advent of the white man.

Nunes was born in Funchal, Madeira, in 1843, and came to the islands in 1878. The following year he fashioned a rude, guitar-like instrument with a cigar box and a few strings. It was from this that the ukulele of today was evolved.

What a sad bit of reporting from the NYT.

Published in: on July 20, 2010 at 7:30 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Yes, this is not great journalism. Naturally the instrument came from European prototypes. Its use by Hawaiians is not diminished by that.
    I wonder if it is true that Nunes began with a cigar box uke. Seems unlikely if he was a craftsman. The little steel string Portugese instrument would have been available as a model.
    I also wonder if Julia Nunes took up the uke in some way because of this famous name association?

  2. OMG thats my great great great grandfather! so cool.

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