Abraham P. Hankins, Moses
Hankins was born in Gromel, Russia, the son of a destitute rabbi. Recognizing Hankins's talent for the arts from a young age (and most likely keenly aware of the social and political complications of being Jewish in pre-Revolutionary Russia), his father sent him to Philadelphia to study at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts under Henry McCarter.
At the outbreak of World War I, Hankins lied about his lineage and enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving in France, but after a gas attack damaged his lungs, he was dismissed from the army and returned to Philadelphia. In an attempt to strengthen his lung, Hankins took up singing and his studies continued in the avenues of both music and fine art, moving to Paris to study at the Academy Julien from 1925 to 1936, before once againÂ making his way back to Philadelphia.