American MemoryLibrary of Congress / Ameritech Award Winner
Duke University, Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library

Historic American Sheet 
Music: 1850-1920

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The Historic American Sheet Music collection presents 3,042 pieces of sheet music drawn from the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library at Duke University, which holds an important, representative, and comprehensive collection of nineteenth and early twentieth century American sheet music. This selection presents a significant perspective on American history and culture through a variety of music types including bel canto, minstrel songs, protest songs, sentimental songs, patriotic and political songs, plantation songs, spirituals, dance music, songs from vaudeville and musicals, "Tin pan alley" songs, and songs from World War I. The collection is particularly strong in antebellum Southern music, Confederate imprints, and Civil War songs and music. Also included are piano music of marches, variations, opera excerpts, and dance music, including waltzes, quadrilles, polkas, etc. Cover illustrations represent an important, and in some cases almost unique, source of information for popular contemporary ideas on politics, patriotism, race, religion, love, and sentiment.

The mission of the Library of Congress is to make its resources available and useful to Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations. The goal of the Library's National Digital Library Program is to offer broad public access to a wide range of historical and cultural documents as a contribution to education and lifelong learning. Digital collections from other institutions complement and enhance the Library's own resources.

The Library of Congress presents these documents as part of the record of the past. These primary historical documents reflect the attitudes, perspectives, and beliefs of different times. The Library of Congress and Duke University do not endorse the views expressed in these collections, which may contain materials offensive to some readers.


Understanding the Collection

About the Collection*

About Sheet Music*

Selected Bibliography on Sheet Music*

Collection Connections

Working with the Collection

How to Order Reproductions

Building the Digital Collection

Copyright and Other Restrictions

line Home Page for this Collection at Duke University* line

The digitization and presentation of these materials by the Digital Scriptorium at Duke University* was supported by an award from the Library of Congress/Ameritech National Digital Library Competition. Links marked * are to web pages mounted at the awardee institution. The digital reproductions of the sheet music are also mounted at the awardee institution.

The source materials for this collection are housed at the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University.* Please contact the library at Duke University with any questions or information about the original materials or requests for reproductions.


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