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Collection Guide
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Inventory of the American Sheet Music Collection, 1797-1982
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
The American Sheet Music Collection illustrates the physical and thematic development of sheet music printed in the United States from the late eighteenth century through the early twentieth century. The collection includes over 3814 items, the bulk of which spans the years 1820-1920. Musical genres included are English and American theatre music, comic opera, patriotic songs, Scottish and Irish melodies, "Englished" versions of Italian opera, contemporary topical themes (such as the Civil War, including a small number of Confederate imprints), and modern Broadway music. Subjects and themes covered include sentimental songs, especially courtship and maternal relationships; songs offered in tribute (e.g. to Washington, Lincoln, Bonaparte; Jenny Lind, etc.); and patriotic songs, especially of the Civil War. Major and minor publishers are represented. Cities most prominently featured as publishing centers include Boston, Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore; there are also imprints from Cincinnati, Chicago, Milwaukee, San Francisco, St. Louis, and New Orleans. A significant portion of the collection is illustrated which, along with the themes and lyrics of the songs themselves, provides further insight into the attitudes and values of the American people over time.
Restrictions
In order to quote from, publish, or reproduce any of the manuscripts or visual materials, researchers must obtain formal permission from the office of the Library Director. In most instances, permission is given by the Huntington as owner of the physical property rights only, and researchers must also obtain permission from the holder of the literary rights In some instances, the Huntington owns the literary rights, as well as the physical property rights. Researchers may contact the appropriate curator for further information.
Availability
Collection is open to qualified researches by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information please go to the following URL.