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Huntington Library Sheet Music Collection: Finding Aid
ephSMC  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Administrative Information
  • Access
  • Scope and Content
  • Related materials in the Huntington Library
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Huntington Library Sheet Music Collection
    Dates (inclusive): 1792-1982
    Bulk dates: 1820/1920
    Collection Number: ephSMC
    Extent: approximately 3800 items in 35 boxes and 28 volumes
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Prints and Ephemera
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2129
    Email: rarebooks@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: The Huntington Library Sheet Music Collection chiefly 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 3800 items, the bulk of which spans the years 1820-1920.
    Language: English.
    Note:
    Finding aid last updated on February 13, 2015.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    In order to quote from, publish, or reproduce any of the materials, researchers must obtain formal permission from the office of the Library Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Huntington as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained. Researchers may contact the appropriate curator for further information.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Huntington Library Sheet Music Collection. The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Provenance

    The provenance of individual items within the collection is primarily unknown. The collection has been developed gradually since 1923 through donations of single items and donations and purchases of scrapbook volumes containing sheet music.

    Processing/Project Information

    An item-level list of the collection was created in August 1997 by Cathy Cherbosque and a brief online finding aid was created in 1999. Diann Benti combined and updated this finding aid in January 2015.

    Access

    The collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, please visit the Huntington's website: www.huntington.org.  

    Scope and Content

    The Huntington Library Sheet Music Collection chiefly 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 3800 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.

    Related materials in the Huntington Library

    Beyond the Sheet Music Collection which is housed in the Prints and Ephemera Division of the Rare Book Department, sheet music has also been catalogued in numerous locations in the Rare Book Department. Other catalogued material include: Librettos, Song Books, Song Sheets, and Broadsides.

    Arrangement

    The collection consists of individual pieces arranged chronologically by publication date within folders, and then alphabetically by song title. These are stored flat in boxes. A portion of the items have been bound into numbered scrapbooks, reflecting the tastes and musical interests of various compilers.
    Items without a date are arranged alphabetically by song title in a “n.d.” (no date) sequence. These are housed in a separate “no date” box.
    Please note that in some cases, the publication dates are only approximate dates assigned by the cataloger.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  

    Subjects

    Dramatic music -- United States.
    Dramatic music -- England.
    Patriotic music -- United States.
    Songs, Irish.
    Songs, Scots.
    Operas.
    Sentimentalism -- Songs and music.
    Courtship -- Songs and music.
    Motherhood -- Songs and music.
    Love songs.
    Topical songs.
    Celebrities -- Songs and music.
    Music -- Pictorial works.
    United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Songs and music.
    Broadway (New York, N.Y.) -- Songs and music.
    Confederate States of America -- Songs and music.

    Forms/Genres

    Sheet music.
    Songs.