COLLECTION OF ILLUSTRATED AMERICAN SHEET MUSIC, ca. 1790 - 1987
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE for SAM DeVINCENT COLLECTION
Sam DeVincent organized his collection topically and the present organization is built upon
his basic system. In the course of processing this huge collection organized into hundreds of
topics, a set of more encompassing topical headings have been developed. For example, the series
designation "transportation" gathers together DeVincent's topical headings of "automobiles,"
"railroads," "bicycles," etc. Each of these larger, conceptual, headings
is considered a series and is given a series number. Transportation is series number 1. Each
series will be described separately and a composite index will lead researchers into the appropriate
series. Terminology is consistent with Library of Congress Subject Headings whenever
Within each series, the topical headings used by DeVincent, or a heading of similar level and
type, receive sub-series numbers. For example, "railroads" is part of series 1, transportation,
and is given the sub-series number 7. Therefore, "railroads" is designated as 1.7.
All of the sheet music has been placed in folders (from 1 to 45 items per folder) and given
a letter of the alphabet. Within each folder, the music is arranged alphabetically by song title.
A researcher searching the index for the song Wabash Cannonball (note that very few song titles
are indexed) would be directed to "1.7 V." The researcher would then turn to the railroad
section of the container list (1.7) and look for folder V and read the folder description.
Most of the sheet music is either a solo piano or a piano/vocal arrangement. There are very
few orchestral or band parts and very little music for instruments other than piano. When the
word "instrumental" is used in folder descriptions and titles, the music referred
to has no lyrics and is for solo piano. Music for other instruments or ensemble parts will be
mentioned explicitly in the folder description and usually indexed. Also, duplicates have not
been kept in the file unless the sheet is particularly old or fragile (in which case one duplicate
was kept if available). Sheets with slightly different covers, different ink colors, or variations
in advertising matter are not considered duplicates.
In addition to the sheet music, the collection includes ephemera files corresponding to each
series. These files contain items such as lists of sheet music, DeVincent's correspondence with
other collectors, wire service printouts received at the radio station where he worked, his
notes to be used for cross-indexing ("see also" references), and miscellaneous items
relating to the topic. Some materials kept by DeVincent have not been incorporated into the
ephemera files, for example most of the popular magazines, Fort Wayne Indiana newspaper clippings
about non-musical topics, and some advertising matter.
The ephemera files are numbered with the same series and sub-series numbers as the sheet music.
For example bicycles are 1.3 in both the music and ephemera files. A description of the ephemera
file follows the sheet music container list. It is followed by an index to the entire series.
Many topical headings not directly concerned with the topic of the series are indexed (for example
"Women, images of" is an important topic in the bicycle sub-series). The author of
each series description made the decisions about topics for indexing.