SAM DeVINCENT COLLECTION OF ILLUSTRATED
AMERICAN SHEET MUSIC, ca. 1790 - 1987
Series 2: ARMED FORCES, ca. 1810-1980
by: Karen Linn, 1989
Scope and Content:
The Armed Forces series contains ca. 3,400 pieces of sheet music and song folios documenting
the military history of the United States; there are only a handful of foreign imprints. The
World War I subseries (2.4) is particularly impressive with ca. 1,150 items. The Post-World
War II subseries (2.6) is very small. Some additional military items can be found in the DeVincent
file for Presidents of the United States.
The illustrated covers offer the military historian fine portraits of well-known officers,
visual evidence about uniforms and other military regalia, and dramatic portrayals of battle
scenes. The series also contains material of interest to the social and cultural historian as
well as the musicologist. The changing character of the songs indicates something about the
accepted public face of different eras--from the Civil War's anguished songs of youthful death
to the World War II songs of near denial of the possibility of death; from the Civil War's primary
relationship of the soldier boy to his mother to a World War II emphasis upon the relationship
of the young service man to his girlfriend.
The material dates from ca. 1810 to 1983. Many early imprints are in the armed forces series,
subseries 2.1--Pre-Civil War. Most pre-1840 imprints are not dated. Estimates have been made
for the dates of many early imprints by checking publisher and address of the publisher in the
"Index of Publishers, Engravers and Printers" in volume III of Richard Wolfe's Secular
Music in America 1801-1825: A Bibliography and in Oscar Sonneck's A Bibliography of Early
Secular American Music. Several sheets that appear to be very old could not be dated by
The Ephemera file, arranged in the same subseries as the sheet music, is described after the
subseries. The armed forces ephemera file is placed in two document boxes numbered with the
same series and subseries numbers as the sheet music.
The seven subseries in the armed forces series are arranged chronologically except for the
last subseries, Naval History. These subseries includes: 2.1 Pre-Civil War; 2.2 Civil War; 2.3
Pre-World War I; 2.4 World War I; 2.5 World War II; 2.6 Post-World War II; 2.7 Naval History;
2.8 Marine Corps.