SAM DeVINCENT COLLECTION OF ILLUSTRATED AMERICAN SHEET MUSIC, ca. 1790 - 1987
by: Cooby Greenway & Robert S. Harding, August 2001
Scope and Content:
In the process of arranging and describing this series, an initial list was prepared of all significant songwriters found in the collection. After consultation with colleagues in the National Museum of American History, this list was adopted as a working list for processing Series 4: Songwriters. Because of the size of this series, the printed Registers were originally published in two volumes. In this online version the two volumes have been combined.
A "songwriter" for this series is defined as a composer, a lyricist, or both. The songwriters included in this online finding aid are arranged alphabetically in the Biography of Songwriters section and alphabetically in the Name and Select Title Index. The arrangement of the Container List can be found in Subseries List: 4.1-4.217 (with links).
The song sheets associated with each songwriter in this series are generally arranged in the following order: General Songs; Ethnic Songs; Armed Conflict Songs or other Topical Headings; Ragtime; Instrumental; Musical Theater Production Songs; Motion Picture Production Songs; Specialized Song Sheets/Editions; Professional/Artist Copy Song Sheets; and Folios/Volumes. Songs of four or more editions (multiple editions) are usually placed in individual folders and listed separately under the appropriate category, i.e., General Songs, Topical songs, etc. Copyright dates listed in the Container List represent the latest date on any given song sheet, i.e., a song originally published in 1906, but copyrighted in 1946, will show the date 1946.
In the Container List the word "Contains" in a descriptive entry identifies a folder that contains only the song sheet titles specified. For example, Subseries 4.1, folder B "contains" three song sheets and only those three are contained in that folder. The word "Includes" in a descriptive entry identifies a folder that holds not only the song sheet title(s) named but also other song sheet title(s) not specified in the Container List. For example, folder E of subseries 4.1 "includes" (or specifies) three song sheets ("Magic Moments," "Sad Sack," and "Warm and Tender"), but, in addition, folder E contains fourteen other song sheets that are not specified.
Variations in the size of the sheet music in this series may indicate its publication date. Large song sheets-approximately 11" x 13"- were superseded in April 1919, when publishers adopted a new "standard" or "regular" size for song sheets-9 1/4" x 12 1/4"-as recommended by the National Association of Sheet Music Dealers. The probable motivation was that smaller song sheets were cheaper to produce--a conservation effort prompted by World War I.
Titles of Musical Theater Production Songs and Motion Picture Production Songs are in capital letters. Individual song titles are within quotation marks. Portraits of the artist or artists that contributed to a song's success are featured on many song sheets. Songs are filed alphabetically, by title, within each folder.
Dates after the songwriter's name in the Biography of Songwriters section of this Register refer to the songwriter's birth and death dates. Dates after a songwriter's name in the Container List of this Register refer to the dates of the song sheets in this collection for that songwriter. Where two or more songwriters were a notable team over an extended period of time, their collaboration is noted in the Biography of Songwriters and included in the Container List.
The dates in the Container List represent the latest copyright year on the song sheets. The dates are not necessarily the same as the year of the productions. Copyright dates in the Container List represent the latest date on any given piece of sheet music, i.e., a song originally published in 1906, but re-copyrighted in 1946, will show the date 1946.
The Name and Select Title Index at the end of this volume represents a listing of the songwriters, selected song titles, musical theater productions, and motion picture productions included in this online finding aid. The Name and Select Title Index does not attempt to be comprehensive, but only to list the subseries and folder designations of select songs and productions listed in the Container List.
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Revised: May 16, 2012