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Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1820-1860

Music Division, Library of Congress

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Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1820-1860 consists of over 15,000 pieces of sheet music registered for copyright during the years 1820 to 1860. This collection complements an earlier American Memory project, Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music 1870-1885 as well as the Band Music from the Civil War Era and Sheet Music from the Civil War Era. Included are popular songs, operatic arias, piano music, sacred and secular vocal music, solo instrumental music, method books and instructional materials, and some music for band and orchestra. This collection of American and European composers provides an interesting chronicle of the developments in the music publishing business in the nineteenth-century United States. Other notable elements include the burgeoning popularity of the polka, as well as the songs of Stephen Collins Foster (1826-64), who composed such as favorites as "Susanna," "The Old Folks at Home," and "Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair." Songs in this collection also reflect the growing fame of performers such as the singing Hutchinson family and the first American tour (arranged by P. T. Barnum) of soprano Jenny Lind, the "Swedish nightingale." This collection reflects the development of popular song in America.
The mission of the Library of Congress is to make its resources available and useful to Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations. The goal of the Library's National Digital Library Program is to offer broad public access to a wide range of historical and cultural documents as a contribution to education and lifelong learning.

The Library of Congress presents these documents as part of the record of the past. These primary historical documents reflect the attitudes, perspectives, and beliefs of different times. The Library of Congress does not endorse the views expressed in these collections, which may contain materials offensive to some readers.

Special Presentations:

Music Copyrighted in Federal District Courts, ca. 1820-1860

Greatest Hits, 1820-60 (Variety Music Cavalcade)

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