American Song Sheets

Broadsides and song sheets from nineteenth-century America.

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About the Digital Collection

In the 1800s, publishers printed the lyrics to popular songs, without their tunes, on small sheets called song sheets, handbills, or broadsides. These would often be illustrated with a woodcut scene or portrait and sold at gathering places where people sang together. Duke’s collection of broadside verse includes around 1800 of these ephemeral productions, from “The Star Spangled Banner” to “Pop Goes the Weasel,” forming a rich source for research on American society and culture. The American South and the Civil War era are especially well documented, including well over one hundred Confederate broadsides. The collection also includes carrier’s addresses, non-musical poetry, and other ephemeral verse.

TEI files are available for almost all items in the American Song Sheets collection. To obtain a copy, please send an email to ddrhelp@duke.edu.

Items in This Digital Collection (1,748)

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Archival boxSource Collection

This digital collection comprises selected materials from the following archival collection at David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library:

American Song Sheets collection circa 1830s-1920s bulk 1850s-1880s

Collection #RL.00036 | 3 Linear Feet; 1982 Items

ABSTRACT
In the mid nineteenth century, publishers printed the lyrics to popular songs, without their tunes, on small sheets called song sheets, handbills, or broadsides. These sheets were often illustrated with a woodcut scene or portrait and sold at gathering places where people sang together. Duke's collection of American song sheets includes 1,982 of these ephemeral productions, from "The Star Spangled Banner" to "Pop Goes the Weasel," forming a rich source for research on American society and culture. The American South and the Civil War era are especially well documented, including well over one hundred Confederate broadsides. The collection also includes carrier's addresses, non-musical poetry, and other ephemeral verse. Publishers represented in the collection include: J. Andrews, A. W. Auner, Bell and Company, James D. Gray, Johnson and Company, Charles Magnus, H. de Marsan, T. M. Scroggy, St. Clair Smith, John T. Thorne, H. J. Wehman, J. Wrigley, and others.

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