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The American Popular Print Music Collection

The American Popular Print Music Collection contains four collections: American Sheet Music, Dance Band Combos, Glenn Miller, and Sybil Weiner. The repertoire includes music for theater, film, operetta, choir, jazz combos, and a variety of Negro spirituals and folk songs. The music of this collection reflects life and culture in the United States during the late 19th through mid 20th centuries and serves as historical documentation, offering scholars insight into the literature, poetry, language, patriotism, immigrant experience, and ethnic plurality in American society at that time. This rare or original source material is valuable for a new generation of musicians inspired to study, perform, and reinvent American music. The elaborately illustrated sheet covers are examples of visual folk art from the period and offer additional cultural insight through imagery.

Collection highlights:

  The largest of the four categories, the American Sheet Music Collection consists primarily of piano-vocal music of popular songs from theater, film, and operettas. It also includes choral music, Negro spirituals, folk songs, and early editions of American songsters such as Irving Berlin, Stephen Foster, and William Billings.

             (Currently, this collection is being processed)
The Dance Band Combos Collection consists of instrumental arrangements of popular songs first made for distribution to theater and music hall orchestras. These early to mid 20th century arrangements proved so popular that surprised publishers began making them available for general sale. Pit bands could then purchase a ready-made score of a current hit tune to vary their repertoire. These multi-purpose orchestrations became commonly known as “stock arrangements.”

The Winner Collection of Glenn Miller Manuscripts is a small but prized collection of three unpublished, original manuscript scores by the famous American jazz composer and bandleader. The titles are “Hallelujah,” “Candy,” and “There Goes that Song Again,” composed in 1943-44, shortly before Miller’s death. Written in pencil on 14 x 17-inch paper and orchestrated for big band, the scores were discovered in Miller’s New York agency after it closed its doors. Two of the scores have the notation “2nd Radio Production Unit-Army Air Forces Band.”


Donated by Sybil Weiner in 2007, the Sybil Weiner Collection contains 519 popular sheet music pieces that tell the story of American national heritage. A combination of national songs, hymns, military themes, poetry, cultural favorites and music of the theater, it expresses the pride and hope that remain a constant part of the American experience.  

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