Civil War Sheet Music

 

Oh Jeff! Oh Jeff! How Are You Now?The Thunderer March, John Philip SousaVictory at Last

 

Musselman Library Special Collections is fortunate to own a large selection of Civil War Sheet Music, including a variety of song sheets, marches, ballads, and folk songs. This year members of the Gettysburg College community and visitors can view detailed reproductions of the items in this collection, located outside the Browsing Room on the main floor.

 

In the mid-nineteenth century, Americans could only listen to popular songs through live performances, whether it was at concerts or in the family parlor at the piano. Regardless, the Civil War Era was a time during which musical composition flourished. The sheet music industry was booming due to the widening customer market; middle class families had begun to collect sheet music, keeping their collections in special parlor cabinets.[1]

 

The four cases on display feature four subcategories of popular Civil War Sheet Music: song sheets, cover art, marches, and ballads. Included in this exhibit are selected pages from a composition by John Philip Sousa, the famed composer of “Stars and Stripes Forever.” Visitors can also see an excerpt from “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” a well-known set of lyrics that were actually set to the tune of an old Irish antiwar song.[2]

 

[1] Huntington, Tom. "THE SOUND OF MUSIC." Civil War Times 45, no. 3 (May 2006): 14-62. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed July 31, 2012).

[2] Ibid. 

 

Curated by Emily A. Francisco, Class of 2014