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Public domain sheet music collection, 1895-1923 (bulk, 1903-1923)
SPC.00020  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
Collection contains 350 examples of popular sheet music published prior to 1924. All but a few items are piano-vocal scores, a small number are piano only.
Background
In the 19th century, the music industry was dominated by sheet music publishers. In the United States, the sheet music industry rose in tandem with blackface minstrelsy. The group of New York City-based music publishers, songwriters and composers dominating the industry was known as "Tin Pan Alley". In the mid-19th century, copyright control of melodies was not as strict, and publishers would often print their own versions of the songs popular at the time. With stronger copyright protection laws late in the century, songwriters, composers, lyricists, and publishers started working together for their mutual financial benefit. New York City publishers concentrated on vocal music. The biggest music houses established themselves in New York City, but small local publishers – often connected with commercial printers or music stores – continued to flourish throughout the country. An extraordinary number of East European immigrants became the music publishers and songwriters on Tin Pan Alley-- the most famous being Irving Berlin. Songwriters who became established producers of successful songs were hired to be on the staff of the music houses.
Extent
1 linear foot 1 file storage boxes
Restrictions
Collection does not circulate and may be photocopied or photographed by arrangement only.
Availability
Conditions Governing Access: This collection is partially processed. Please contact the Sonoma County History and Genealogy Library for access; for contact info and current hours, see