About the Collection

The U.S. Sheet Music Collection contains more than 100,000 pieces of sheet music published in the United States dating from the late 18th century to the early 20th century. The items represent a wide variety of musical literature, including art song, parlor song, folk song, and popular song, as well as numerous genres of instrumental compositions. This material presents a significant perspective on American history and culture, reflecting the many interests, attitudes, and musical tastes of each era. Of particular interest is the series of local imprints, which includes an extensive sequence of sheet music published in Rochester, NY, and Buffalo, NY, as well as several imprints from publishers across western New York and eastern Pennsylvania. These items are a unique and invaluable source of information about publishing in upstate New York.

US Sheet Music Collection Description


Sub-group I: Chronological arrangement

Sub-group II: Thematic arrangement

Contains instrumental and vocal music associated with various subject categories, such as patriotic music, US states or cities, events, famous people (e.g., Jenny Lind, Charles Lindbergh), and local imprints (from western New York and eastern Pennsylvania).

Sub-group III: Popular imprints

Contains a variety of popular music forms; such as popular dance forms; selections from operettas, musical stage plays, and motion pictures; and songs composed on prevalent topical themes (e.g., social movements and trends).

Description of Series
So as to address the growing body of sheet music received by the Sibley Music Library over a long period of time, SML personnel established the given arrangement in the 1960s or 1970s and arranged the music accordingly. The collection at large is subdivided into three broad sub-groups: Sub-group I: Chronological arrangement; Sub-group II: Thematic arrangement; Sub-group III: Popular music. In turn, sub-group has been further divided into various series (see Contents). Inevitably, there is some overlap of musical literature among the three sub-groups. To peruse the titles within any given series or sub-series, simply click on the .pdf provided above.

The collection is comprised of items that the Sibley Music Library has acquired over an extended period of time from various sources. Acquisitions range from gifts of single items to substantial collections given to the library by different donors.

Restrictions and Use
There are no restrictions on use of the collection. The provisions of the United States Copyright Law (1976) and its revisions apply in each instance of reproduction and performance. For all items published in 1923 or later, obtaining copyright clearance is a necessary prerequisite before requests for reproductions will be granted.


The Charlotte Stafford Collection (SC1995.15) and Burke Sheet Music Collection (SC1995.16) contain popular sheet music, both vocal and instrumental, the bulk dating from the early 20th century. The World War II Sheet Music Collection (SC1995.7) consists of over 500 items of popular sheet music published during the years of World War II relating to the war or general patriotism. The Sam Forman Dance Orchestra Collection (SC1999.2) contains full and partial sets of performance parts for nearly 200 popular compositions, the bulk of either French or Spanish origin, published between 1910 and 1960.

Certain other collections also contain significant amounts of sheet music published in the U.S. The Robert Schwartz Collection contains exclusively popular sheet music titles from the 20th century, the bulk dating from the 1960s and 1970s. The E. Maude Wilson Collection (SC1996.14) contains late 19th- and early 20th-century music for piano solo and piano four-hands. The Carl Dengler Collection contains many sheet music imprints, both in their original published manifestations and in manuscript from arranged specifically for ensemble (dance band) performance. There is also a separate series of music composed by Irving Berlin, but at the time of this writing, this music has not been processed. In addition, the Ruth T. Watanabe Special Collections department holds an extensive collection of European imprints, the bulk of which consists of music published in the U.K., Germany, and France. At the time of this writing, this collection has not yet been processed.

Collection description by Gail E. Lowther, winter 2016

Please contact the Special Collections department for further information.

Samples from the collection: