Sheet music


Historic New England's collection of sheet music includes illustrations from the following categories or themes: social life, patriotic symbols, courtship and love, sports, games, and amusements, politics, pastoral scenes, family life, entertainers, military, social issues, urban scenes, beauty and fashion, education, death, ships and the sea, religion, and immigrants.


Descriptive Terms

religion (discipline)
sheet music

Physical Description

ca. 200 items

Collection Code


Collection Name

Ephemera collection

Reference Code


Record Details

Material Type

sheet music


Urban scenes

Description Level


Historical/Biographical Note

Historical/Biographical Note

Published sheet music was available in the United States by about 1788. Early examples did not have illustrated title pages, but eventually they began to be embellished with engravings, sometimes small, and other times covering most of the title page. Engravings were expensive to produce, but the introduction of lithography allowed music publishers to produce illustrated covers more inexpensively. Several well-known artists received their early training in lithographic shops producing sheet music covers. By the 1880s, the quality of illustrations had declined as cheaper printing processes were adopted.

Source: Introduction to Nineteenth Century Pictorial Sheet Music, Boston Athenaeum web site

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