Sheet music and songbooks are described here as they relate to American history and popular culture. Song texts and sheet music illustrations are the focus.
All other music scores in the MSU collection are held in the Fine Arts Library on 4 West.
Our Streaming Music Collections are a terrific resource for recordings of global music and American folk music, dating back to the earliest years of sound technology.
Music clipart by swlauriersb.qc.ca. CC BY 3.0.
We have more than 1000 examples of popular sheet music from 1840s to the 1950s.
To browse chronologically, search for the key phrase "popular music" with results listed by date.
To browse thematically, search for the key phrase "popular music" and another term, such as:
Note that the catalog description usually does not try to say what a song is about, so a keyword search will only find words in the song title and possibly the first line of text.
For example, a search for popular music and love will retrieve I Love You Truly, but will not retrieve For My Sweetheart or Girl of My Dreams.
Users should be aware that sheet music and songbooks, especially before 1940, contained many negative stereotypes of women and racial and ethnic minorities. African Americans are particularly maligned. This has been a pervasive element of American culture.
Books and articles on this topic can be found using SearchPlus on the library website. See also a conference paper located in Special Collections.
The William G. Lockwood Collection of Romani Ethnology and Gypsy Stereotypes contains hundreds of items chosen by the donor as examples of common stereotypes about the Romani people. Dr. Lockwood was a faculty member in Anthropology at the University of Michigan.
Ruth Ann Jones
Stephen O. Murray and Keelung Hong Special Collections
Michigan State University Libraries
Several of our manuscript collections include sheet music, soingbooks, or scores: All of these collections are housed off-campus. Please request 3 days before your visit.
Conservatorio de Música Alfredo Levy collection (MSS 443)
The Conservatorio de Música Alfredo Levy was a private music school in Havana, Cuba, active from 1947 to 1961. The collection includes more than 1000 scores, manuscripts, letters, and items of memorabilia collected by the composer and pianist Alfredo Levy Nadal.
Goldenrod Music records (MSS 471)
The Goldenrod Music records document the first 35 years of the Lansing-based feminist & women's music distribution company.
Michigan Womyn's Music Festival collection (MSS 508)
The Michigan Womyn's Music Festival collection documents the 40-year history of the annual gathering, a cornerstone of 20th century women's and lesbian history and culture.
This list identifies genres where we have a reasonable selection of material. For other genres we may have only a handful of titles, but you may still find a gem! Browse all items in our collection which have the term "songs" in the subject heading.
Civil Rights Movement
Hymns and Gospel songs
We have an especially strong collection of hymn books used in Christian worship, dating back to the 1740s.
Seven hymnals from our collection (published between 1860 and 1887) were digitized as part of the project Shaping the Values of Youth: Sunday School Books in 19th Century America.
Labor songbooks were used at union meetings, rallies, and during strikes and protests.
Michigan State University
Opera librettos and scores are normally held in the Music library on 4 West. We keep these in Special Collections only if they are fragile, or very rare.
The subject heading War songs will retrieve songs from throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
Or use subject headings for specific wars:
If you're interested in women's music you'll want to explore two extensive archival collections: the Goldenrod Music records (MSS 471) and the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival records (MSS 508).