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Prints and Photographs Division



Graphic Journalism and Illustration
Photojournalism Collections
Documentary Surveys
Advertising and Propaganda
Graphic Ephemera
Product Labels

arrow graphicSheet Music Covers
Pictures: Business and Art
Design Collections
Organizations' Records
Personal Papers



Sheet Music Covers
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Bloomer Waltz (costume for summer). Sarony & Major. Copyright 1851. Prints and Photographs Division.
bibliographic record

Sheet music covers (1,500 items, ca. 1820s-1900s) made heavy use of imagery to attract purchasers. Supplementing the content of the music and lyrics, the pictorial covers convey information about gender conventions and ideals.

Not surprisingly, portraits of popular singers abound, but comic and romantic songs also featured illustrations intended to match the mood of the music.

The Music Division holds a large collection of sheet music with covers intact (see Topical Research in Popular Song in the Music Division section). The Prints and Photographs Division holds a substantial collection of sheet music covers (LOT 10615), occasionally with the music still attached.

Searching the Collection

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I really must be in the fashion, comic song, by Van Der Weyde. Sarony & Co. Copyright 1850. Prints and Photographs Division.
bibliographic record

Most images for which copy negatives or transparencies exist can be searched in the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. The sheet music collection does not have its own listing in the online catalog, but items can be retrieved by searching for the format sheet music covers in combination with subjects, names, and so forth. Digitized images generally accompany the records.

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Why not love thee darling? N.E. Lith Steam Ptg. Co. Copyright 1868. Prints and Photographs Division.
bibliographic record

To look for images for which no online record exists, onsite researchers can consult the Divisional Card Catalog shelflist for LOT 10615. The sheet music covers have been sorted into categories according to the theme of the cover illustrations; the categories are listed in the shelflist.

Go to the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC)

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