Collection Facts

Extent: 
179 items
Dates of Original: 
1877-1969
Collection Owner:
NYH Topic Area(s):

Historical Context

By the end of the 19th century, as theater, vaudeville, and the music circuit centralized, the stage was set for 20th-century show business to become a big commercial enterprise. Publishing songs was a part of that business. A lot of America’s popular-music publishing industry was centered in New York City, on Tin Pan Alley. One 1890s Tin Pan Alley song, "After the Ball," sold millions of copies. Others sold more modestly, but sheet music was widely available. Although performers used professional sheet music, scores sold to the public had lively and colorful covers. Sometimes they featured a performer’s photo, as well as an illustration. The covers can be used as historical evidence of what ideas and images were circulating in popular culture in the early 20th century

Scope of Collection

The collection consists of sheet music, playbills, theater programs, and advertisements from the late 19th to mid-20th Centuries.