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About the Collection

About the Mills Music Library Digital Collections Mills Music Library Digital Collections provide online access to some of the unique materials found in the Special Collections Department of Mills Music Library, including the Wisconsin Music Archives. Among these online collections you will find thousands of pieces of published sheet music from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, page-by-page access to one of the most important sources of Civil War era band music, discographies of our holdings of recordings by two important Wisconsin recording companies, and an online repository of the Wisconsin ethnic heritage materials collected by Helene Stratman-Thomas.

During the Civil War, the town of Brodhead, Wisconsin, was the hometown of a band associated with the 1st Brigade of the Union Army. Their partbooks were preserved by the descendants of the band members and were acquired in the 1960s. The online collection presents one of the very few extant collections of this repertory.

Helene Stratman-Thomas traveled through Wisconsin between 1936 and 1947 collecting recordings of ethnic music, as well as taking photographs and making notes on cultural practices of various Wisconsin immigrant groups. The online collection provides full access to this significant collection.

The sheet music collection consists of three sub-collections: the Americana Sheet Music Collection, the Popular Sheet Music Collection, and the Wisconsin Sheet Music Database. The Americana and Popular collections provide bibliographic access to our extensive collection of sheet music published in America in the nineteenth century. The Wisconsin Sheet Music Database identifies sheet music publications either published in Wisconsin, written by a Wisconsin composer, or with a thematic connection to Wisconsin.

The recordings databases provide discographic access to the catalogs of the Cuca and Paramount Recording companies. These companies were important for their activity in recording early blues, ethnic music, and rock during the mid twentieth century.

More Information about Selected Subcollections

Americana Sheet Music Collection

Americana Sheet Music Collection

The Americana Sheet Music Collection database was developed to provide bibliographic access to the Americana Collection of sheet music, one of the special collections of the Mills Music Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Some records for selected compositions have associated images of the scanned sheet music. Over time additional images may be added to the collection

The Americana Collection contains sheet music published in America before 1900. The collection includes principally music from the popular tradition, although that distinction is blurred until ca. 1865. Many compositions are songs for voice and piano, but music for solo piano and other instrumental music is also included. Midwest publishers are well represented as is music by women composers.

Civil War Band Collection: 1st Brigade Band of Brodhead, Wisconsin

Civil War band books of the 1st Brigade Band In 1858, a group of citizens of Brodhead, Wisconsin, decided to form a brass band. They initially called themselves the Brodhead Tin Band, from the set of inexpensive tin instruments that they purchased. Soon they purchased a set of brass instruments, however, and became known as the Brodhead Brass Band, or "B.B.B." Under that name, they performed at the debate between presidential candidates Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas on 27 August 1858 at Freeport, Illinois.

Cuca Records Database

Cuca Records Database The aim of this database is to provide discographical information for all known LPs released by Cuca Records and its affiliated labels. Many of these recordings are available in the Mills Music Library. At present, the database does not contain information on Cuca's 45 rpm recordings.

Paramount Records Discography

Paramount Records Discography This discography contains information about Paramount Records and three other record labels produced by the New York Recording Laboratories (NYRL) of Port Washington, Wisconsin: Broadway, Famous, and Puritan. All records included in the discography are in the collections of the Wisconsin Music Archives of the Mills Music Library at the University of Wisconsin.

NYRL was active from about 1917 - 1932, and Paramount was clearly its premiere label. Recordings which originally appeared on Paramount were routinely and systematically issued on the other labels, although Broadway and Puritan contain unique material as well. For an overview of each label, see Allan Sutton's American Record Labels and Companies: An Encyclopedia (1891-1943) or Brian Rust's American Record Label Book. For a history of the company, see Paramount's Rise and Fall by Alex Van der Tuuk or the articles by Stephen Calt and Gayle Dean Wardlow listed in the bibliography on the about page for this collection.

Joseph Philbrick Webster Music Manuscripts (ca. 1840s-1874)

Joseph Philbrick Webster Music Manuscripts Joseph Philbrick Webster (1819-1875) composed music for ballads, hymns, patriotic drama, and a cantata, and, in all, published fully 1,000 songs. Among his most popular compositions were "Lorena" (1857), sung by both Confederate and Union forces during the Civil War, and "In the Sweet Bye and Bye" (1868).

Popular Sheet Music Collection

Popular Sheet Music Collection The Popular Sheet Music Collection consists of popular song sheets held by the Mills Music Library and published in the United States since 1900. At present, approximately 10,500 titles have been entered into the database.

The collection has been assembled from many sources, but most significant among these is the collection of John A. Jaeger, a Milwaukee sheet music enthusiast, from whom the library acquired the collection in the 1980s. In addition to more than 8,600 popular song sheets, Jaeger's total collection comprised over 17,000 titles, including thirteen bound volumes of nineteenth century music, dance folios, and other popular instrumental music. The database records indicate when an item was originally part of the Jaeger Collection.

Wisconsin Folksong Collection, 1937-1946

Wisconsin Folksong Collection, 1937-1946 The Wisconsin Folksong Collection, 1937-1946, represents materials from two collections housed in three discrete but closely related repositories. The Collection reflects and documents the state's colorful pattern of immigration and occupational development during those years.

The Collection contains Wisconsin field recordings, notes, and photographs made by UW-Madison faculty member Helene Stratman-Thomas as part of the Wisconsin Folk Music Recording Project, co-sponsored by the University of Wisconsin and the Library of Congress during the summers of 1940, 1941, and 1946; and recordings collected by song catcher Sidney Robertson Cowell during the summer of 1937 for the Special Skills Division of the Resettlement Administration. <more>

Wisconsin Sheet Music Database

Wisconsin Sheet Music Database This is an index of items housed in the sheet music collection of the Wisconsin Music Archives at the Mills Music Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison. The collection contains music written by Wisconsin composers, published by Wisconsin publishers, and pieces whose subject matter is Wisconsin. The publications date from the late 1850s, extend to the present, and include principally, but not exclusively, popular music traditions. While the majority of pieces are songs, the database also includes music for piano, instrumental music, and choral music. English, of course, predominates, but a significant number of German language items can be found. Most items are published. While each item in the index retains a strong Wisconsin connection, many of the titles were published elsewhere in the United States and some were published simultaneously in Germany.

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