American Vernacular Music Manuscripts, ca. 1730-1910

Handwritten music manuscripts by common Americans contain primary and direct evidence of their musical preferences during a particular time and in a particular place. To see, play from, or study one of these old manuscripts brings us as close to that person’s musical life as history allows. Laborious inscriptions of a tune, hymn, or song – made by musicians of the music they played, loved, or wanted to learn – are precious and unique windows into music-making, acknowledging that this music mattered to them and, thus, matters to us!

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