Primarily published sheet music, plus some related ephemera. Originally included 781 boxes of American sheet music and assorted clippings, articles, photographs, etc.; also 93 boxes of 33-1/3 RPM phonograph records, 30 boxes of 45 RPM records, and 20 boxes of 78 RPM records
Scope and Contents:
Sam DeVincent organized his collection topically and the present organization is built upon his basic system. In the course of processing this huge collection organized into hundreds of topics, a set of more encompassing topical headings have been developed. For example, the series designation "transportation" gathers together DeVincent's topical headings of "automobiles," "railroads," "bicycles," etc. Each of these larger, conceptual, headings is considered a series and is given a series number. Transportation is series number 1. Each series will be described separately and a composite index will lead researchers into the appropriate series. Terminology is consistent with Library of Congress Subject Headings whenever possible.
Within each series, the topical headings used by DeVincent, or a heading of similar level and type, receive sub-series numbers. For example, "railroads" is part of series 1, transportation, and is given the sub-series number 7. Therefore, "railroads" is designated as 1.7.
All of the sheet music has been placed in folders (from 1 to 45 items per folder) and given a letter of the alphabet. Within each folder, the music is arranged alphabetically by song title. A researcher searching the index for the song Wabash Cannonball (note that very few song titles are indexed) would be directed to "1.7 V." The researcher would then turn to the railroad section of the container list (1.7) and look for folder V and read the folder description.
Most of the sheet music is either a solo piano or a piano/vocal arrangement. There are very few orchestral or band parts and very little music for instruments other than piano. When the word "instrumental" is used in folder descriptions and titles, the music referred to has no lyrics and is for solo piano. Music for other instruments or ensemble parts will be mentioned explicitly in the folder description and usually indexed. Also, duplicates have not been kept in the file unless the sheet is particularly old or fragile (in which case one duplicate was kept if available). Sheets with slightly different covers, different ink colors, or variations in advertising matter are not considered duplicates.
In addition to the sheet music, the collection includes ephemera files corresponding to each series. These files contain items such as lists of sheet music, DeVincent's correspondence with other collectors, wire service printouts received at the radio station where he worked, his notes to be used for cross-indexing ("see also" references), and miscellaneous items relating to the topic. Some materials kept by DeVincent have not been incorporated into the ephemera files, for example most of the popular magazines, Fort Wayne Indiana newspaper clippings about non-musical topics, and some advertising matter.
The ephemera files are numbered with the same series and sub-series numbers as the sheet music. For example bicycles are 1.3 in both the music and ephemera files. A description of the ephemera file follows the sheet music container list. It is followed by an index to the entire series. Many topical headings not directly concerned with the topic of the series are indexed (for example "Women, images of" is an important topic in the bicycle sub-series). The author of each series description made the decisions about topics for indexing.
Series 1: Transportation:
Dates -- circa 1800-1980
Contents -- Series 1: Transportation contains circa 3,900 pieces of sheet music documenting the development of and popular attitudes towards transportation technology in the United States.1.1: Aeronautics1.2: Automobiles1.3: Bicycles1.4: Boats and Boating1.5: Horse-Drawn Vehicles1.6: Motorcycles1.7: Railroads1.8: Urban Transportation1.9 Ephemera
Series 2: Armed Forces:
Dates -- circa 1810-1980
Contents -- Series 2: Armed Forces contains circa 3,400 pieces of sheet music and song folios documenting the military history of the United States; there are only a handful of foreign imprints. 2.1: Pre-Civil War2.2: Civil War2.3: Pre-World War I2.4: World War I2.5: World War II2.6: Post -World War2.7: Naval History2.8: Marine CorpsEphemera
Series 3: African-American Music:
Dates -- circa 1828-1980
Contents -- Series 3: African-American Music contains circa 7,800 pieces of sheet music and folios dating from the 1820s to the 1980s; most of the material dates from after 1890. 3.1: Minstrel Shows and Blackface Entertainers3.2: Uncle Tom's Cabin3.3: African-American Folk-songs and Spirituals3.4: Songs about African-American/Vocal Ragtime3.5: Instrumental and Ragtime Music3.6: Ragtime Composers and Publishers3.7: Blues and Jazz Music3.8: Composers and PerformersEphemera
Series 4: Songwriters:
Dates -- 1817-1982
Contents -- Series 4: Songwriters: The song sheets associated with each songwriter in this series are generally arranged in the following order: General Songs; Ethnic Songs; Armed Conflict Songs or other Topical Headings; Ragtime; Instrumental; Musical Theater Production Songs; Motion Picture Production Songs; Specialized Song Sheets/Editions; Professional/Artist Copy Song Sheets; and Folios/Volumes. List: 4.1 - 4.217Ephemera
Series 5: Politics and Political Movements:
Dates -- circa 1817-1982
Contents -- Series 5: Politics and Political Movements contains circa 1,565 pieces of sheet music and song folios documenting the political history of the United States. 5.1: Patriotic Music5.2: Politicians and Political Figures5.3: Politics and Political Parties5.4: Ku Klux Klan5.5: Prohibition and Temperance5.6: Trade Union5.7: Women's RightsEphemera
Series 6: Moving Pictures and Movie Stars:
Dates -- 1911-1986
Contents -- Series 6: Moving Pictures and Movie Stars: 6.1 Academy Award Songs6.2 Child Stars6.3 Dance Folios6.4 Disney Productions and Other Cartoon Movies6.5 Female Stars6.6 Male Stars6.7 Movie Music6.8 Silent Films6.9 Songs About the MoviesEphemera
Series 7: Sports:
Dates -- 1834-1983
Contents -- Series 7: Sports contains 1,254 pieces of sheet music and song folios. Most of the sheet music is either piano or piano/ vocal arrangements. 7.1: Baseball, 1860-19767.2: Boxing, 1893-19827.3: Fishing, 1847-19627.4: Football, 1894-1978; undated7.5: Gambling and Games of Chance, 1891-19807.6: Golf, 1893-19537.7: Horse Racing, 1899-19687.8: Hunting, 1834-19517.9: Ice Skating, 1861 -1978; undated7.10: Olympics, 1932-19837.11: Ping Pong, 1901-19027.12: Roller Skating, 1871-1980; undated7.13: Skiing, 1908-19717.14: Sleighs and Sledding, 1846- 1967; undated7.15: Sports, Miscellaneous, 1866-19777.16: Tennis, 1893-1914, 1951Ephemera
Series 8: Geography:
Dates -- 1794-1987
Contents -- Series 8: Geography is divided into three sections: the United States, Foreign Countries, and Natural Features. The more than 13,000 sheets date from 1830-1987 and include undated sheets that are probably earlier. The series comprises 33 cu. ft. 8.1-8.49: United States, 1830-1987 (States)8.50-8.51: United States, 1830-1987 (U. S. Regions)8.53-8.89: Foreign Countries, 1794-1982 (Afghanistan - Italy)8.90-8.126: Foreign Countries, 1794-1982 (Japan - Vietnam) & (Foreign Regions)8.127-8.128: Natural Features, 1834-1980Ephemera
Series 9: Domestic and Community Life:
Dates -- 1827-1986; undated
Contents -- Series 9: Domestic and Community Life documents family, love, marriage, home, and social organizations. It does not include Health or Business items, which are included in separate series. Certain issues, such as women's rights, are in Series 2: Politics and Political Movements. 9.1: Adult Family Members, 1836-1985; undated9.2: Children, 1855-1971; undated9.3: Dolls, Stories, Toys, 1860-1984; undated9.4: Songs About and Images of Men and Women, 1828-1972; undated9.5: Home, Neighborhood, and Immigrants/Refugees, 1830-1980; undated9.6: Love, 1827-1982; undated9.7: Marriage, 1829-1976; undated9.8: Friendship and Social Organizations, 1838-1982; undated9.9: Age, Death, and Dying, 1834-1951; undated9.10: Domestic Art and Clothing, 1843-1978; undated9.11:Albums, Lockets, and Memories, 1857-1952; undatedEphemera
Series 10: Sacred Music and Religious Themes:
Dates -- 1822-1986, undated
Contents -- Series 10: Sacred Music and Religious Themes contains approximately 4,000 pieces of sheet music, much of which is traditional Christian music, but also documents popular attitudes towards religion in the United States. Note that the Christmas and Easter subseries include their secular aspects. 10.1, Adam, Eve, and Eden, 1882-197110.2, Angels, 1849-1961, undated10.3, Bells and Chimes, 1848-1956, undated10.4, Biblical Characters and Stories, 1876-1986, undated10.5, Cathedral, Chapel, Church, 1866-1966, undated10.6, Choir, 1880-193710.7, Christmas, 1828-1984, undated10.8, Devil and Satan, 1865-1979, undated10.9, Easter, 1872-1975, undated10.10, Evolution, 1925-196310.11, Heaven, 1866-1975, undated10.12, Inspirational Singers, 1868-197710.13, Madonna, The Virgin Mary, 1855-1953, undated10.14, Miracles, 1929-195910.15, Mormons, 1895-1933, undated10.16, Paradise, 1900-1925, undated10.17, Pilgrim, 1868-1938, undated10.18, Psalms, 1884-1980, undated10.19, Quakers, 1899-1940, undated10.20, Rosary, 1897-195310.21, General Sacred Songs, 1822-1982, undatedEphemera, 1899-1986
Series 11: Entertainment:
Dates -- 1841-1984, undated
Contents -- Series 11: Entertainment contains more than 12,500 pieces of sheet music and other materials documenting the development of and popular attitudes towards entertainers and entertainment in the United States. Note that movies and some musical entertainment are also covered in Series 6, Moving Pictures and Movie Stars, and in Series 16, Country, Western, and Folk Music. Blind musicians and performers are in Series 17. 11.1: Early Troupes & Bandmasters, 1841-1944, undated11.2: Dance Bands and Orchestras, 1905-1964, undated11.3: Novelty Bands, 1901-195211.4: Male Singers (Individual), 1846-198111.5: Female Singers (Individual), 1845-197111.6: Duos and Groups (Male and Mixed), 1903-198111.7: Female Duos and Groups, 1896-196611.8: Child Entertainers, 1852-1927, undated11.9: Impersonators, 1904-198211.10: Actors and Comedians, 1853-198211.11: Theater, 1873-1973, undated11.12: Juke Box, Nickelodeon, 1923-198111.13: Phonograph, Records, Tapes, 1878-197111.14: Radio, Transistor, Wireless, 1898-198411.15: Television, 1931-198711.16: Circus, Fair, Zoo
Series 12: Plants and Animals:
Dates -- 1831-1984, undated
Contents -- Series 12: Plants and Animals contains approximately 4,000 pieces of sheet music and other materials documenting the development of and popular attitudes towards plants and animals in the United States. 12.1, Trees, 1833-1969, undated12.2, Plants and Flowers, 1840-1979, undated12.3, Animals, 1831-1984, undated12.4, Fish, Mermaids, and Aquatic Species, 1832-1978, undated12.5, Birds, 1834-1976, undated12.6, Insects and Spiders, 1853-1968, undated
Series 13: Agriculture, Business, and Law:
Dates -- 1827-1985, undated
Contents -- Series 13, Agriculture, Business, and Law contains approximately 3,300 pieces of sheet music and other materials documenting the development of and popular attitudes towards business, commerce, farming and food, finances, labor, law, and social order in the United States. The series comprises nine cubic feet, plus two boxes of ephemera. 13.1, Business and Jobs, 1927-1982, undated13.2, Farming, Food, and Tobacco, 1836-1986, undated13.3, Finances and Valuables, 1841-1982, undated13.4, Law and Social Order, 1858-1972, undated13.5, Public Services and Utilities, 1836-1984, undatedEphemera, 1901-1987, undated
Series 14: Calendar, Time, and Weather:
Dates -- 1811-1980, undated
Contents -- Series 14, Calendar, Time, and Weather contains approximately 1,800 pieces of sheet music, documenting attitudes toward and consequences of natural events. The four seasons comprise the larger part. 14.1, Years, 1880-1945, undated14.2, Seasons, 1850-1978, undated14.3, Months, 1855-1978, undated14.4, Days of the Week, 1853-196514.5, Clocks and Time, 1844-1967, undated14.6, Weather, 1911-1980, undatedEphemera, 1952-1982, undated
Series 15: Holidays and Celebrations:
Dates -- 1847-1982, undated
Contents -- Series 15, Holidays and Celebrations contains approximately 500 pieces of sheet music and other materials documenting the development of and popular attitudes towards holidays, celebrations, and travel in the United States. Note that Christmas items are in Series 10, Sacred Music and Religious Themes, subseries 7. 15.1, Holiday, Travel, Vacation, 1866-198215.2, Carnival, 1847-1937, undated15.3, Mardi Gras, 1892-1958, undated15.4, Masquerade, 1900-1973, undated.15.5, Halloween, 1853-1962, undated.15.6, Thanksgiving, 1853-1974, undated.15.7, New Year, 1852-1970, undated15.8, Park, 1869-1969, undated15.9, Picnic, 1854-1964, undated15.10, Rolling Chairs, 1905-1923, undatedEphemera
Series 16: Country, Western, and Folk Music:
Dates -- 1839-1986, undated
Contents -- Series 16: Country, Western, and Folk Music, contains approximately 11,500 pieces of sheet music and other materials documenting the development of and popular attitudes towards country, western, and folk music in the United States. The dates always refer to copyright of the music and not to the subject on the cover, songwriter's life, or other events. There are 78 boxes of sheet music and 16 boxes of ephemera. 16.1, Individual Male Entertainers, 1911-1983, undated16.2, Individual Female Entertainers, 1902-1986, undated16.3, Duos and Groups, 1910-1981, undated16.4, The West, 1939-198416.5, Barn Dance, Fiddle Tunes, and "Turkey in the Straw," 1878-197516.6, Blues, Feuding, Hillbilly, Honky Tonk, and Yodeling, 1885-1975, undated16.7, Miscellaneous Songs, 1913-198316.8, Folios, 1914-1969Ephemera --subseries 1-7 and subseries 9-10
Series 17: The Human Condition--Physical, Mental, Behavioral:
Dates -- 1833-1987
Contents -- Series 17, The Human Condition--Physical, Mental, Behavioral contains approximately 1,000 pieces of sheet music and other materials documenting the development of and popular attitudes towards the human condition in the United States. 17.1, Physical Health, 1833-1982, undated17.2, Happiness, 1845-1978, undated17.3, Crazy, Foolish, 1904-1973, undated17.4, Rubes, 1888-1938Ephemera
Series 18: Dance:
Dates -- 1812-1978, undated
Contents -- Series 18, Dance contains approximately 3,330 pieces of sheet music and other materials documenting the development of and popular attitudes towards dance in the United States. 18.1, General Songs about Dance, 1882-1967, undated18.2, Ballroom Dancers and Dance Institute, 1840-1951, undated18.3, Charleston, 1923-196418.4, Fox Trot, 1913-193218.5, Galop, 1842-1924, undated18.6, Gavotte, 1874-1978, undated18.7, Jigs and Reels, 1891-1951, undated18.8, Lancers, 1857-1903, undated18.9, Maxixe, 1913-1914, undated18.10, Mazurka, 1854-1940, undated18.11, Minuet, 1875-1968, undated18.12, One Step, 1910-192118.13, Polka, 1845-1975, undated18.14, Quadrilles, 1831-1883, undated18.15, Redowa, 1853-1908, undated18.16, Schottische, 1850-1944, undated18.17, Skirt Dance, 1891-1893, undated18.18, Square Dance, 1926-196418.19, Tango, 1909-195218.20, Three Step, 1903-191318.21, Two Step, 1894-192518.22, Varsova, 1851-1917, undated18.23, Waltz, 1812-1968, undated18.24, Folios, 1888-1953, undatedEphemera
Series 19: Art and Literature:
Dates -- 1830-1977, undated
Contents -- Series 19, Art and Literature contains approximately 860 pieces of sheet music and other materials documenting popular attitudes towards art and literature in the United States. 19.1, Art and Artists, 1839-1977, undated19.2, Cover Artists and Early Lithograph Covers, 1830-1931, undated19.3, Photography, 1848-196619.4, Carving and Whittling, 1906-194719.5, Books, Diary, and Stories, 1849-198319.6, Poets and Poetry, 1836-1969, undated Ephemera Index
Series 20: Newspapers:
Dates -- 1844-1968, undated
Contents -- Series 20, Newspapers, 1844-1968, contains materials documenting the business of and popular attitudes towards newspapers in the United States. 20.1, Songs about Advertising, the News and the Press20.2, Songs published by Newspapers or about serialized stories20.3, Songs about Newsboys and Newsgirls20.4, Cartoons, Cartoonists, and Comics20.5, Newspaper and Magazine SupplementsEphemera
Series 21: Musical Instruments:
Dates -- 1824-1981 and undated
Contents -- Series 21, Musical Instruments, 1824-1981, undated, contains approximately 4,900 pieces of sheet music and other materials documenting the development of and popular attitudes towards the playing of music in the United States. Numerous teaching manuals are included.21.1, Accordion, 1902-1964, undated21.2, Banjo, 1853-1975, undated21.3, Cello, 1891-1935, undated21.4, Clarinet, 1905-1958, undated21.5, Concertina, 1905-1941, undated21.6, Cornet, 1848-1924, undated21.7, Double Bass, 1939-195521.8, Drums, 1867-1971, undated21.9, Fiddle, 1893-1981, undated21.10, Flute, 1847-1936, undated21.11, Guitar, 1824-1977, undated21.12, Harmonica, 1904-1974, undated21.13, Harp, 1866-1976, undated21.14, Hurdy Gurdy, 1899-196921.15, Mandolin, 1843-1954, undated21.16, Music Boxes, 1848-1979, undated21.17, Organ, 1856-1973, undated21.18, Saxophone, 1907-195321.19, Tambourine, 1854-196021.20, Trombone, 1906-195721.21, Trumpet, 1904-1945, undated21.22, Ukulele, 1915-1964, undated21.23, Violin, 1843-1957, undated21.24, Zither, 1970-1951, undated21.25, Various Instruments, 1835-1968, undatedEphemera
Series 22: American Indian:
Contents -- Series 22: American Indian
Dates -- 1899-1975
Series 23: Universe:
Contents -- Series 23: Universe
Dates -- 1842-1970
Series 24: Education:
Contents -- Series 24: Education
Dates -- 1834-1964
Series 25: Vocal:
Contents -- Series 25: Vocal
Series 26: General Sheet Music:
Contents -- Series 26: General Sheet Music
Series 27: Gypsies:
Contents -- Series 27: Gypsies
Series 28: Opera:
Contents -- Series 28: Opera
Series 29: Piano:
Contents -- Series 29: Piano
Series 30: Marches and Quicksteps:
Contents -- Series 30: Marches and Quicksteps
Series 31: Dialects:
Contents -- Series 31: Dialects
Series 32: Christopher Columbus:
Contents -- Series 32: Christopher Columbus
Series 33: Reveries:
Contents -- Series 33: Reveries
Series 34: Indiana Publishers:
Contents -- Series 34: Indiana Publishers
Series 35: Sam DeVincent Personal Papers:
Contents -- Series 35: Sam DeVincent Personal Papers
Series 36: Folios and Songbooks:
Contents -- Series 36: Folios and Songbooks
Series 37: Other Materials:
Contents -- Series 37: Other Materials
Dates -- 1853-1976
Additional Topical Series:
An updated list of DeVincent topical series is available via the Smithsonian finding aid portal.
The collection is arranged into topical series.
Sam DeVincent was born January 8, 1918 and lived in Fort Wayne, Indiana for most of his life. DeVincent collected sheet music and related materials during most of his lifetime. His interest included both the music and the cover art. Because he had little money to support his collecting, DeVincent gathered most of his material through careful searches and travel.
DeVincent and his wife used much of the music he collected in their musical group "Nancy Lee and the Hilltoppers." The group performed regularly on radio station WOWO in Fort Wayne, Indiana, from 1945 to 1955. After 1955 (and the emergence of rock and roll), "Nancy Lee and the Hilltoppers" played only once a week on the radio station. At this time, Mr. DeVincent worked as an all-night disc jockey at WOWO. In 1960 he became music director and music librarian at the station. His position as music librarian helped him to add to his collection, especially the phonograph recordings (many promotional copies are included).
DeVincent retired from WOWO in 1983. He and his wife continued to perform publicly including a weekly radio show on WOWO. The National Museum of American History acquired the DeVincent collection in the spring of 1988. Sam DeVincent passed away November 29, 1997.
Materials in Other Organizations:
Sam DeVincent Collection of American Sheet Music, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
The Sam DeVincent Collection of American Sheet Music contains approximately 24,000 pieces of sheet music, songbooks, and folios. DeVincent arranged his collection into categories based on either personal names of musicians or performers or on subjects he defined that were as diverse as the American Red Cross and Halloween. The Lilly Library has maintained this arrangement.
All the sheet music in the DeVincent collection is listed in the IN Harmony: Sheet Music from Indiana: Lilly Library web site. Digitized images are available for some items.
Materials in the Archives Center, National Museum of American History:
Donald J. Stubblebine Collection of Musical Theater and Motion Picture Sheet Music and Reference Material, 1843-2010 (AC1211)
This collection was purchased by the Smithsonian Institution in 1988 from Sam and Nancy Lee DeVincent.
Collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.