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History

Sheet music history offers a panoramic view of America’s struggles, achievements, and famous people. Early song sheets, rich in artistry and vivid colors, documented every major political, sporting, geographical, moral, and whimsical event. Today, the covers are of great interest to collectors, often more so for their artistry than for their music.

History of Sheet Music

Broadsides and Penny Ballads (1600s - 1800s)

Broadsides, sometimes called penny ballads, are single sheets of paper with printing normally on one side only.

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Tin Pan Alley - Sheet Music History - Irish Sheet Music Archives

Tin Pan Alley (1885 - 1930s)

Tin Pan Alley is the name given to the collection of New York City music publishers and songwriters who dominated the popular music of the United States in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

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Black and White Lithography (1800s)

Prior to 1900 the majority of sheet music was published in black and white lithograph engravings or scrollwork.

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World War I Paper Shortage - Sheet Music History - Irish Sheet Music Archives

World War I Paper Shortage (1917 - 1919)

During the World War I years, the U. S. Government requested that industries using consumable products begin to conserve these materials -- including paper goods

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Sunday Newspaper Supplements - Irish Sheet Music Archives - Ward Irish Music Archives

Sunday Newspaper Supplements (1890s - 1908)

William Randolph Hearst began publishing songs in supplemental sheet music in his Sunday newspapers in order to boost circulation.

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Art Deco Influence - Sheet Music History - Irish Sheet Music Archives

Art Deco Influence (1920s - 1930s)

A more stylized graphic art started after World War I.

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Illustrations and Artists - Irish Sheet Music Archives - Ward Irish Music Archives

Illustrations and Artists

Many noted illustrators got their start creating art for song sheet covers.

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Cover Art Decline - Sheet Music History - Irish Sheet Music Archives

Cover Art Decline (1920s - present)

With the onset of the radio in 1920 and the eventual blossoming of the record and movie industry, sheet music sales plummeted and the decline in artistic covers commenced.

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Contact Us

1532 N. Wauwatosa Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53213-2623
Phone: (414) 476-8999
archives@irishfest.com

Irish Sheet Music Archives

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