Connect with us online
Link to IU Libraries Facebook Link to libraries YouTube channel Link to IU Libraries Twitter Link to flickr photostream Links to libraries rss Link to IU Bloomington podcasts on IU Podcast Portal
News & Archives

News & Events

Online Sheet Music Collection Launches


Four of the state's premier cultural heritage institutions today launch an online collection of more than 10,000 pieces of Indiana-related sheet music, making some of their most popular and sought-after materials freely available via the Internet.

A Web site showcases sheet music from Indiana University's Lilly Library, the Indiana Sate Museum, the Indiana Historical Society, and the Indiana State Library. The Indiana University Digital Library Program led the project.

Drawn primarily from the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, the collection includes works by well-known composers such as George M. Cohan, Cole Porter, Al Jolson, and Jerome Kern. Most of the pieces are related to Indiana by subject matter or because the composer, arranger, lyricist, or publisher has an Indiana connection.

Memorable favorites such as "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and "…Apple Blossom Time" are included because composers and brothers Albert and Harry Von Tilzer were born in Indianapolis.

"One of the project goals," says Patricia Steele, Ruth Lilly Dean of University Libraries, "was to leverage the expertise of IU's Digital Library Program in showing how collections of disparate organizations could be described and organized. Libraries and museums often have different needs, and this project showed how to cross institutional boundaries to the benefit of not only residents of our own state, but to music-lovers throughout the country and even beyond."

Historians and musicologists will value the collection because sheet music is a significant resource chronicling social history and mores, says Stacy Kowalczyk, IU's manager of the project.

"In the pre-television and pre-radio days of the nineteenth century, many homes had pianos, and music was the entertainment of choice. Connections to family stories are inevitable," Kowalczyk says. "Someone will say, 'They played this song at my grandmother's wedding, and I'd really like to have a copy.' With this new database, people can find playable copies of out-of-print music."

One outcome of the project, Kowalczyk says, was to work through the issues of providing consistent terminology and mapping to ensure content is retrieved reliably. Works are searchable by genre, composer, subject, or a range of other categories.

Available downloadable images of music and cover art may be freely used for non-commercial personal use. For materials still under copyright, researchers should contact the holding institutions. The sheet music collections of the Indiana StateLibrary, Indiana State Museum, and the Indiana Historical Society have been completely digitized. Thousands of items from the Lilly Library sheet music collections are currently part of the site, and the entire collections—more than 150,000 pieces—will be systematically added in an ongoing project.

The three-year project was funded, in part, by a $343,437 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the primary source of federal support for the nation's 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums.

The Indiana University Digital Library Program is dedicated to the production, maintenance, delivery, and preservation of a wide range of high-quality networked information resources for scholars and students at Indiana University and elsewhere.

Visit the


Indiana University's Lilly Library contains sheet music in several named collections. The Sam DeVincent Collection of American Sheet Music includes approximately 24,000 pieces of sheet music, songbooks, and folios. The DeVincent Sheet Music Collection complements the Lilly Library's vast Starr Sheet Music Collection, which contains more than 100,000 pieces and ranges from the eighteenth century to modern times. Work on adding entries for the Starr Sheet Music Collection is ongoing.

Indiana Historical Society
sheet music collectionis comprised of items gathered from a number of other collections, with about 950 items related to Indiana by composers including Irving Berlin, Paul Dresser, Al Jolson, Jerome Kern, Fritz Krull, John A. McGee, Cole Porter, and Albert and Harry Von Tilzer. The Historical Society recently acquired the Jane B. Anderson Sheet Music Collection, with approximately 12,000 items, dating from 1854-1980, in subjects beyond Indiana ranging from semi-classical to vaudeville.

Indiana State Library
Indiana Division owns a collection of approximately 1,600 pieces of sheet music with an Indiana connection. These pieces date from 1840 (a campaign song for William Henry Harrison) through the 1960s, with the bulk of the music dating from 1890 through 1950. The collection includes a wide variety of pieces: "booster" songs promoting a particular city or railroad stop; centennial songs from state, county, and city celebrati0ns; religious works, college songs; and songs based on the literary works of well-known authors such as James Whitcomb Riley.

Indiana State Museum
owns about 1,800 pieces of Indiana-related sheet pieces from the Sam DeVincent collection and other sources. The collections include many of the published works of the Von Tilzer brothers, who were born in Indianapolis. Their popular songs include standards such as "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," "Apple Blossom Time," and Put Your Arms Around me." The museum also holds a very good selection of Indiana Ragtime and representative collections of composers Hoagy Carmichael and Cole Porter.