This extensive collection of American music, assembled over a long period by the Essex Institute of Salem, Massachusetts, was purchased from Goodspeed's of Boston in March 1971. It represents the music collection developed in the course of nearly two hundred years by a semi-public library.
The Essex collection contains a wide variety of printed music materials, including sheet music (10,000+ pieces), hymnals and song books (about 500), some 900 libretti, several hundred concert programs and concert bills. The body of the Essex collection is a group of several boxes of handbills and programs, mainly of musical programs in the Boston area during the nineteenth century
Essex contains about 500 American hymnals and song books of the early nineteenth century. More than 100 vocal and instrumental instruction books are also present. Shape-note hymnals are included, and a number of the books are of reduced size, suitable for transportation to camp-meetings in the minister's saddle bags.
The Essex Hymnal Collection dates from 1774 to 1920 and illuminates the changing history of the United States over a 150 year period. The collection traces the development of the American religious experience through its 443 identified hymnals. These include psalms, tune books, children's hymnals, revival and camp meeting songbooks, Sunday School and multi-denominational hymnals. Represented are abolition, temperance, patriotic and social gospel hymns. Distinct differences can be observed between colonial, pre-Civil War, Civil War, and post-Civil War hymnals. The Essex Collection represents hymnals from a wide spectrum of Christian denominations, and the Jewish religion. Some volumes are shape-note editions while many others are accompanied by instruction in the rudiments of music. One of the collection's greatest strengths is its coverage of significant Sunday School hymnals. Also noteworthy is the existence of several editions or revisions of the same hymnal, which allows for study of a particular hymnal's evolution over time. The Essex Hymnals represent a unique collection of primary source materials of interest not only to serious scholars, but also to elementary and secondary schoolteachers for classroom use, as well as to the general public interested in American culture and music.
Item 106. Joseph Funk. A Compilation Of Genuine Church Music. Winchester, VA.: The Republican,1832.
Essex contains a total of 903 libretti, mainly of nineteenth-century European operas. A few American items such as Bristow's Rip van Winkle and Damrosch's The Scarlet Letter are included. Most of the libretti are American imprints. Some of them are listed below:
Essex has 6000-7000 loose pieces, many with illustrated covers, plus a like number in bound collections. These sheets were published, mainly in America (some English, French, and German items are included) ca. 1802-1945. Both popular and concert vocal music are included, as well as instrumental arrangements for piano, guitar, flute, violin, etc. Opera selections, items from minstrel shows, sentimental ballads and books of instruction are all represented. All the Essex sheet music is indexed on cards, alphabetically by title
E-mail comments and inquiries about the Essex Music Collection to Therese Dickman, Fine Arts Librarian, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 618-650-2695.