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The Keffer Collection of Sheet Music


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Keffer Collection of SheetMusic

Department of Special Collections
William Penn Keffer Collection of Sheet Music,
ca. 1790-1895

Content and design by John Bewley


The Keffer Collection of Sheet Music at the University of Pennsylvania contains 2,531 scores ranging in date from ca. 1790 to 1895. The great majority of the items were published in the United States and approximately 1,150 items were produced by publishers in Philadelphia. The musical content of the collection consists largely of American popular songs and piano music, but also includes works by famous European composers published in the United States.

American sheet music of the nineteenth century provides a fascinating historical record of contemporary social concerns, issues, events, celebrities, and tastes. This record is further enhanced by the prevalent use of illustrations for title pages, including portraits, landscapes, and scenes of battles or local sites of interest. Many of the most significant American lithographic artists of the nineteenth century provided illustrations for sheet music and a substantial number of their works are included in this collection.

The collection was compiled by Edward Iungerich Keffer, a Philadelphia dentist and noted amateur musician. Dr. Keffer's affection for the city is reflected in the holdings of his collection with its strong representation of the arts in Philadelphia. This component of the collection serves as the nucleus of this site. A list of prominent Philadelphia composers, such as Benjamin Carr, Benjamin Cross, William Henry Fry, Alexander Reinagle, and Septimus Winner, is included, along with brief biographies and images of their music. Historical backgrounds for the music publishing industry and lithography in Philadelphia are also provided, with lists of music publishers and lithographers who worked in the city. The collection also contains items for which Philadelphia served as the subject of either the music or illustration. A separate list has been created of these items.

The Keffer Collection was cataloged in the Research Libraries Information Network, whose public catalog is known as Eureka, through a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts. In addition, the 2,531 cataloging records have been loaded in the University of Pennsylvania Library's public catalog known as Franklin.

Note: The illustration used as the logo for this site is a portrait of William Penn, founder of the colony of Pennsylvania, at the signing of the treaty of goodwill signed with the Delaware Indians in 1682. It is taken from the title page of August Loumey's Bicentennial March, 1682-1882, or William Penn's March.

Table of Contents
Collection History
Guide to Searching the Collection
Statistical Summary of the Collection
Topics Represented in the Collection
Related Resources
Special Topic: Philadelphia

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