About This Collection
The World War I digital sheet music collection is drawn from the Sheet Music Collection at the John Hay Library. It is composed of over 1,800 titles that relate in some way to the events of World War I, and the impact of that war on American society. There are patriotic songs, songs relating to specific military units, romantic songs of love and loss, comic songs, and songs that look to the war’s end.
Cover art on the songs is particularly striking. The most famous is perhaps Norman Rockwell’s cover for George M. Cohan’s "Over There". The famed sheet music illustrator Barbelle provided many covers, including the amusing "How ‘Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm (After They’ve Seen Paree?)". The cover of Richard Whiting’s eternally popular "Till We Meet Again", with its melancholy blue tones, perfectly complements the wistful quality of the music and lyric.
Photographs of many famous performers are featured on the covers. Eddie Cantor (“Banjo Eyes”) appears on "Would You Rather be a Colonel with an Eagle on Your Shoulder or a Private with a Chicken on Your Knee?". Al Jolson appears on the cover of "Hello, Central, Give Me No Man’s Land". And the noted African-American band leader James Reese Europe is portrayed on the cover of "On Patrol in No Man’s Land".
The World War I sheet music provides a wealth of information about America’s participation in the Great War. Access to the digital collection is by keyword search or by browsing creators and contributors, titles, subjects, and publishers. All pages of the sheet music have been digitized: covers, text and notation pages, and back covers with advertisements.
This project has been supported, in part, by the Scott Chanchien Memorial Library Fund.