Before recorded sound, popular music was most frequently played at home by amateur musicians using sheet music. Popular music composers and lyricists tailored their compositions to appeal to the tastes of potential buyers, and sheet music publishers increased the appeal of their product by printing eye-catching artwork on the covers of their releases.
UT Libraries has a large collection of sheet music published between the early 1800s and the mid-1900s. The bulk of this collection was donated by local historian Ronald Allen and many of the works have ties to Tennessee. Approximately 1,500 of these songs and instrumental works form this digital collection, and are also part of the Sheet Music Consortium, which provides access to the sheet music collections from many libraries.
Some of the works in this collection include lyrics or illustrations that, while representative of the times in which they were published, may be offensive to users.