pre-1920 popular music resources


Comprehensive surveys:

Songs of selected periods, and arranged by special categories (topical, author, performer, genre, etc.):



Sites with full-length audio files of early recordings:

Sites with sample length audio files of early recordings:

Sites with Midi files and lyrics:

Midi files, no lyrics:


individual artist recordings:



sheet music index:

Library of Congress Digital Collections, selected pages:

other collections, A-Z:


Turn of the century popular music overview:


* hapa-haole:

From the “Etymology and usage” section of the Wikipedia page on the term Hapa:

Hapa-haole also is the name of a type of Hawaiian music in which the tune, styling, and/or subject matter is Hawaiian, but the lyrics are partly, mostly, or entirely in English.[17] Many hapa-haole songs had their musical roots in the Western tradition, and the lyrics were in some combination of English and Hawaiian; these songs first gained popularity outside the Territory of Hawaii beginning in 1912–1915,[18] and include titles such as “My Little Grass Shack in Kealakekua” and “Sweet Leilani.”[19]

** Sheldon Harris Collection, digitized (University of Mississippi Libraries)  — Information provided on the items in the collection may be useful, but on visits in February and March 2014 I found the digitized sheet cover images to be displayed as very small, very poor quality images. As of February 2017, there has been no change in the quality in the images displayed on this site.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Henri Venanzi
    Feb 20, 2012 @ 11:15:49

    Need to locate sheet music of 1890-1915 popular American songs for Arizona Centennial Celebration. Any thoughts on where to get actual copies of music for piano/voice. Thanks.



    • doc
      Feb 20, 2012 @ 13:42:57

      note: This comment has been extensively revised on 5 September 2014.


      That’s rather out of my realm. Typically I use online sheet music collections to search for digital copies of the covers only, though I’ve occasionally copied the sheet music within as well.

      I would try various university sheet music collections. Some of them have each page of a sheet music item available for copying. For example, in a Jan 13, 2013 comment on my Aida Overton Walker page I give detailed instructions on how to access, at two separate library collections, each page of a selected item containing six pages: (1) front cover, (2) advertisement for another song, (3-5) music for the title song, (6) the back cover, where more songs are advertised.

      Hope this helps.

      P.S. One of my favorite digital sheet music collections is the Lester S. Levy Collection. The physical collection is part of Special Collections at the Milton S. Eisenhower Library of The Johns Hopkins University. The digital collection is available at



    • Heather
      Apr 06, 2014 @ 03:38:24

      I know this posting is 2 years old-I just obtained a huge box filled with pre-1920 sheet music. If still interested or know anyone-please send me an email, Thank You!



      • doc
        Apr 06, 2014 @ 12:11:52

        Hi. The age of the page or post — actually in this case it was published on 20 June 2009 — doesn’t matter on this site since I frequently amend them with fresh material, and sometimes make major revisions. Do you wish to provide contact information or a link (email, blog, etc.)?



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