About this Collection

Before the age of radio, television, and other electronic diversions, families made their own entertainment in the home by playing games, reading aloud, performing plays, and, of course, by making music. Children were taught to play the piano and sing from an early age and sheet music was widely available and inexpensive. The whole family participated in the music-making.

In this presentation, we focus on nineteenth-century Cincinnati, a major commercial center and a "Gateway to the West" for both long-time residents and recent immigrants seeking a new start in a new land. This parlor music is presented through audio recordings and sheet music, and focuses on themes that reflect the social, economic, and religious values of the time. Since the songs were created for home performance, they give special insight into the domestic life in which these values developed.