Library of Congress > Collections > The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

Overview

See and Hear American History Through Song

"Know the songs of a country and you will know its history for the true feeling of a people speaks through what they sing."

– Preface to The Songs of Henry Clay Work (1884)

Listen to the changes in the “Star Spangled Banner” as played by different bands in different eras. Look at the ways in which sheet music cover art documents historical themes. Read essays discussing the histories of musical styles. Watch videos pairing sound recording with period illustrations. All this and more awaits you as the Library of Congress celebrates The Songs of America.

The Songs of America presentation allows you to explore American history as documented in the work of some of our country's greatest composers, poets, scholars, and performers. From popular and traditional songs, to poetic art songs and sacred music, the relationship of song to historical events from the nation's founding to the present is highlighted through more than 80,000 online items. The user can listen to digitized recordings, watch performances of artists interpreting and commenting on American song, and view sheet music, manuscripts, and historic copyright submissions online. The site also includes biographies, essays and curated content, interactive maps, a timeline and teaching resources offering context and expert analysis to the source material.