American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Memory, Exhibit Object Focus

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Star-Spangled Banner

The Star-Spangled Banner
Francis Scott Key (1779-1843)
"The Star-Spangled Banner."
Baltimore: Thomas Carr, 1814
Printed sheet music
Music Division
Purchase, 1941 (29.1)

In 1814, Francis Scott Key wrote new words for a well-known drinking song, "To Anacreon in Heaven," to celebrate America's recent victory over the British. However, only in 1931, following a twenty-year effort during which more than forty bills and joint resolutions were introduced in Congress, was a law finally signed proclaiming "The Star Spangled Banner" to be the national anthem of the United States.

The present copy, one of only five known to have been made by Key, is the earliest of four dating from the period 1840-1842 near the end of his life.

Shown here is a copy of the first printed edition combining words and music -- one of only ten copies known to exist.

Additional Views:
Francis Scott Key
"The Star-Spangled Banner"
"The Star-Spangled Banner",

Washington, D.C., 1840
Music Division
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