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Old Folks at Home - cover sheet music

[Detail] Old Folks at Home - sheet music

Chronological Thinking: Creating a Timeline of Patriotic Music

Cover of sheet music, with an illustration of a woman with her arms wrapped around a flag

"Freedom's Flag." Who do you think the young woman on the cover of this piece of sheet music represents?

Patriotic music not only provides a vehicle for expression of the composer's feelings about his/her country but also can be used to influence public opinion. A number of the songs in the collection, although first published before 1820, were reissued at different periods to rekindle patriotic fervor. For example, "Yankee Doodle," popular during the period of the American Revolution, was adapted by "Uncle Sam" and reissued in 1847 as "Yankee Doodle in Mexico."

Create a timeline on which you can compare the publication of patriotic songs with other events in U.S. history in the period from 1776 to 1860. Draw the timeline down the center of a piece of paper. Determine the scale (how many years will be represented by an inch on the timeline) and mark the years on the timeline. On the left side of the timeline, enter from five to ten major events during the period. Be sure to include armed conflicts in which the United States was involved.

Now find a number of patriotic songs in the Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1820-1860 collection. You may want to conduct a Keyword Search using the term patriotic music , which will produce a listing of national hymns, patriotic marches, and songs. You may also want to start with the songs listed below.

Add the songs you have identified to the right side of the timeline, placing them by date of publication. If a song recounts something about a prior historical event, be sure that event is shown on the left side of the timeline; draw a line between the song and the event. When you have finished adding the songs to the timeline, examine the results of your work. Can you identify songs that might have been written or published to stir public sentiment about events on the timeline? Go back to the songs and examine the titles, dedications, and lyrics (if any) to look for evidence of the connection. Write a brief description of the relationship between patriotic music and the larger events in a nation, using evidence from your timeline and the songs themselves.