Music for the Nation, American Sheet Music, 1870-1885 demonstrates how popular music reflected sentiments surrounding the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Development of the Industrial United States beginning in 1876. Songwriters' attitudes towards war, work, women, slavery, industry, and ethnicity appear in their lyrics and song styles and often serve as a sounding board for the attitudes of their growing audience. Students may use this collection when examining public interest and reaction to historical events and social change. The section entitled, "How Did These Songs Reach the Public" in "A Decade of Music in America, 1870-79," describes how this collection was performed for its audience.
War Stories: Memories of the Civil War in Song
Patriotic societies started their campaign to commemorate the Civil War in the Reconstruction era. Holidays such as Decoration Day (later renamed Memorial Day) began in 1868 and monuments were constructed when soldiers reorganized as veterans. Students can examine how songwriters joined the celebratory ranks with their various commemorations of the Civil War. A search on war reveals major campaigns remembered in instrumentals such as "Sherman's March to the Sea", while ballads including "Little Joe" and "A Knot of Blue and Grey" feature songwriters recalling the war from the soldiers' perspective.