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Collection Patriotic Melodies

About this Collection

Patriotic Melodies tells the stories behind many of the songs that have now become part of the American national heritage. A combination of hymns, national songs, music of the theater, radio and television, military themes, and poetry, all of this music demonstrates that while over history many things have changed, this expression of pride and hope remain a constant part of the American experience.

Only a portion of the most famous patriotic melodies of the United States are highlighted. Items featured include recordings, sheet music, manuscript scores, song sheets, and other print materials. These items do not represent the Library of Congress' entire holdings on a song, but rather a selection. Selection of the songs and their accompanying items was based not only on what songs were the most significant in American history, but also on what unique items the Library had in its collections to illustrate the song.

Because of copyright laws, songs from the twentieth century may not be represented by very many items on the Web site. While every effort has been made to obtain permission to use these songs or portions of these songs, in some cases this has not been possible. Therefore, there may be no recordings or paper items to illustrate those songs, although there will still be text on the history of these songs.

In several cases, the rights' owners of the materials have given permission to only use a portion of the material online. In those instances, only 30 seconds is used from a sound recording, and one or two pages from print or manuscript materials.

Recordings from the U.S. Armed Forces have been used in many cases to represent these songs partly because the site is being released near Memorial Day to commemorate our veterans. These recordings also carry fewer restrictions on dissemination of performance than more recent commercial releases. (Use of these recordings on the site does not reflect any endorsement for this site by the various Armed Forces branches.)

Early recordings that are in the public domain have also been included on this site, not only because they are free to use, but also because they show how renditions and performance styles have changed over the years. These include recordings by the Edison and Berliner companies--some from over a hundred years ago.

Song Collections