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Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

Articles About Songs

Original essays and articles are available on this site to help provide historical context and a deeper view for those who wish to learn more about particular topics. The Library's curators have written articles on historical topics and song, musical styles, individual songs, and songs of various ethnic groups in America.

The Library's curators have grouped songs into four functional categories to help you navigate the seemingly infinite variety of American songs: Popular Songs;  Parlor and Concert Stage; Traditional and Ethnic Music; and Worship and Praise. Additionally, six historical topics provide a different framework for teachers and students to explore American song:  Immigration and Migration; Work and Industry; Social Change; Peace and War; Politics and Government; and Sports and Leisure.  Essays that provide insight into specific musical styles such as The History of Ragtime and The American Art Song are also available. Certain essays give the history of individual songs, such as the traditional ballad "Shenandoah" or "Beautiful Dreamer" by Stephen Foster; others focus on broader topics, for example, World War I and Popular Song; Songs of Women's Suffrage; and Concert Life in Philadelphia before the Revolutionary War.  Essays on the songs of various ethnic groups in America are also represented, including Mexican America Song and Comanche and Kiowa Song and Dance

Examples of Musical Styles:

Examples of Individual Songs:

Examples of Historical Topics and Song:

Examples of Ethnic Song:

See all song articles