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Biography Henry Clay Work

Henry C. Work: author of Marching Thro' Georgia. c. 1887. Prints and Photographs Division.
Detail from "Henry C. Work: author of "Marching Thro' Georgia." c. 1887. Prints and Photographs Division.

Henry Clay Work (1832-1884) was born in Middleton, CT to abolitionist parents. A printer by trade and self-taught song composer, Work was employed by the Root & Cady music publishing house in Chicago and published his first song in 1853. Known for his emotionally charged Civil War songs such as Marching Through Georgia (1865), he was one of the most popular songwriters of the era. In 1884, Work's nephew Bertram published a collection of 37 songs under the title The Songs of Henry Clay Work which was reprinted multiple times. In an introduction to the 1884 edition, Bertram G. Work wrote, "Know the songs of a country and you will know its history for the true feeling of a people speaks through what they sing."