Archival Collections

About | Quick SearchSheet Music | Broadsides | Rare Books | Manuscript Collections | Performance Documents | Photographs | Trade Catalogs | Periodicals | Unavailable Online


The Center for Popular Music makes available a wide variety of music and related materials for research and study. From original 18th-century tune books to digital files, the CPM's special collections contain all popular formats of music dissemination. Collections of music include Sheet Music, Song Broadsides, Rare Books and Scores, and Sound Recordings. The CPM also collects related materials that further enable the study of popular music, such as Photographs, Trade Catalogs, Posters, Playbills, and Programs, Periodicals, Vertical Files, and Manuscripts.

Quick Search

The Center for Popular Music's collections can be searched using our in-house database and by using the James E. Walker Library's online catalog. Looking for a specific format? Please read the format specific information found below.

Sheet Music 

The Center's collection of sheet music includes items from the late-18th century to the present. Approximately 110,000 items have been cataloged and are searchable online using our Inmagic Database. To limit your search to Sheet Music, select the check box beside "Sheet Music" before performing your search.

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The Center’s collection consists of approximately 4900 lyrics-only items. Most are from the 19th century, and are printed on inexpensive paper, with or without illustration. These songsheets are searchable using either the Walker Library catalog or our Inmagic Database.

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Rare Books & Scores

The Center has a strong collection of older song books (both secular and sacred), hymnals, songsters, and instrumental tutors and tunebooks that illustrate the breadth of American vernacular music from the 18th century to the present. These books are organized into the categories described below. The collection includes approximately 9,000 items and is searchable online in both the James E. Walker Library catalog and our in-house Inmagic Database.

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Manuscript Collections

The Manuscript Collections within the CPM archives are unique documents such as an artist's, author's, or music business person's papers, letters, diaries, oral interviews, home or transcription performance recordings, scrapbooks, and photographs. A Manuscript collection can be one scrapbook or hundreds of boxes filled with paper materials, photographs, audio tapes, and more. All Manuscript Collections have a catalog record in the James E. Walker Library catalog outlining the basics of the collection with a link to a more detailed finding aid. If you are interested in browsing our manuscript collections, you can find a list of finding aids using the link under "Search Our Collections" on the left sidebar.

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Performance Documents

This collection is searchable in the James E. Walker Library Catalog and includes posters, playbills, and programs for musical events. Of particular interest are items related to blackface minstrel shows of the 19th and early 20th century, a rare 19th century scrapbook of 200+ items, and the Nashville Show Poster collection of block print performance advertisements. All minstrel items, the scrapbook and parts of other collections have been cataloged.

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The Center holds more than 11,000 iconographic items, both photographic and printed. The collection is searchable in the James E. Walker Library Catalog and includes images made by various photographic processes, such as daguerreotypes, albumen prints, black and white prints, 35mm negatives, color slides and prints, as well as visual images in other formats, such as lithographs, postcards, and trade cards. A large portion of the cataloged collection consists of individual images of specific musicians, artists, bands, and groups. The Center also photographically documents its own public lectures and performances.

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Trade Catalogs

The Music Trade Catalog collection consists of commercial product catalogs relating to music and music trade dating from the mid-19th century to the present. Approximately 750 companies and manufacturers are represented. Holdings document the commercial trade in sound recordings, sheet music, musical instruments, sound recording equipment, and more. Search this collection using our Inmagic Database.

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The Center maintains a collection of magazines and academic journals covering vernacular music in its many genres. In all, the Center has holdings for nearly 2,200 different periodicals, ranging from single issues to full publication runs. These periodicals are maintained in two separate collections. We are currently working on making these collections searchable online. In the mean-time, please contact the reference desk to inquire about our holdings.

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Collections Unavailable Online

Some of the Center's collections are not available for searching online but can be searched in the Reading Room using our in-house databases. These collections include Vertical Files and some of our Sound Recordings.


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American Vernacular Music Manuscripts

Kenneth S. Goldstein

My Homeland Tennessee

Charles K. Wolfe

Sam T Lucas

MTSU Box 41
1301 E. Main Street
Middle Tennessee State University
Murfreesboro, TN 37132

Room 140
Bragg Media & Entertainment Bldg.

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