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.
All sheet music collections are shelved in closed stacks and may be accessed only by staff for use in the reading room. Researchers who are not able to visit the Center in person may make inquiries by telephone, letter or email. Research assistance and reproduction services are available.
To limit your search to sheetmusic, use the Center's Advanced Search and select the check box beside "Sheet Music" before performing your search.
Some Individual Collections
Ray Avery Collection
Mr. Avery is a renowned west-coast collector and dealer in records, sheet music and musical items, as well as a noted photographer of important jazz figures. Through both sale and gift, Mr. Avery has transferred to the Center a significant collection of sheet music, sound recordings, photographs, and manuscripts. The Avery sheet music collection consists of more than 1900 pieces, which includes a strong collection of World War I and II tunes, "coon" songs, ragtime, jazz, and blues.
The show collection includes approximately 6500 songs from musicals dating to 1853. The pieces are arranged by show title (Series) and song title. To search for songs from a specific show, use the Advanced Search and enter the show title in the Keywords field.
Motion Picture Music
The Center holds approximately 3300 pieces of sheet music associated with original motion picture soundtracks. The pieces are part of the general sheet music collection. To identify pieces of interest use the Advanced Search screen and enter the term "motion picture music" in the subject field. You may also enter a specific motion picture title in the Keywords field.
The Center has assembled a collection of more than 1000 orchestrations, dating from the 1890s to the 1960s. Many of these are scored for the instrumentation typically found in a jazz orchestra or a dance band. The collection is particularly strong in orchestrations that would have been used to accompany silent movies.
This collection includes fragile newsprint editions of popular tunes. Most were published as supplements to newspapers during the 19th century.
Confederate Sheet Music
This small collection of rare materials includes southern imprints from the Civil War era, most of which have a political or military theme.
Bound Sheet Music Volumes
In earlier days it was common for individuals to have their sheet music collection custom-bound into a "binder's volume." These are particularly valuable because contexts of home music-making are preserved. The Center holds more than 200 such volumes, most dated in the 19th century.