World War I is considered by many music scholars to be the most musical war in America’s history. Music for and about The Great War was created by all sorts of Americans: professional songwriters, acclaimed composers, church musicians, well- and little-known performers, and uncounted singing teachers, small-town bandmasters, and amateurs. Their melodies and lyrics intersected with the War as propaganda, memorial and commentary, and reflected various public perceptions of and responses to America’s evolving relationship with this international military conflict between 1914 and 1918. Much of this music resonated local themes, specific to communities, ethnic groups, or organizations.
The World War I music contained in the James Edward Myers Sheet Music Collection documents not only what was produced by Midwestern publishers but also offers a compelling cross-section of popular musical practices and tastes across the Midwest during the War. The music, lyrics, and graphic art illustrations in this collection are intended to provide insights into American life during and after the War. Multiple copies of the same song title were included in this collection to document how publishers marketed and repurposed their sheet music for different regional consumers over time. To view all items or search the collection, please visit the Browse page.
The James Edward Myers World War I Sheet Music Collection is part of the James Edward Myers Sheet Music Collection, housed in the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music. Additional information about the Myers Collection is available through the collection's finding aid (https://archives.library.illinois.edu/archon/?p=collections/controlcard&id=3483). Research in the Myers Collection can be supplemented by research in a related University of Illinois Digital Collection: the James Francis Driscoll Collection of American Sheet Music (https://digital.library.illinois.edu/collections/e5ad80f0-8529-0135-01fc-0050569601ca-e).