To help commemorate Memorial Day, celebrated this year on Monday, May 27th, we’ve selected some of our sheet music from our Archives to share. Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, developed out of the tradition of decorating the graves of the Union and Confederate soldiers after the Civil War. It has grown to honor all military who have died in service to this country. It typically marks the beginning of the summer season while Labor Day indicates summer’s end. Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day, which is to honor the service of all military, living or dead. If you want to learn more about Memorial Day, including veterans war stories from the Veterans History Project, visit: http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Memorial-Day.shtml.
The sheet music in the Archives ranges from handwritten to published, with the majority being published, and from 18th century to 20th century, with the bulk being early 20th century. Like many of our other components, the music comes from different donors with varying provenances. While sheet music is some of the more entertaining (no pun intended) items in the collection, it is also a fascinating glimpse into our own history, each with its own story to tell.
- Published in 1944; words and music by Elsie M. Hulme. The sheet music we hold in our Archives, does not seem to be the same as what can be found elsewhere (words are different). So, currently there is no site at which to hear this version.
- Published in 1918; lyrics by Bud de Sylva and Gus Kahn, music by Albert Gumble. Listen this piece
- Published in 1944; words and music by Moe Jaffe. This is a sanitized re-working of an older folk song called Rosemary Lane. The 20th century version of this song does not appear to be freely available, although the lyrics can be found in many places including here. The older version (recorded by Oscar Brand) is available to hear for those who want to see how the lyrics were changed.
- Published in 1942, this is an illustrated souvenir album of Irving Berlin’s ”This is the Army,” a Broadway musical and, later in 1943, a movie. Proceeds from the sale of this book went to the Army Emergency Relief Fund. The book includes the music for ten songs including, ”This is the Army, Mr. Jones” and ”The Army’s made a man out of me.” See the original trailer for the movie.
- Published in 1904 by F. Karasek, who is also listed as the creator. This appears to be a local piece as it was published at Fort Moultrie, South Carolina. It is a march, with no lyrics, and is respectfully dedicated to the officers and men of the U.S. Army.
- This particular sheet music was copyrighted in 1919, which is the first copyrighting of the Marines’ Hymn. On the back cover is the notation that the Marines’ Hymn has been sung for ”almost a hundred years” (more than that now). Tradition puts the origin of the song during the Mexican War in 1847 but its unknown if this is true. Likewise, its author is unknown. Regardless, it is the oldest official song in the U.S. Armed Forces. Listen
- Originally copyrighted in 1939, this set was published in 1942; words and music by Captain Robert Crawford. For anyone familiar with the Air Force Song (Off we go into the wild blue yonder…), this is the same song with some wording change to reflect the name of the branch (Army Air Corps vs. Air Force). The Air Force was not originally its own branch but a part of the Army (hence Army Air Corps). The Air Corps was the predecessor of the Army Air Forces, which in turn, eventually became today’s modern Air Force. Hear this piece sung, with the Army Air Corps wording.
EPHEMERA FRIDAY: Each Friday we post a selection or small collection from our Archives. Some items may be on exhibit, some may be too fragile to display and some may be too unusual to fit into our typical Lowcountry exhibit themes. We will occasionally ask for help identifying people or places in photographs that have come to us with little or no information. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on EPHEMERA FRIDAY.