Frequently Asked Questions
- Will there be more music added to this site?
- How can I find out about other music in your collection that's not on the web?
- How can I get copies of the music on this site or music in your collection but not on the Web?
- Why does the site just include music from 1920 and before?
- How do I print the music?
- I'd like to copy and perform music from your site. Can I do this and do I need to pay royalties?
- I found a mistake. Who do I send it to?
- How can I find out about sheet music on other web sites?
- How can I find out about sheet music in other libraries?
- How can I find out about sheet music published in other countries?
- Do you have any materials on the Civil War?
- Can you tell me the name of the song from <title of movie / musical / etc.>, and do you have it in your collection?
- Do you have any music for <particular instrument>?
- I have some old sheet music in my attic. Can you tell me how much it's worth? Do you want it for your collection?
- Who should I get in touch with for other questions?
There are no current plans to add music to this site. The site was created during 1997 and 1998 under a grant from the Library of Congress/Ameritech National Digital Library Competition and work on the project has now ended.
The Sheet Music Index contains records for sheet music at Duke, including those found on this site. When complete, this index will provide records (without images) for the approximately 20,000 uncataloged sheet music items in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library of Duke University. These are primarily "classical music" and Austrian sheet music from the Alexander Weinmann collection. There are currently no plans to add images to these records.
The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library's collections are open to the general public and we invite people to come to Duke to use them or Contact the Library for more information about music in the Duke collection.
Contact the Library for information on obtaining reproductions of pieces in the sheet music collection.
Due to copyright concerns, the Library of Congress/Ameritech National Digital Library Competition specified that only materials in the public domain be used in the project, and more specifically only those within the date range of 1850-1920. There are no plans to add later dates due to the difficulty in determining which pieces may still be under copyright and obtaining permission to reproduce them via the web.
Printing depends wholly upon your system and the type of software and printer you have. Best results are usually obtained by using a laser printer and the 150 dpi "large" images available on the site.
You can simply use the Print function of your web browser or save the image and print it from a graphics program of your choice. However, please keep in mind the requirements of our Statement on Copyright and Reproduction.
The sheet music included in this site is dated between 1850 and 1920 and to our knowledge is in the public domain, meaning that it may be copied and performed without paying royalties to the original author. However, persons wishing to perform, broadcast, or publish this material must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants of literary property rights or copyrights. The music is intended for personal, research, or educational use only. For these purposes, you may reproduce (print, make copies, or download) materials from this web site without prior permission, on the condition that you provide proper attribution of the source in all copies (Historic American Sheet Music Project, Duke University David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library). See our Statement on Copyright and Reproduction for more information. The Music Library Association's copyright page provides further information on copyright as it relates to sheet music.
Please send us e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what the error is and which page you found it on (please include the URL if possible).
Note that some pieces may be imperfect; the copy in our collection may have been printed incorrectly or may be missing pages. These pieces were frequently included as-is due to the song's or piece's historical importance. Check under "Notes" in the database record for notes about imperfections.
There is a list of digitized collections found at other web sites on the Music Library Association Sheet Music Round Table page.
Many libraries include sheet music in their catalogs and you can look for specific titles through standard searches such as author, composer, title, and subject headings. Usually there is limited access to illustrations, although there are certainly exceptions (Brown University provides excellent subject access to illustrations for some of their sheet music, for instance). Resources of American Music History, a Directory of Source Materials from Colonial Times to World War II by Don Krummel (Urbana : University of Illinois Press, c1981) has an extensive section on sheet music collections. The Music Library Association Sheet Music Collections page provides a list of libraries with online sheet music resources.
Currently there is no comprehensive guide to sheet music repositories in other countries. How you would find out about these resources would depend on the particular country and topic. A listserv or chatroom specific to your topic may prove to be the most efficient method of answering questions.
For broad questions such as this, try doing some searches first. If you want sheet music on a specific topic, see the browse page for lists of topics, or search the sheet music for a specific subject. (Sheet music on the Civil War may be found by searching for "civil war".)
If you want other materials besides sheet music, the Library's Homepage allows for searching within the web pages of this site and the Finding Aids for Archival Collections allows you to search the finding aids describing archival collections held by the library. The online catalog provides access to both book and archival materials in the Library.
Our research services staff can best answer questions if they are specific. We can only answer questions that relate to materials held by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. More general questions should be addressed to the reference librarians at your local public library or educational institution. If you contact the Library, please include in your reference question what kind of project you are working on, any deadlines, what other places you have checked.
Can you tell me the name of the song from <title of movie / musical / etc.>, and do you have it in your collection?
Unfortunately, we cannot answer questions that are this broad, as we do not have the resources available to do so. We recommend that you consult your local public or research library (or other Internet sources) to discover information about specific titles (or composers) that would meet your needs, and then search for those items in our database.
The database records for the pieces of music generally state which instruments they were written for. You can search on the instrument you are interested in on the search page.
I have some old sheet music in my attic. Can you tell me how much it's worth? Do you want it for your collection?
Unfortunately we cannot help with appraising the value of collections. If you want your collection evaluated, you should contact a professional appraiser. A rare books or antiques dealer in your area may be able to help or refer you to an appraiser they work with. You can also refer to a published price guide which may be available in your local library:"The sheet music reference & price guide" by Marie-Reine A. Pafik and Anna Marie Guiheen. 2nd ed. Paducah, KY: Collector Books, c1995.
Although the library is no longer actively collecting historic sheet music, in some cases we may be interested in acquiring new items for this collection. If you have something that you think would find a good home at Duke, please contact the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library with details.
For specific questions about the music in this database, please read the About Sheet Music and Technical Information sections of this site first, and if your question is not answered there, please contact the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.