Selection, Indexing, & Access
Selection of items
The items in this digital collection were selected from the cataloged and uncataloged material in the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library and represent a wide variety of musical styles. Because of the strength of Duke's holdings in Southern Americana, Confederate imprints in particular, all of the sheet music published in the South during the Civil War was selected. Only those significantly imperfect items (e.g., pages missing) were omitted. Even then, if the Duke item is unique, it was scanned.
A wide variety of types of music were selected, including bel canto, minstrel songs, protest songs, sentimental songs, patriotic and political songs, plantation songs, Civil War songs, spirituals, dance music, songs from vaudeville and musicals, "Tin pan alley" songs, and songs from World War I. Also included are piano music of marches, variations, opera excerpts, and dance music.
Every effort was made to select music that was representative of the time and genre. Among the many pieces for piano, for instance, there are simple dances for beginning piano students, duets of somewhat greater difficulty, and virtuoso works for the accomplished musician. There are a few songs with guitar, and a few with flute or violin accompaniment. There are even a few pieces for piano, 6 hands (imagine three children on a piano bench!). During the process of selecting items for digitization, we cooperated with Brown Univeristy, who also received a Library of Congress/Ameritech award for an African-American Sheet Music Digitizing Project. Although we have selected some similar editions, every attempt was made to avoid duplication. Thus the Duke collection includes only a small sample of dialect or plantation songs, which were the focus of the Brown project.
In addition to balancing the collection between vocal and instrumental, "classical" and "popular," entertainment for the home and public entertainment (e.g., musicals), we tried to maintain a balance of titles in each decade. Because of the strength of our Southern history collections, however, the Civil War period includes more than any other. This is the breakdown by decade:
1850-1859: 288Indexing policies
Each title was indexed from the original item using a template. Some subject headings were assigned from the Library of Congress subject headings, but more emphasis was placed on assignment of headings developed for this digital collection. Some comparison of composers, authors, etc. names was made with the Library of Congress authority file. Few of the names actually appear in the authority file, and sometimes a name would be established after many items had already been completed. In those cases, there was no attempt to systematically go through every heading after the indexing was completed.Specialized subject access
Phrases designed for this project were used to bring similar material together. These terms are described in the Subject Terms section of the glossary. Each piece was assigned one or more phrases appropriate to the item.