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African American Songs (Exhibit Case 9)
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An exhibit of material from the collection of Lewis Becker, Professor of Law, Villanova University School of Law. March 13, 2006 – April 28, 2006 Falvey Memorial Library Villanova University

African American Songs (Exhibit Case 9)

The bulk of printed songs dealing with African Americans in the early parts of the 19th century was mostly racist and minstrel in nature. Only the occasional poem recognized the plight of slaves.


Christy’s Panorama Songster.
New York: William H. Murphy, n.d.

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Christy Minstrels. Complete Repertoire of the Songs, Ballads, and Plantation Melodies Sung by the Veritable and Legitimate Christy Minstrels.
London: Hopwood & Crew, n.d.

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Christy, George and Charles Fox. Ethiopian Melodist and Joke Book.
New York: Frederic A. Brady, n.d.

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This volume contains five individual publications: Charley Fox’s Ethiopian Songster, George Christy’s Joke Book No. 2, George Christy’s Joke Book No. 3, Charley Fox’s Bijou Songster, and The Sable Songster

Damon, S. Foster. Series of Old American Songs; Reproduced in Facsimile from Original or Early Editions in the Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays, Brown University.
Providence, R.I.: Brown University Library, 1936

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Includes 50 separate reproductions of song sheets with brief annotations

Uncle True Songster.
Philadelphia: Fisher & Brother, [1800-1899?]

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After the Civil War there was an increase in the publication of books containing African American religious songs.

Allen, William F. Slave Songs of the United States.
New York: A. Simpson, 1867

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This book is considered to be the seminal collection of slave songs

Later, scholars and collectors began collecting non-religious folksongs and other African American traditional songs.

Scarborough, Dorothy. On the Trail of Negro Folk-Songs.
Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1925

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Odum, Howard W. and Guy B. Johnson. The Negro and his Songs.
A Study of Typical Negro Songs in the South.
Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1926

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Johnson, Guy B. Negro Workaday Songs.
Chapel Hill: University of North Caroline Press, 1926

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Handy, W. C. Blues. An Anthology. Edited by W. C. Handy
New York: Albert & Charles, 1926

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Locke, Alain. The Negro and His Music.
Washington, D.C.: Associates in Negro Folk Education, 1936

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Talley, Thomas W. Negro Folk Rhymes, Wise and Otherwise.
New York: Macmillan, 1922

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