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Binder’s Collections

Sheet Music Binder’s Volumes (Binder’s Collections) are made up of individually printed pieces of sheet music that have been bound together subsequent to publication. These collections of “parlor music” were used primarily by women making music in their homes from the middle of the 19th to the beginning of the 20th centuries. The volumes in CLP’s collection contain songs for voice and piano or solo piano, in some cases accompanied by violin.

160 Sheet Music Binder’s Volumes were donated to Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Some volumes are among the library’s earliest acquisitions, donated in the late 1890s. These include over a dozen volumes from C.C. Mellor, a life trustee of the library and owner of a prominent music store in Pittsburgh. Frederic Archer, Pittsburgh’s first city organist and first conductor of the Pittsburgh Orchestra, 1896-1898, donated a few volumes. Some of the donors were anonymous and other donors were proud to have their family name recognized. Some volumes were donated in the name of a mother or grandmother. Volumes also arrived from the personal collections of leading music figures of Pittsburgh and their families or students.

Some volumes had been bound into new covers by the in-house Carnegie Library bindery that once operated in the basement of CLP-Main. For most of the volumes still in their original binding, the name of the owner, always a woman, adorns the cover. In some cases, the provenance was lost when the library re-bound the volumes.

When these collections joined the library’s holdings, the songs themselves were the most important asset. Typed indexes of the songs in each volume were compiled by library staff and inserted into the beginnings of the books. The songs were also organized into a card catalog file which is still located in the Music Department at CLP-Main.

To view the entire collection in the library’s catalog, type “Binder’s collection” into a catalog search and select printed music.

Contact the Music Department for further questions.
Phone: 412-622-3114

The details of provenance that can be determined are listed in the following database.

Binder's Collections at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

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