Sunday, May 13, 2012
New Acquisition: The BMI Archives Confederate Music Collection
When: through July 13, 2012
Oh happy day - an exhibit at the archives center and an exhibit in the Small Documents Gallery, my two favorite locations in the American History Museum. No matter how crowded the rest of the building might be, these two out of the way spots are always a refuge from the tourists.
The archives is showing off selections from a recent acquisition, a collection of Confederate sheet music. Since the museum already has an extensive collection of Northern sheet music from the Civil War era, this will round out their set nicely. Sheet music helps to provide understanding of the concerns and interests of the people who used it to play music, the ordinary people who lived during the time period in question. Apparently, during the War, patriotic songs were the music of choice for the civilian population, but the soldiers themselves preferred sentimental ballads telling of home and lost loves.
Something I learned is that "Dixie," the song that became the unofficial anthem of the Confederate South, was composed by a Northerner and originally performed in a New York minstrel show. There was some early resistance to the adoption of the song as a Southern anthem for just this reason, but general popularity seems to have won out.
Verdict: As always, I know that archival exhibits are not everyone's idea of an exciting way to spend some time. I, however, have a fondness for historical documents, so I'm almost always pleased with what I see. This exhibit would also appeal to the Civil War buff.