Dixie Land Songster
image slider credit: Slippry by booncon rockets
Much of the best work on songsters has emerged from bibliography and folklore. Irving Lowens' Bibliography of Songsters Printed in America Before 1821 (Worcester, Mass., 1976) is an excellent starting point, despite its tight historical frame. Foundational pieces of folklore include Alfred M. Williams's "Folk-Songs of the Civil War," The Journal of American Folklore 5:19 (1892): 265-283, and Cecil L. Patterson's "A Different Drum: The Image of the Negro in the Nineteenth-Century Songster," CLA Journal 8 (1964): 44-50.
Christian McWhirter's recent Battle Hymns: The Power and Popularity of Music in the Civil War (Chapel Hill, N.C., 2012) is the best single-volume study of the "Singing Sixties." Kirsten M. Schultz's essay "The Production and Consumption of Confederate Songsters" in Mark A. Snell and Bruce C. Kelley, eds., Bugle Resounding: Music and Musicians of the Civil War Era (Columbia, Mo., 2004): 133-168 usefully distills her excellent and exhaustive doctoral dissertation. I have also written at length about Confederate literary nationalism in general and "Dixie" in particular: Apples and Ashes: Literature, Nationalism, and the Confederate States of America (Athens, Ga., 2012).
On the relationship between popular poetry and song, see Ray B. Browne's early study "American Poets in the Nineteenth-Century 'Popular' Songbooks," American Literature 30:4 (1959): 503-522 and Michael C. Cohen's engaging essay "Contraband Singing: Poems and Songs in Circulation during the Civil War," American Literature 82:2 (2010): 271-304. And Faith Barrett's To Fight Aloud Is Very Brave: American Poetry and the Civil War (Amherst, Mass., 2012) shouldn't be missed.
Finally, there are important collections of songsters at the American Antiquarian Society, the Boston Athenaeum, the Huntington Library, and the University of Texas at Austin, among many other archives.
comments powered by Disqus