Scope and Contents
Sam DeVincent organized his collection topically and the present organization is built upon his basic system. In the course of processing this huge collection organized into hundreds of topics, a set of more encompassing topical headings have been developed. For example, the series designation "transportation" gathers together DeVincent's topical headings of "automobiles," "railroads," "bicycles," etc. Each of these larger, conceptual, headings is considered a series and is given a series number. Transportation is series number 1. Each series will be described separately and a composite index will lead researchers into the appropriate series. Terminology is consistent with Library of Congress Subject Headings whenever possible.
Within each series, the topical headings used by DeVincent, or a heading of similar level and type, receive sub-series numbers. For example, "railroads" is part of series 1, transportation, and is given the sub-series number 7. Therefore, "railroads" is designated as 1.7.
All of the sheet music has been placed in folders (from 1 to 45 items per folder) and given a letter of the alphabet. Within each folder, the music is arranged alphabetically by song title. A researcher searching the index for the song Wabash Cannonball (note that very few song titles are indexed) would be directed to "1.7 V." The researcher would then turn to the railroad section of the container list (1.7) and look for folder V and read the folder description.
Most of the sheet music is either a solo piano or a piano/vocal arrangement. There are very few orchestral or band parts and very little music for instruments other than piano. When the word "instrumental" is used in folder descriptions and titles, the music referred to has no lyrics and is for solo piano. Music for other instruments or ensemble parts will be mentioned explicitly in the folder description and usually indexed. Also, duplicates have not been kept in the file unless the sheet is particularly old or fragile (in which case one duplicate was kept if available). Sheets with slightly different covers, different ink colors, or variations in advertising matter are not considered duplicates.
In addition to the sheet music, the collection includes ephemera files corresponding to each series. These files contain items such as lists of sheet music, DeVincent's correspondence with other collectors, wire service printouts received at the radio station where he worked, his notes to be used for cross-indexing ("see also" references), and miscellaneous items relating to the topic. Some materials kept by DeVincent have not been incorporated into the ephemera files, for example most of the popular magazines, Fort Wayne Indiana newspaper clippings about non-musical topics, and some advertising matter.
The ephemera files are numbered with the same series and sub-series numbers as the sheet music. For example bicycles are 1.3 in both the music and ephemera files. A description of the ephemera file follows the sheet music container list. It is followed by an index to the entire series. Many topical headings not directly concerned with the topic of the series are indexed (for example "Women, images of" is an important topic in the bicycle sub-series). The author of each series description made the decisions about topics for indexing.