Guide to the Sam DeVincent Collection of Illustrated American Sheet Music, Series 10: Sacred Music and Religious Themes
Portions of this collection are digitized

Collection ID:
DeVincent, Sam, 1918-1997
Physical Description:
39 Boxes
Sam DeVincent loved music and art and began collecting sheet music with lithographs at an early age. Series 10: Sacred Music and Religious Themes contains approximately 4,000 pieces of sheet music, much of which is traditional Christian music, but also documents popular attitudes towards religion in the United States. An overview to the entire DeVincent collection is available here: Sam DeVincent Collection of Illustrated American Sheet Music.

Scope and Contents note
Scope and Contents note
Series 10, Sacred Music and Religious Themes, 1822-1986, undated, contains approximately 4,000 pieces of sheet music, much of which is traditional Christian music, but also documents popular attitudes towards religion in the United States. Note that the Christmas and Easter subseries include their secular aspects. The materials are arranged by subject. The dates always refer to copyright of the music and not to the subject on the cover, songwriter's life, or other events. In addition, there is one box of ephemera arranged in the same subseries order as the music listing, which is described following the container list. A large part consists of Christmas items, both secular and religious.
Subseries 1, Adam, Eve, and Eden, 1882-1971. This couple and their first home are of endless fascination, with the religious aspect not being the main subject. There are sixteen Broadway shows and revues represented in this subseries.
Subseries 2, Angels, 1849-1961, undated. Almost all the sheets have "angel" in the title; the few that do not have angels depicted on the cover. More "angel" titles are also in subseries 8, Devil and Satan. Songs referring to girlfriends or mothers as angels can be found in Series 9:6, Domestic and Community Life.
Subseries 3, Bells and Chimes, 1848-1956, undated. All titles contain either "bells" or "chimes" which toll from cathedrals, convents, missions, and temples, and at various times of day. "Chime" titles are also in Series 14, Calendar, Time and Weather, subseries 5, Clocks and Time.
Subseries 4, Biblical Characters and Stories, 1876-1986, undated. Noah and Salome account for the largest portion. Others include Hagar, Hezekiah, Joshua, and Shadrach.
Subseries 5, Cathedral, Chapel, and Church, 1866-1966, undated. All titles contain one of these three words. Most of the songs are quite nostalgic, and many refer to the "little" church. Images of these buildings are on covers throughout the series, particularly in subseries 3, Bells and Chimes. Also see Series 14, Calendar, Time and Weather, subseries 4, Days of the Week/Sunday.
Subseries 6, Choir, 1880-1937. These songs are about choirs, and all titles contain the word "Choir." Three publications dedicated to choirs are included. Choral arrangements are integrated throughout the series and have their own folders in subseries 21.
Subseries 7, Christmas, 1828-1984, undated. This music accounts for twenty-eight percent of the entire series. Much of it has to do with the non-religious side of Christmas, such as the tree, family, Santa Claus, and toys.
Subseries 8, Devil and Satan, 1865-1979, undated. Over half the titles contain the word "devil" and are in Folder A. Other songs refer to demon, Satan, and hell, or have devilish covers. Also included are operas and professional copy scores.
Subseries 9, Easter, 1872-1975, undated. Most of this subseries is concerned with the religious context, but note the separate folder for Bunnies, Rabbits, and Eggs.
Subseries 10, Evolution, 1925-1963. This is a small grouping, with half of the titles including "monkey." Other monkey titles are in Series 12, Plants and Animals, subseries 3, Animals, Folders DD-GG.
Subseries 11, Heaven, 1866-1975, undated. Songs referring to "heaven" in a romantic context are in Series 9.6.
Subseries 12, Inspirational Singers, 1868-1977. Fanny Cosby and Stuart Hamblen have one folder each. Hamblen's secular music is in the Country, Western, and Folk Music Series. Note that the dates refer to the copyright of the music and not the lives of the singers.
Subseries 13, Madonna, The Virgin Mary, 1855-1953, undated. This small section all has to do with the Madonna, in various names. Note that the well-known "Ave Maria" is in subseries 21, Multiple Editions.
Subseries 14, Miracles, 1929-1959. These nine songs all have to do with specific places and/or events considered holy. Also see subseries 3, Bells and Chimes for specific churches or missions.
Subseries 15, Mormons, 1895-1933, undated. These few songs concentrate on polygamy and include one "coon" song.
Subseries 16, Paradise, 1900-1925, undated. There are just three titles in this subseries, one of which, "Dream of Paradise," has multiple editions Also see Series 9.6 for the romantic view of paradise.
Subseries 17, Pilgrim, 1868-1938, undated. This small folder contains five titles, one of which, "I'm a Pilgrim," has multiple editions.
Subseries 18, The Psalms, 1884-1980, undated. There are twelve different psalms represented, with Psalm XXIII having the most.
Subseries 19, Quakers, 1899-1940, undated. Most sheets have "Quaker" in the title. Two covers have girls dressed as Quakers, and one cover is of the Armstrong Quaker Orchestra.
Subseries 20, The Rosary, 1897-1953. In addition to several "Rosary" titles, there are nine composers of "My Rosary" (also, "The Rosary"), with words by Robert Cameron Rogers.
Subseries 21, General Religious Songs, 1822-1982, undated. Almost one half of the series is in this section. If you do not find a specific title in Folders A-BB, look under Buds and Blossoms editions in Folder CC, the multiple editions of twenty-eight individual titles in Folders DD-WW, or the choral arrangements in Folders CCC-EEE. Folios are in Folders XX-BBB.
Ephemera, 1899-1986, is in Ephemera Box 28. Christmas items account for about one half. The religious items include church programs, printed prayers, and newspaper articles.

Arrangement note
Arrangement note
Arranged in 22 subseries.
  • 10.1: Adam, Eve, and Eden
  • 10.2: Angels
  • 10.3: Bells and Chimes
  • 10.4: Biblical Characters and Stories
  • 10.5: Cathedral, Chapel, Church
  • 10.6: Choir
  • 10.7: Christmas
  • 10.8: Devil and Satan
  • 10.9: Easter
  • 10.10: Evolution
  • 10.11: Heaven
  • 10.12: Inspirational Singers
  • 10.13: Madonna, The Virgin Mary
  • 10.14: Miracles
  • 10.15: Mormons
  • 10.16: Paradise
  • 10.17: Pilgrim
  • 10.18: Psalms
  • 10.19: Quakers
  • 10.20: Rosary
  • 10.21: General Religious Songs
  • 10.22: Ephemera

NMAH Staff
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
This collection was purchased by the Smithsonian Institution in 1988 from Sam and Nancy Lee DeVincent.

Digital Content

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation note
The Sam DeVincent Collection of Illustrated American Sheet Music, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Conditions Governing Access note
Collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use note
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.

Materials in Other Organizations
Materials in Other Organizations
Sam DeVincent Collection of American Sheet Music, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
This collection contains duplicates of materials in the Smithsonian collection, as well as materials acquired by Mr. DeVincent after the donation to the Smithsonian. The phonograph records described above were transferred to the University of Missouri at Kansas City.

Materials in the Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Materials in the Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Donald J. Stubblebine Collection of Musical Theater and Motion Picture Sheet Music and Reference Material, 1843-2010 (AC1211)

Forms Part Of
Forms Part Of
Series 10: Sacred Music and Religious Themes forms part of the Sam DeVincent Collection of Illustrated American Sheet Music .
An ongoing, updated list of DeVincent topical series is available via the Smithsonian finding aid portal.

More Information

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012