Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Hugo Worch Piano Photos

Collection ID:
Worch, Hugo, 1855-
Physical Description:
40 Cubic feet
82 boxes

Content Description
Content Description
The collection includes photographs of pianos and other keyboard instruments.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Hugo Worch was born in Potsdam, Germany, November 15, 1855 and died in Washington, DC, November 14, 1938). Worch was an American collector of and dealer in keyboard instruments. His father, Christian, had a music business in Trenton, New Jersey, from c1858 to 1861, and in Washington from 1863 to 1868 and again in 1883; Worch and his brother Emil took this over in 1883, and after Emil's death his widow and Hugo continued the business as Hugo Worch & Co. from 1884 until 1895. After 1895 the firm of Hugo Worch sold instruments (including pianos sold under the Worch name but manufactured elsewhere), sheet music, and, as tastes changed, phonographs, recordings, and radios. The firm went out of business in 1960 on the retirement of Hans Hugo Worch, who had bought it from his brother Carl and sister Paulina in 1954.
In the 1880s Worch began collecting keyboard instruments that showed the development of the American piano industry from the 1790s to 1850. Later he added to his collection examples of clavichords, harpsichords, and pianos by such European makers as Shudi, Ruckers, Stein, and Broadwood. From 1921 to 1938 he held the title of honorary custodian of musical instruments at the Smithsonian Institution. Absorbed with the history of the piano, he acquired a collection of nearly 200 instruments and over 2000 photographs showing details of keyboard construction. From 1914 his collection of keyboard instruments formed the nucleus of the keyboard collections at the Smithsonian. His library of over 3000 books relating to keyboard construction and 500 bound volumes of American sheet music was dispersed after World War II.
Worch, Hugo. Oxford Music Online, Grove Music Online. (accessed October 18, 2018)

NMAH Staff
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Immediate source of acquistion unknown.
Processing Information
Collection is partially processed.
Custodial History
Collection transferred to the Archives Center from the Division of Culture and the Arts (now Division of Cultural and Community Life), 2017.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research but is stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Contact the Archives Center for information at or 202-633-3270.
Preferred Citation
Hugo Worch Piano Photos, Archives Center, national Museum of American History
Conditions Governing Use
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.

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Keyboard instruments Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
pianos Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

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