The eagle eyed Manuel linkied me via email with ye olde Duke U. repository of American sheet music cover pages, covering the years between 1850 and 1920. Each decade is presented in its’ own browsable gallery, although it takes a few clicks to get to the good stuff.

But the good stuff, well, it’s good.

A typographical horror representing the much-maligned banjo. A nightmarish vision of The Boy with the Auburn Hair. The Bloomer’s Complaint, a Very Pathetic Song. The Captain With His Whiskers.

A page from the 1860-70 gallery with many fine woodtype-esque compositions.

I. W. Baird’s [highly colorful] Musical Album, fom the 1870’s gallery – the era of reconstruction. By no coincidence, this collection (both this decade and after) contains many ‘plantation’ tunes, in which dialect is used to express an imputed longing for the antebellum south on the part of persons of color.

I think it’s worth noting that Duke was at the time and remains a seat of Southern privilege.

Dance of the Night Hawks, who may have been on the prowl for Dusky Dinah, her chicken, or her banjo (still).

Honestly, there is simply too much to summarize. I was obligated to post it to MeFi, Manny: thanks a ton, this is really neat.