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‘Battles, Balderdash & Beauty’: U.S. Popular Sheet Music Exhibit from Wildin Collection Opens Sept. 3

Posted on August 26, 2013 in: Academics, Arts, Events, Faculty & Staff, Feature Stories
Howard W. Wildin Collection of American Popular Sheet Music at Gonzaga University

Samples of the Howard W. Wildin Collection of American Popular Sheet Music at Gonzaga. A free, public reception will be held Sept. 12 with a special musical program.

SPOKANE, Wash. – “Battles, Balderdash & Beauty,” an exhibit of sheet music donated to Gonzaga University recently by Howard W. Wildin, opens Sept. 3 and runs through Dec. 3 in the Rare Book Reading Room on the third floor of the Foley Center Library. The exhibit is free and open to the public from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The exhibit will be closed Nov. 28-29 for Thanksgiving.

The Howard W. Wildin American Popular Sheet Music Collection, totaling more than 20,000 pieces, dates from 1835-1980, reflecting the unique attitudes, tastes, and biases of bygone eras. In addition to their value as historical artifacts, many titles have covers that are considered works of art. A free reception, open to the public, will be held on Thursday, Sept. 12 from 2-4:30 p.m. with a special music program starting at 2:30 p.m. that includes singing, piano and banjo

The collection will be studied and used for classroom purposes as well as by individual scholars, according to the wishes of the donor and the University. Currently, the sheet music collection is being scanned and made available digitally for viewing. Since federal copyright laws allow only for pieces published before 1923 to be viewed online, those wishing to see post-1923 items in the collection must come to the Foley Center to view those items.

To view pieces that are not on exhibit, please call to make an appointment at (509) 313-3873. Approximately 3,000 pieces of music are currently available online at the following link:

Due to space constraints, approximately 45 pieces of music from the collection will be on display. In addition, 70 more sheet covers are available to see in a PowerPoint presentation that will run continually throughout the exhibition. Exhibition topics include: “America at War,” “Notable American Popular Sheet Music, ” “Ragtime,” “Humor,” and “Sheet Music Illustrators.” Highlights include: “Old Folks at Home” (1851); “Bonnie Blue Flag” (1861); John Philip Sousa’sStars and Stripes Forever (1897) and Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” (1938). 

In addition, the exhibit is available digitally at the following link [].

For more information, please contact Stephanie Plowman, Gonzaga special collections librarian, at (509) 313-3847 or via email.

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