Department of Special Collections
William Penn Keffer Collection of Sheet Music,
ca. 1790-1895

Content and design by John Bewley

History of the Collection

The Keffer Collection of Sheet Music was compiled by Dr. Edward Iungerich Keffer (1861-1933), a Philadelphia dentist and accomplished amateur musician. The collection was bequeathed to the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia upon Dr. Keffer's death and i t was housed at the Free Library of Philadelphia. The society deeded the collection to the University of Pennsylvania in 1991.

Dr. Keffer graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine in 1883 and for fifty years was one of Philadelphia's most devoted music patrons, taking a leading role in the formation of the Philadelphia Orchestra. As a violinist, Keffer served as concertmaster of the Philadelphia Symphony Society from 1893 to 1900. He was admitted to membership in the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia in 1897. Founded on 29 February 1820, the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia is the oldest music society in the United States in continuous existence. Its objectives, as stated in its charter, were "the relief of decayed musicians and their families, and the cultivation of skill and diffusion of taste in music," objectives it continues to address in the present day. Keffer served as its Vice President from 1927 until his death. During the years following the turn of the century, he hosted weekly chamber concerts in which the city's most highly-regarded musicians participated.

Keffer was a pioneer in recognizing the value of documenting America's musical heritage, as is evidenced in his extraordinary collection of American sheet music. The collection consists of 2,518 items bearing publication dates that range from the 1790s t hrough 1895. Almost half of the titles were printed in Philadelphia by such publishers as John Aitken, G.E. Blake, Benjamin Carr, George Willig, and Lee and Walker, and included among them are many works composed by Musical Fund Society members. The col lection's importance, however, exceeds the boundaries of Philadelphia and encompasses the whole of the country, representing one hundred years of the music publishing trade. Indeed, the portion of the collection from 1790-1825 was considered important eno ugh to be indexed in Oscar Sonneck's A Bibliography of Early Secular American Music (Washington D.C. : Library of Congress Music Division, 1945) and Richard J. Wolfe's Secular Music in America, 1801-1825: a Bibliography (New York: New York Public Library, 1964). (It should be noted that the collection was housed at the Free Library of Philadelphia at the time both these works were written. It was relocated to the University of Pennsylvania in 1991.)

Eleven manuscript scores were removed from the collection to form the Keffer Collection of Manuscript Music. These scores date from approximately 1798 to 1869. They are shelved as Ms. Coll. 126 in the Department of Special Collections at the University of Pennsylvania's Van Pelt Library.

Keffer arranged his collection by topics. This order was maintained and the topics, with their respective box numbers, are shown below.

Keffer's Topical Arrangement of the Collection
Box 1 Revolutionary songs, marches
Box 2 Benjamin Carr
Box 3 Carr's Volume of Instruction, etc.
Box 4 Carr's Contemporaries
Box 5 Carr's Miscellany
Box 5ACarr's Compositions and Arrangements
Box 5BMadame Le Pelletier's Journal of Musick
VIII Hymns from the Prayer Book of the Episcopal Church
Box 6 Music of the 18th-Century
Box 7 Music, 1800-1820
Box 8 Music, 1800-1820
Box 9-10 Early Opera
Box 11-11A Early Well-known Songs
Box 12 Early Imprints of Haydn, Mozart, etc. and Spurious Beethoven Compositions
Box 13 Battles and Military Dedications
Box 14 Civil War: Color Lithographs
Box 15-16 Civil War: Lithographed Title Pages
Box 17 Civil War: Lincoln and George F. Root
Box 18 Civil War: Pacifists
Box 19 Civil War: Southern
Box 20 Ethiopian
Box 21 Dixie
Box 22 Stephen C. Foster
Box 23 Septimus Winner
Box 24 Orchestras: Jullien
Box 25-26 American Stage
Box 27 Philadelphia Prints
Box 28 Songs of Work, Mack, Hays, White, Thomas
Box 29, 30, 30A, 31 Miscellaneous Songs
Box 32 Miscellaneous Piano
Box 33 Gottschalk, Thalberg, Strakosch, etc.
Box 34 Earl Dances
Box 35 Cottillions and Quadrilles
Box 36, 36A Polkas
Box 37 Schottisches
Box 38 Galops
Box 39, 39A Waltzes
Box 40 Color-lithographed Title Pages
Box 41 Marches and Quick-steps
Box 42 Rondos, Rondinos and Mazurkas

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