Processed by: Archives Staff ; machine-readable finding aid created by:Eric Weig
Stephen Collins Foster papers, 1856-1946
1931-1946 (bulk dates)
University of Kentucky Special CollectionsLexington, Kentucky 40506
Collection is open for research.
[Identification of item], Stephen Collins Foster papers, 1856-1946, 1931-1946 (bulk dates), 1M50W1, Special Collections, University of Kentucky.
.8 cubic ft. (144 pieces)
Composer. Foster, a native of Pennsylvania, began writing and publishing music in the 1840's. In 1851 he entered into an agreement with E. P. Christy, leader of the Christy's Minstrels, which permitted the singers to introduce his compositions in public before publication. According to tradition, Foster's visits to the Rowan family mansion near Bardstown, Federal Hill, inspired the writing of "My Old Kentucky Home." The tune, published in 1853, was later adopted as Kentucky's state song. Foster died in New York in 1864. Marion Foster Welch was Stephen Foster's daughter.
This collection consists primarily of correspondence of Samuel M. Wilson concerning the life and work of composer Stephen Collins Foster. Much of the Wilson correspondence was with Josiah Lilly, an heir to the Eli Lilly pharmaceutical company and an expert on Foster. There are other letters to and from Foster descendants and copies of correspondence of Young E. Allison and John Wilson Townsend. Some of the letters describe efforts to ascertain if Foster actually visited Bardstown, and if so, when. Other letters concern memorials to the composer and commemorations of his anniversaries. The collection also includes pamphlets, printed Foster sheet music, periodicals, clippings, and a speech given by Wilson at My Old Kentucky Home State Park. There is also a copy of a verse of "My Old Kentucky Home" written and autographed by Marion Foster Welch in 1934.
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