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Bernard S. Parker World War I Sheet Music Collection

Identifier: UFWWI

Scope and Content

The Bernard S. Parker World War One Sheet Music Collection consists of 753 pieces of sheet music (most are the larger format 11x14 inch size with a small assortment of 7x10 inch "War Editions"). The sheet music is organized alphabetically by title. Most were published between 1914 and 1920, but a few date back to the late 19th Century.

In his two-volume WORLD WAR I SHEET MUSIC (McFarland and Company, Inc., Jefferson, North Carolina - 2007), Dr. Parker addresses the history of Tin Pan Alley, the founding of ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and the overall business of sheet music publishing in the early years of the 20th Century. He describes the songs of the First World War as "...highly structured and usually popular for a very short time if at all. The style format was inflexible and involved two verses and a chorus. Since the range of the subject matter was also quite narrow there were many duplicate titles and overused words and phrases..."

Along with the overall patriotic theme ("I Love My U.S.A.," "Let's All Be Americans Now," "Our Country," The Statue of Liberty is Smiling," "The Flag That Never Retreated," etc.), the collection researcher will discover multiple pieces of sheet music dealing with separation emphasizing mothers and sons, sweethearts, wives and husbands and babies and fathers ("Goodbye Mother Machree," "Rocked in the Cradle of Liberty," "Break the News to Mother," "I'm Going to Follow the Boys," "Just A Baby's Prayer at Twilight," "Please Bring My Daddy Back," etc.). The subject of life on the homefront is also generously represented with titles such as "Over Here," "The Service Flag," "We're With You Boys," "We'll Do Our Share," "When It Comes to a Lovingless Day," "The Man Behind the Hammer and Plow," etc. The war-torn map of Europe is depicted by songs spotlighting many countries involved in "The War to end all wars" ("Goodbye Broadway, Hello France," "Belgain Rose," "They're On their Way to Germany," "China We Owe A Lot To You," etc.)

Other subjects, musically rendered, include socialism ("Song of Freedon"), U.S. neutrality ("America First," The Neutrality March," etc.), Uncle Sam as a symbol ("My Life Belongs to Uncle Sam," "We're Uncle Sammy's Little Nephews," etc.), the American South ("For Dixie and Uncle Sam," "Dixie Volunteers," "Everything is Peaches Down in Georgia," etc.), tributes (and criticism) of various military leaders and statesmen ("When the Kaiser Does the Goose-Step to a Good Old American Rag," "Hello General Pershing," "Be Good to California Mr. Wilson," etc.), the battlefield ("Over the Top," "Keep the Trench Fires Going for the Boys Out There," "Rose of No-Man's Land," etc.) and the post-war period ("Homeword Bound," "I've Got My Captain Working for Me Now," "Tell Mother the World War is Won," etc.).

Popular performers of the period who introduced or promoted a song are included as full-cover models or in inset photographs on the sheet music covers (Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, Irene Castle, Eva Tanguay, Blanche Ring Nora Bayes, etc.) as are many of the more well-known songwriters whose image would possibly increase sheet music sales (John Philip Sousa, George M. Cohan, Iriving Berlin, Joseph Howard, the Von Tilzer Brothers, etc.).

Graphic artists who sketched or painted the colorful scenes on each piece of sheet music were often unidentified, but a handful of image creators did sign their work and are well-represented throughout the collection (Norman Rockwell, Edward H. Pfeiffer, the Starmer Brothers, Albert Wilfred Barbelle, Andrea de Takacs, etc.).

The collection represents a country and culture at a crossroads and offers a myriad of research options. As Dr. Parker writes: "....The United States was rather naive as it entered World War I. There had been no great mobilization since the Civil War and the skirmishes in Cuba and Mexico were hardly on a par with the Great War. America learned how to do war as it happened, and popular songs appear to have had a significant impact ans served a useful purpose in bringing the nation together both before and after the war..."


  • Creation: Circa 1914-1919



The entire collection is open for research, but, if possible, researchers should contact the collection curator, Jim Liversidge, prior to requesting materials.

Biographical/Historical Note

Bernard S. Parker, Ph.D. (1939 - ) is a retired philosophy professor and college president (Anna Maria College in Paxton, Massachusetts) who enjoys writing and travelling. As a longtime collector of World War I sheet music, he realized there wasn't a publication that listed and described all of the various types of sheet music written about the war. In order to remedy this glaring lack of research, Dr. Parker began an extensive three year project working with the noted World War One Sheet music collections of Craig Lacy and Lee Schreiner and his own collection, as well as extensive research in the Performing Arts Reading Room of the Library of Congress. The result was his two-volume WORLD WAR I SHEET MUSIC published in 2007 by McFarland and Company Publishers, considered the quintessential reference resource on the subject. According to Dr. Parker: "...Popular music and singing certainly played a significant role during World War I...Not only was it significant for the soldiers but also for the folks back home. Patriotic war songs published as sheet music both mirrored and shaped public attitudes toward the conflict..."

Dr. Parker is a member of the Society of the Descendants of the Founders of Hartford, Connecticut and is the author of PURITAN PARKER: HISTORICAL NARRATIVE OF SERGEANT WILLIAM PARKER, ONE OF THE FOUNDERS OF HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT AND A VETERAN OF THE PEQUOT INDIAN WAR OF 1637 (published in 2007). He is also active as a team leader for Habitat for Humanity's Global Village program, organizing several trips each year to build houses all over the world including Sri Lanka, Nepal, Romania, Zambia, Fiji Islands, Mongolia, Paraguay, Bolivia, Chile, Ethiopia and Uganda.


6 Linear feet (12 Boxes)

Language of Materials



Collection of 753 pieces of American (U.S.A.) sheet music pertaining to the First World War (1914-18), the 12-volume compact disk set of WORLD WAR ONE SONGS (produced by Old Time Victrola Music), and a copy of the two-volume 2007 McFarland publication WORLD WAR I SHEET MUSIC by Bernard Parker.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

Dr. Bernard S. Parker, who lived locally at the time, contacted Jim Liversidge (Curator of the Popular Culture Collections) in August of 2011 after discovering a copy of his two-volume SHEET MUSIC OF WORLD WAR ONE set included in the Popular Culture/Belknap Performing Arts Collection monograph reference collection. Dr. Parker was searching for a repository to house his personal collection of sheet music and after discussions with Jim Liversidge and the George A. Smathers Libraries Development office he delivered his gift to the Department of Special and Area Studies Collections on September 9. 2011.

Related Material

Additional sheet music pertaining to the First World War, may be found in the general Belknap Performing Arts Sheet Music Collection in the University of Florida Popular Culture Collections under "Patriotic" and "War-Related" subject headings. The subject of World War One is also included in the Cinema, Theatre and Jim Liversidge collections in the University of Florida Popular Culture Collections. Please contact the curator for more detailed information. The Library of Congress also has a GUIDE TO HISTORIC SHEET MUSIC 1850-1920.

A Guide to the Bernard S. Parker World War I Sheet Music Collection
Finding aid created by Jim Liversidge
August 2014
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America