Old Pops Digital Collection

As we wind down 2021 and the Year of Chicago Music comes to a close, how better to celebrate and remember it than with a new digital collection of Chicago songs?

The Old Pops Sheet Music Digital Collection contains 37 works of pre-1930s sheet music, pulled from the Chicago Public Library Old Pops & Piano Music Single Sheets collection. This sheet music, once commonly referred to as "parlor music," features not only music and lyrics, but also attractive (and often colorful) cover illustrations.

Covers once served as a means of advertising a song's story and lyrics, especially in the era before the phonograph and radio were invented. Tunes like "The Chicago Glide," "I'm From Chicago," "The Chicago Express" and "Lincoln Park, A Solo and Chorus" join other songs that celebrate both every day and historic events in Chicago, like the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.

You can visit CPL's digital collections anytime. Download a selection, prop your tablet on your music stand and make your own parlor music. Or, for a deeper dive into the full collection of 28,000 scores and single sheets published from 1809 to 2004, visit the Art & Music Department of the 8th floor at CPL's Harold Washington Library Center.