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Joseph Philbrick Webster Papers

(c. 1840s–1874)

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2 archival flat boxes (.6 linear feet)

Webster, a composer and performer of popular music, was born in Manchester, New Hampshire in 1819. He studied with Lowell Mason and was active musically in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. In 1851 he moved to Madison, Indiana followed by Chicago (1855), Racine, Wisconsin (1856), and finally Elkhorn, Wisconsin (1859), where he died in 1874. His most notable compositions are “Lorena” and the “Sweet By and By.”

For a detailed biographical study of Webster, see: Appelstein, Aaron. Joseph Philbrick Webster: Nineteenth-Century American Songwriter. Master’s Thesis, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1975. The library’s call number for this item is AWO A6466 A376.

The collection includes 39 autograph manuscript songs; several handwritten and typed lists of compositions; 1 draft letter; dance and other instrumental music (it is unknown whether Webster and/or others composed this music); miscellaneous compositions; reasonably complete pieces or sections, some attributed to other composers; five small bound volumes including exercises, a volume of sacred music with Latin texts, and partbooks for dance (?) music; unidentified manuscripts, including sketches and parts.

It is unknown when the papers were acquired by the Mills Music Library. Additional papers are located in the Wisconsin Historical Society.

See also the Webster Image Gallery at the Wisconsin Electronic Reader.

Inventory

Box 1

  • Folder 1: Manuscript songs
  • Folder 2: Lists of compositions; 1 draft letter.
  • Folder 3: Dance and other instrumental music
  • Folder 4: Miscellaneous compositions

Box 2

  • Folder 1: Ave Maria manuscripts
  • Folder 2: Bound volumes
  • Folder 3: Unidentified manuscripts

Items deleted from the collection

  • Five published songs not composed by Webster:
    • Remembered name / words by Mrs. Norton
    • La Straniera de Bellini / by Ferd Beyer
    • Angel May / music by J. M. Hubbard
    • Daisy Deane / words and music by Winthrop and Murray
    • Canzonetta for violin / by A. d’Ambrosio
  • A single issue (May 1893) of the National Home and Music Journal.
  • Approximately 50 published songs by Webster, moved to the Wisconsin Sheet Music Database

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Last update on 23 December 2010
Wisconsin Music Archives.  Phone: 608-263-1884, Email: askmusic@library.wisc.edu, Fax: 608-265-2754, Address: Mills Music Library, University of Wisconsin--Madison, B162 Memorial Library, 728 State Street, Madison, WI 53706-1494