Winter Songs from the Library of Congress

Cover image from sheet music, Winter

Winter, 1910

As the days of December grow shorter and darker in the northern hemisphere, we often lift our spirits – as people have been doing for centuries – with song. Songs can bring people together, preserve traditions, and reflect and capture the pulse of events.

The Library of Congress collects and preserves music that is vitally important to our history and our culture, including song sheets, sheet music, and audio recordings. These rich collections of historical music can help your students make connections to the past. Try these tips to find pre-1923 music in the Library’s collections to enrich your curriculum or include in choral performances.

Finding holiday songs:

To find sheet music and recordings, go to The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America. Search with keywords such as “snow,” “sleigh,” “auld lang syne” or the name of a winter holiday or tradition. A sample search on the keyword “winter” yielded 276 results, including the 1910 sheet music, Winter. (Tip: To narrow results to sound recordings only, select “audio recordings” under “Refine your search”,  or repeat your search in the National Jukebox.)

Ideas for the classroom:

Jingle Bells

Jingle Bells

As teachers, we know that music is important for the healthy development of growing children as well as for its musical, historical and cultural value. How might you collaborate with a colleague to teach and learn with holiday songs?

Primary Sources in the Science Classroom: Signals from Mars? Venus?

Tesla, Guglielmo Marconi, and Thomas Edison were among the respected scientists who believed one of our neighbors was trying to contact us. A news article “Hello, Earth! Hello!” published on March 18, 1920, details the history of signals, possibly electromagnetic, picked up by Marconi and verified by scientists around the world, including Edison and Tesla. All three agreed the signals were deliberately sent from another planet. Based on the information they had, this was a realistic inference.

Exploring the Legacy of Magna Carta with Students through Historic Images

The medieval English charter known as Magna Carta was intended as a local political document, created to make peace between England’s King John and his barons in the early thirteenth century. However, it carried within it powerful ideas about the limits of government and the importance of individual liberty, and its influence has spread across the centuries and around the globe.

Native American Cultures Today: Primary Sources Documenting Music, Law, and Everyday Life

Native American cultures are alive and well today, thriving and evolving within cities, rural communities, tribes, and nations across the United States. The online collections of the Library of Congress contain a variety of primary sources that document daily life and creative works in diverse Native American communities from the late twentieth century to the present day.

Frederick Douglass: Activist and Autobiographer

Last November, we published a post addressing the controversies associated with Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. A recent comment pointed out that Huck’s views on slavery are those of the dominant society of the time. Because the post featured a letter from Frederick Douglass as a supplement to the novel, the commenter wondered “why not present the experiences and views of the oppressed rather than the oppressor?” That struck me as an intriguing question, so here are a few places to start exploring those views and experiences with your students.

See You at NCTE: Resources for English Teachers from the Library of Congress

This year’s NCTE conference: Story as the Landscape of Knowing will take place November 20-23 in our hometown, Washington, DC. You will find us at Booth numbers 236 and 238 in the exhibit hall Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The Teachers Page from the Library of Congress offers ideas and resources for English educators. We have rounded up a few of our favorites.

Tangible and Intangible Legacies

As our fourth and final blog post this fall related to the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, it seems appropriate that its theme focus on the concept of legacy. What a singer-songwriter leaves behind, from recordings, to manuscripts, to lyrics, can be thought of as their tangible legacies. The impact of his or her work, the connections listeners and concert goers make to the music, and the emotions the music inspires–these are some of the intangible legacies.