LU News Archive

facebook twitter Linkedin Email

AMERICA GOES TO WAR: Sheet Music of World War I featured in display

Sheet musicLamar University’s Special Collections is exhibiting a new display, “America Goes to War: Sheet Music Cover Art of the First World War,” from Wednesday, November 1 through Monday, January 15, 2018 on the first floor of the Mary and John Gray Library. 

All of the music displayed is from the Jack Cook Collection. “Cook was a beloved member of the community who is remembered as a musician who played at many restaurants,” said Penny Clark, university archivist. “Cook was so talented he could simultaneously play both the piano and organ.” While the war broke out in Europe in 1914, America did not get involved in the war until 1917 and the music reflects this, dating from 1917 until just after the war ended in 1918.

Not surprisingly for documents that are a century old, some of the sheet music is a bit tattered or bent. Others bear the name of a previous owner, including Augusta Furchner, a Port Arthur stenographer as well as a lover of music.

Jack Cook“The collection reveals the unabashed patriotism and sentimentality of the times,” Clark said. “Women were characterized as wives, mothers, and daughters devastated by sending their loved ones off to war. They were advised, ‘When Uncle Sam calls out your man, Don’t sigh, And cry, because you know he cert’nly can’t refuse. To hold him back might make him ‘slack’.”

Sheet musicThe sheet music reveals relationships between Americans and French from “When Yankee Doodle Learns to Parlez Vous Francais,” which shows naïve Americans learning about an exotic foreign country to Private Alexander and his dance band introducing the French to America’s jazz music and dance. The collection even includes, “Little French Mother, Good Bye,” in which an American soldier is returning to the United States leaving behind an older French woman who considered him a son.

The arrival of the troops back from Europe was shown with crowds showering them with long-stemmed roses, men doffing their hats, sweethearts waiting with outstretched arms, Clark said.

For more information, please contact Penny Clark at (409) 880-7787, or Charlotte Holliman at (409) 880-8660,