Special Collections

archival boxes on shelves
Tams-Witmark Collection boxes

Mills Music Library holds over 250,000 items in its numerous Special Collections.  Subjects include music of the early stage, vernacular music of the Midwest, early American printed music, and music for the horn. A wide variety of formats are held, such as music manuscripts, scores, sheet music, field notes, 78 rpm discs, vinyl LPs, and audiocassettes.

For additional collections material, check the Wisconsin Music Archives list, the Library Catalog, and the databases within our Mills Music Library Digital Collections. Many additional collections are not yet processed, so please consult a staff member for assistance.

To use Special Collections materials, contact us via email with questions or to request copies.

78-rpm Sound Recordings Collection

The Music Library’s main holdings of 78-rpm recordings contains over 58,000 unique titles issued between 1894 and 1958, ranging in size from 5 ¼-inch to 14-inch in diameter. Dozens of languages and musical styles are represented. Prominent labels include Columbia, Capitol, Brunswick, Okeh, Victor, Mercury, Vocalion, and Edison. Wisconsin labels include Paramount, Pfau, Polkaland, Tell and many others.

Download a Shelf List of the collection (Shelf List; updated October 20, 2021).

Americana Sheet Music Collection

The Americana Sheet Music Collection contains some 7,000 songs published in 19th-century America. The collection principally contains music from the popular tradition, although that distinction is a blurry one until ca. 1865. Midwest publishers are well represented, as is music by women composers.

Robert Andresen Collection

The Robert Andresen Collection includes thousands of recordings and song folios that highlight ethnic music in the Upper Midwest. Robert Andresen (1937–1995) was an avid collector of traditional recordings, a recorder of old-time musicians, and the host of the Northland Hoedown radio show that aired over KUMD-FM, Duluth, Minnesota.

Related items: Robert Andresen Collection, 1976-1994 finding aid ; Commercial LPs from the collection are in the Library Catalog

E. Robert E. Arnold Jazz Record Collection

The E. Robert Arnold Jazz Record Collection contains approximately 2,650 78s of jazz sound recordings, mainly from the 1930s and 1940s. The collection also includes a large number of 16″ test pressings and radio transcriptions and a small number of LPs, audiocassettes, and jazz magazines. The commercial 78s can be found in the 78-rpm Sound Recordings Collection.

Jim Berkenstadt Beatles LP Collection

513 LPs donated by James Berkenstadt, Dec. 2021.

Collection of vinyl LPs of Beatles albums, Beatles side projects, and solo works, including commercial, promotional, and bootleg underground releases. Release dates range from 1963 to 2019. Source audio material ranges in date from the Quarrymen’s first recordings at Phillips’ Sound Recording Services in Liverpool July 12, 1958, to Paul McCartney’s 2018 solo album Egypt Station. Recordings include studio outtakes, rehearsals, isolated overdubs, unreleased tracks, alternate mixes, live shows, demos, studio banter, press conferences, TV and radio appearances, film soundtracks (dialog, sounds and music), interviews, and home recordings.

Download an Inventory of the collection (Inventory; updated August 29, 2022).

Curtiss Blake Collection

The collection contains approximately 6,000 recordings in LP, CD, and 78-rpm formats featuring the French horn in solo and chamber music settings. Items are available through the Library Catalog.

Related items: A bibliography of music for the French horn / Curtiss Blake (ML128 H67 B55 1971, Mills Music Library)

Marc Blitzstein Collection

Marc Blitzstein (1905-1964) was a composer, lyricist and librettist whose output included works for concert works, opera, film scores, and the musical stage. The collection contains approximately 58 scores and books from his personal collection published between 1880 and 1961. Items described individually in Library Catalog.

Related collections: Marc Blitzstein Papers, 1918-1989 (Wisconsin Historical Society Archives)

Bruce Bollerud Collection

Bruce Bollerud (1934-2020), was a professional musician in the Madison, WI area from the 1960s-2000s. He played bandoneon, piano accordion, jug, and trombone with a number of local bands, notably the Goose Island Ramblers and the Good Time Band. Throughout his career, Bollerud amassed a collection of materials that document his professional activities as a musician as well as a special education teacher. Sound recordings include Goose Island Ramblers rehearsal tapes, performances, house parties, live concerts and radio appearances. Source material is from the Bruce Bollerud collection, 1919-2009 (bulk 1960-2009).

British Ballads Sheet Music Collection

The collection contains approximately 450 songs published in England between the late-19th and early-20th centuries.

Canadian Sheet Music Collection

The collection contains approximately 15 songs published in Canada in the late 19th century.

Edo de Waart Collection

The collection consists of ongoing donations begun in 2007 of published music scores and books from the Dutch conductor’s personal collection. Many of the scores include marks in the donor’s hand. Currently the collection amounts to about 175 scores, principally operas and symphonies.

Folk Dance Collection

A collection of notebooks, pamphlets, programs, and dance instructional materials from various donors in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Alberto Ginastera Collection

The collection consists of correspondence, manuscripts and photographs relating to Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983). The collection includes audiocassettes of performances (Don Rodrigo (1967) and Beatrix Cenci (1971)) and exhibit materials produced by Mills Music Library.

Marshall F. Granros Collection

Marshall Granros amassed a large collection of folk music during his time as host of the radio program “Kicking the dog around” on WLFM in Appleton, Wisconsin. The collection includes over 5,000 LPs, also audiocassettes, some 45s, and radio scripts. The LPs can be found in the Library Catalog.

Victor Greene Collection

The collection of polka and Polish-American popular music was compiled by Victor Greene (1934-2014) as primary source materials for his book, A passion for polka : old-time ethnic music in America. The collection includes approximately 1,800 78s, 20 LPs, and a photograph of the První Cesko-Americky Bando-Concertina Klub, Chicago (1893).

The collection’s print materials and LPs can be found in the Library Catalog ; the 78s are indexed in the 78-rpm Sound Recordings Collection.

Skitch Henderson Collection

The Skitch Henderson Collection consists of manuscript scores and parts, and sound recordings principally written or arranged by Skitch Henderson (1918-2005).

The collection consists of about eight hundred jazz and popular compositions arranged for studio recordings, and radio and television programs. The collection also includes nine transcription discs of performances by Henderson.

Hummel Collection

The Hummel Collection includes approximately 125 first and early editions of compositions by Austrian composer, pianist, and pedagogue Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778–1837) and letters from the composer to his publisher.

Mayrent Collection of Yiddish Recordings

The Mayrent Collection of Yiddish Recordings is unique in its comprehensive scale and scope. Over 9,000 recorded performances on 78-rpm discs and cylinders include Yiddish theater, popular and traditional music, cantorial songs, klezmer music, poetry, drama, and event ballads from locations as diverse as the United States, Eastern Europe, Latin America, South Africa, and Israel.

The contents offer an unparalleled audio entrée into the vibrant, fascinating cultural practices of early- mid 20th century Yiddish life.

Oahu Publishing Co. Collection

Sheet music, folios and method books published between 1916 and 1950 from the Oahu Publishing Co. of Cincinnati, Ohio. The sheets are principally popular songs arranged for ukulele, slide guitar and/or pedal steel guitar.

Ford Porter Collection

Ford Porter amassed an enormous collection of popular, dance, polka, country, and folk musics, many with strong regional ties to the Upper Midwest.

The LPs from this collection can be found in the Library Catalog ; the 78s are indexed in the 78-rpm Sound Recordings Collection.

Franz Rickaby Collection

The Franz Rickaby Collection is made up of transcribed songs collected by Franz Rickaby in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan. The types of songs include ballads, folk songs, sea chanteys, and songs about wars, tragedies, lumberjacks, Indians, cowboys, and frontier life.

A.C. Scott Asian 78s Collection

78-rpm sound recordings from China and Japan issued in the 1940s, principally Cantonese and Peking opera styles. Labels include Chinese and Japanese subsidiaries of Columbia, Victor, Odeon, Beka, and Pathé. Many discs include original printed insert. Accompanied by notes authored by the donor in Chinese.

South Asian Sound Recordings Collection

Contains music from India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan on audio cassettes. All genres of music are represented, with particular strengths in Indian film and popular music. The collection is fully cataloged and may be searched using the Library Catalog.

Southeast Asian Sound Recordings Collection

A collection of audio cassettes of popular and traditional Thai, Indonesian, Malaysian and Philippine music. The collection is fully cataloged and accessible through the Library Catalog.

Alec Wilder Manuscript Collection

The Alec Wilder Collection, 1950-1973 is a small collection of manuscript scores. Wilder (1907-1980) was a largely self-taught composer who wrote eclectic pop, jazz and classical music, principally for chamber ensembles. His hit songs include “I’ll be around,” “While we’re young,” and “Blackberry winter.” Inventory of the manuscripts in the collection.

Tams-Witmark Collection

The Tams-Witmark Collection comprises some 37,000 items, representing more than 1,600 titles from the musical stage in America from approximately 1800 to the 1920s. Materials are from the entire range of the musical stage tradition: grand opera, operetta, musical comedy and revue, minstrel show, and burlesque.

The collection is particularly strong in the areas of piano-vocal scores and prompt books, but many titles also include orchestral parts, full scores, choral parts, vocal parts, libretti, stage manager guides, and dialogue parts, as well as production materials such as scenery, lighting, and costume plots.

Scanned images from collection are added to the database on an ongoing basis; the materials are fully cataloged and may be searched in the Library Catalog.

Yiddish Sheet Music Collection

The Yiddish Sheet Music Collection contains over 300 individual songs published between 1897 and 1971 in Yiddish or Hebrew, almost entirely popular songs, and songs from musicals or motion pictures.

Zurawski Polish Music Collection

The Zurawski Polish Music Collection consists of Polish and Polish-American music recordings, mainly commercial 78s. The collection includes cassette recordings of live performances and transcriptions of radio broadcasts recorded by Greg Zurawski (1927–1994) in Wisconsin during the 1970s-80s.

An inventory of 78s is available here: Zurawski.