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.
Special Collections material may be used within the Music Library. Many items are available upon request during regular business hours. However, fragile material, unusual formats, or unprocessed collections often require staff time for preparation. Visiting researchers, in particular, are urged to make an appointment in advance. Material can be viewed Monday – Friday, 9 am to 4:30 pm. Please write or call (608) 263-1884 with questions on accessing material or requesting copies.
Extent: approximately 975 linear feet (approximately 90,000 discs)
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 (.xlsx; updated April 29, 2019).
keywords: record labels ; sound recordings ; 19th century ; 20th century
Extent: 6 linear feet
The American Sacred Music Collection includes about 500 American imprints dating from 1786 to the early 20th century. Included are works of Isaiah Thomas, Thomas Hastings, Lowell Mason, William Bradbury, Joshua Leavitt, Ira Sankey, and others.
Some volumes from this collection are available online.
keywords : sheet music ; scores ; hymns ; hymnals ; English ; 18th century ; 19th century ; 20th century
Extent: 63 linear feet
The Americana Sheet Music Collection contains some 7,000 songs published in 19th-century America. Principally music from the popular tradition, although that distinction is blurred until ca. 1865. Midwest publishers are well represented, as is music by women composers.
keywords: 19th century ; women composers ; United States ; popular music ; songs ; piano music ; songs with piano
Extent: 9 linear feet
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.
keywords: folk music ; folk dance music ; fiddle music ; old time music ; sound recordings ; folk musicians ; fiddlers ; radio shows
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.
The collection contains approximately 6,000 recordings in LP, CD, 78-rpm, and audiocassette 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)
keywords: sound recordings ; horn music
Extent: 15 linear feet
Marc Blitzstein (1905-1970) 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)
keywords: composers ; lyricists ; librettists ; musical theater
Extent: 2 linear feet
Items from Bruce Bollerud’s personal collection of materials relating to his work with the Goose Island Ramblers.
The collection includes sheet music, music manuscripts, published folios, posters, set lists, journals, clippings and approximately 100 sound recordings, mostly audio cassettes.
Extent: 12 linear feet
The collection contains approximately 450 songs published in England between the late-19th and early-20th centuries.
keywords: sheet music ; scores ; songs ; Great Britain ; piano music ; songs with piano
Extent: 1.5 linear feet
The collection contains approximately 15 songs published in Canada in the late 19th century.
keywords: sheet music ; scores ; piano music ; songs with piano
Extent: 3 linear feet (2 archival boxes)
A collection 61 reel-to-reel tapes and 1 audio cassette of music featuring trombone.
Extent: 20 linear feet
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.
keywords: conductors ; United States
Extent: 4.5 linear feet
A collection of notebooks, pamphlets, programs, and dance instructional materials from various donors in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
keywords: folk dance ; folk dancing ; dance instruction
Extent: 1.5 linear feet
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.
keywords: composers ; Argentina ; scores
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.
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.
Extent: 108 linear feet
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.
keywords: manuscripts ; parts ; arrangers ; arrangements ; popular music ; radio programs ; television shows
Extent: 3 linear feet (6 flat archival boxes)
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.
keywords: composers ; Austria ; pianists ; correspondence ; piano music
Extent: approximately 60 linear feet
In 2010, Sherry Mayrent generously donated the Mayrent Collection of Yiddish Recordings, her entire collection of Yiddish 78s and cylinders, to the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s General Library System. Ms. Mayrent collected over 9,000 discs and 11 cylinders produced between 1900 and 1953 in the United States, the Soviet Union, Israel, Argentina, Uruguay, and elsewhere.
The collection includes Yiddish theater music, liturgical music, klezmer bands and orchestras, humorous monologues and dialogues, folk songs, popular songs, and readings by authors. The performers range from the famous — Sophie Tucker, Molly Picon, Sholom Aleichem — to the obscure, such as the Russisch-Judische Orchestra.
These rescued 78-rpm records present a wealth of research possibilities in folklore, linguistics, humor, and ethnomusicology. The Mayrent Collection allows researchers to trace the cross-pollination of musical cultures, to examine social attitudes through lyrics of popular song, and to delve into the history of klezmer music, Yiddish theater, and American musical theater.
The collection is being processed in partnership with the Mayrent Institute for Yiddish Culture.
keywords: sound recordings ; Jewish ; vaudeville
Extent: 2 flat archival boxes
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.
Extent: approximately 11,000 LPs ; 25, 000 78s ; 8,500 45s
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.
Extent: .3 linear feet (1 archival box)
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.
Related materials: Ballads and songs of the shanty-boy.
Extent: approximately 110 78-rpm discs
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.
Extent: approximately 5,000 titles
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.
keywords: ethnic music ; folk music ; folk dance music ; Hindustani music ; Karnatic music ; South Asia ; motion picture music
Extent: approximately 1,100 titles
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.
keywords: ethnic music ; folk music ; folk dance music ; gamelan music ; Indonesia ; Southeast Asia ; Thai ; Phlippine ; Indonesian ; Malaysian
Extent: 1.5 linear feet (1 flat archival box)
The Alec Wilder Manuscript Collection 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.”
Related materials: John Barrows Collection
The Tams-Witmark/Wisconsin 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 promptbooks, but many titles 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.
Extent: 4 flat archival boxes
Over 300 individual songs published between 1897 and 1971 in Yiddish or Hebrew, almost entirely popular songs, and songs from musicals or motion pictures.
Extent: approximately 1,100 78s ; 500 audio cassettes
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.
keywords: Polish-Americans ; 1970s ; 1980s ; polka ; ethnic music ; dance music ; sound recordings ; cassettes ; radio programs ; live sound recordings