Kingwood College Library

A Chronological Subject Guide To


1900 to 1950

This American Popular Music from 1900 to 1950 Subject Guide , arranged chronologically, is intended as an overview of American history through its music. Music reflects the times, describing events and emotions. In many ways music gives us a more accurate picture of people and events than any other medium..

Music from 1900 - 1949
Turn of the Century Blues Jazz World War I
Musicals & Theater Big Band / Swing World War II Cgreenits / Local Links

After you have used this guide consider using Metacrawler, a search engine that uses your keywords to search 10-12 search engines in one swoop, for more music information. Metacrawler is very effective for quick searching.


Country Music Awards
Great site for country music trivia buffs. It contains awards and nominees; history; trivia, etc. from the 1967 show until the present.
Dove Awards, Gospel Music
Established by the Gospel Music Association.
Grammy Awards, Nominations by area
Yahoo's 38th Grammy Awards site, arranged by musical category.
MTV Music Awards
Current year winners plus links to other music and entertainment sites.
International Bluegrass Music Awards
Contains links to International Bluegrass Music Association membership info., regional reps, trade shows, current press releases, and two internet journals.
Tony Awards
Contains an excellent database of musical theater awards and information dating back to 1947.
Tejano Music Awards
Since 1980, Texas Talent Musicians Association (TTMA) has produced this annual event that showcases established and emerging talent from within the industry. Produced each year in San Antonio.

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 Digital Lyrics
Great list of lyrics.  Alphabetical listing.
International Lyrics Server
Search database by artist, album title or song.
 Froggies Novelty Song Lyrics
Collection of the lyrics of the greatest novelty songs enjoying popularity in the
United States of America during the first third of the twentieth century as transcribed from period phonograph recordings.
Digital Tradition:
Look up song lyrics of all periods of history by topic or by era, i.e. War of 1812. (6000+ songs.)
Songs from 1900-1930
Music for the guitar, lyrics, and sound for the early century. Great fun!
Song Files
Terrific collection of lyrics and midis arranged alphabetically - year listed.  Thanks, Mr. Banjo.
CISV Songbook
Contains a database of 155 popular and children's songs.
Lyrics from Disney Songs   or    Disney Song Lyrics
The lyrics at this site are from fans from CD liners, songbooks, or from listening to the songs. Both sites are fine for lyrics.  The first is more Disney World or Land - the second arranged by movies.

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American Pop Music from 1900-1949 The turn of the century arrives and there are 45 states. Popular songs include When the Red, Red, Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbing Along ,   I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now ,and In the Good Old Summertime. Vaudeville is still swinging.  Engineer John Luther Casey Jones was killed when his Cannonball Express collides with the rear of a freight train. The term "Tin Pan Alley" is coined to represent the cluster of song publishers located on 28th Street between Sixth Ave and Broadway in NYC. This is a period of excitement for the American music scene; plays on Broadway, motion pictures, gramophones, animated cartoons are developed. George M. Cohan, Florenz Ziegfeld, and Irving Berlin are on the scene. 1910 marks the beginning of ballroom dancing.

As the twentieth century approached music was lively. Enrico Caruso made records (not cylinders), Broadway was in full swing with musicals of Peter Pan and The Wizard of Oz. Songs of importance included Give My Regards to Broadway and Meet me in St. Louis (written for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. The Boy Scouts and Camp Fire Girls were founded in 1910. Prohibition [Volstead Act, 1919] made speakeasies the place to be.

         Song Lyrics of the early 20th Century
        Song files, sing-along, play-along or download.  1900 - 1920s.
Tenorland - Enrico Caruso
Biographical essay and links to sound clips, art, and other information about this famous tenor.
History of Ball Room Dancing
An essay on the history of this topic. Photos included.
Boy Scout Songs
The lyrics of boy scout and other songs.

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This genre created by African Americans is one of the few new art forms of modern times. Developed at the turn of the century, ex-slaves sang work songs filled with irony, imagery, and love - relief from the tensions of their lives. Many blues singers were recorded by talent scouts as they sang in the fields. While the blues is played all over the country today, it was of southern origin. Bessie Smith, the greatest of all blues singers, is called the "Empress of the Blues". She recorded in the 20s.

Blues Online
Links to biographical, photos, discographies, and other information of the blues greats. This is a really wonderful site to get lost in.
Music in Harlem in the 1920's and 30's is considered the soul of black music. Short essays here on this topic.
That Blues Music Page
Great page with information on regional blues bands, blues clubs, organizations, and societies, festivals, radio stations, video, photographs. Chicago blues scene from 1940s to the 1960s.
Good links to Blues Magazines and books, also regional blues sites, such as Memphis, St. Louis and Chicago.
Delta Snake Blues News
Excellent on-line blues zine
King Biscuit Time
Blues Page with artist write-ups (with sound files), history, essays on blues women, country blues, Chicago blues, San Francisco Bay Area blues, and more.
 Cascade Blues Association
Particularly interesting legend gallery.

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This native American art form was originated in 1900 by black musicians, chiefly in New Orleans. Jazz spread throughout the entire world and remains the root of 20th century music. The Penguin Encyclopedia of Modern Music states that great black jazzmen did not get the recognition or the money they deserved because of racism, but jazz was never suppressed commercially. Early greats include Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, and later Duke Ellington began to invent jazz composition for the big bands.
Institute of Jazz Studies
Housed at Rutgers University in Newark, NJ. Stores an extensive audio music library.
WNUR-FM Jazz Web at Northwestern University
Authoritative educational site which contains biographical information, news on jazz music education, jazz festivals, etc...

 Jazz Roots
Absolutely great site on jazz roots, timelines, pictures, a mystery to solve, and netcast.  Wonderful images - copyrighted.
The JazzNet
A good site for information on the international jazz scene.
A Miles Davis Site
Contains everything you've every wanted to know about Miles Davis.
The BioJazz Network
A site for jazz artists to create their own web pages -- info. directly from the musicians.
American Music Center Home Page
This site contains links to artists' member pages. The American Jazz Symposium home page is also here and it has good biographical information on many contemporary jazz artists.

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World War I

T he music of the times was reflected in the popular songs sung during the First World War (1913 - 1917). Americans changed words so they would not reflect the German language, i.e. frankfurters became hotdogs. Songs of this period included  If Your Were the Only Girl in the World,  How ya Gonna Keep 'em Down on the Farm (After They've Seen Paree), Keep the Home Fires Burning, and Hinky Dinky Parlay Voo . Wartime humorous songs were sang, too, Would you Rather Be a Colonel with an Eagle on Your Shoulder or a Private with a Chicken on Your Knee?  A favorite, I'm Always Chasing Rainbows,  , was popular right after the war.

Irving Berlin Page
Biographical information, links to other pages about Berlin. Lyrics for
Yankee Doodle Dandy, George M. Cohen
Poster from the movies, song and musical written in

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Musicals and Theater

F irst Vaudeville and Burlesque onto the Broadway Musical, music played a major part on the stage during this time. This music continued before and after the First World War. A favorite musical, Showboat, included Ol' Man River. An early Gershwin musical, Porgy and Bess, was first performed in 1935 in the Alvin Theater in New York Rudy Vallee was a singing star in early talkies.

Precious Nonsense
The newsletter of the Gilbert and Sullivan Society.
Roots of Theatrical Jazz Dance
An essay on jazz at the turn of the century, from minstrelry forward.
 Vaudeville Memories
A great link leading you to other Vaudeville sites, performers of the Vaudeville stage, and trivia and information.
Burlesque and Vaudeville
A brief essay about the musical theatre at the turn of the century.
Ziegfeld and the Roaring Twenties
From the Floradora girls to Jolson, 60 second audio clips, photos and annotations.
The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive
Background history and a complete index to all of the operas, plays, and choral works included in the Gilbert and Sullivan Archive. Includes icons identifying plot summaries, librettos, clip art, midi files, and Web Operas. Many of their operettas were written before the turn of the century, but this great site is worth a look - especially since their work is still popular today.
Goodspeed Opera House Foundation
Based in East Haddam CT; has an extensive musical theater research library and also publishes Show Music Magazine.
Yahoo! - Arts:Performing Arts:Musicals
Contains links to sites containing information on the shows, lyrics, songwriters, etc.. of the performing arts musical.
Yahoo! - Entertainment/Movies_and_Film/Title/Musicals
Contains links to sites containing information on the shows, lyrics, songwriters, etc.. of the movie musical.

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Big Band/Swing

Big bands were HUGE from 1935 - 1947. While not considered  'jazz', the bands often used jazz arrangements and their soloists played 'hot' arrangements. Glen Miller, Benny Goodman,, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey,Artie Shaw, and others led the hit parade. Many singers ( Doris Day, Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Rosemary Cloony) got their start singing with the big bands.

Selected Influential Musician Biographies from 1919-1939.
Contains extensive biographies of Big band leaders such as Paul Whiteman, Benny Goodman, and Duke Ellington. Also contains a informative essay on George Gershwin.
The Original Bigbands Database
Excellent site for information on Big bands in America and Europe. Also contains information on little known artists and musicians.
Rude Interlude, a Duke Ellington home page
Maintained by a fan, but also meant for more serious scholars. This is an excellent site for list of Ellington links.
The Edward Kennedy (Duke) Ellington Pages
Very thorough source of Ellingtonia.
Glenn Miller Festival Page
Information on the 22nd annual festival held in Iowa.

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World War II

The music of the forties reflected the feeling of a nation at war. The New York Times cost two cents per copy and a gallon of gasoline was seventeen cents. Pro-War songs included We Did It Before and We Can Do It Again and Kiss the Boys Goodbye. I'll be Seeing You, sung by Bing Crosby and Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy by the Andrews Sisters [not Bette Midler :-)] were popular. Popular performers of the time included Glenn Miller, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, and the Mills Brothers. God Bless America written by Irving Berlin in 1917 was first performed by Kate Smith in 1938.

 Media History Timeline of the 1940s

Pretty nice time line of what was happening 'media wise' during this decade. Visit other decades.
Bing Crosby Home Page
Lyrics, history, biography, television, reviews of his work. Great site!
The Frank Sinatra Song Index
This site contains lyrics for over 350 songs recorded by Frank Sinatra. Visit the home page and see albums, pictures, biographical information and more.
The Andrews Sisters
Music, photos, biographical information about the Andrews Sisters.

 In 1949, RCA produced the 7 inch 45 r.p.m. disk with the large center hole and pretty much ends the reign of the 78 r.p.m. Country and Western enters the top ten for the first time with Slippin' Around sun by Margaret Whiting and Jimmy Wakely. Doris Day makes her film debut and Martin and Lewis appear on the scene. Visit our page to Music of the 1950s Through the Present - online in a state of construction.

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Two books used in the writing of this page are:

The Great Song Thesaurus by Roger Lax and Fgreenerick Smith
The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music edited by Donald Clarke.

Page by

American Music to 1900
American Music from 1950 - Present
American Cultural History by Decades

Kingwood College Library | Subject Guides  |  Argus Subject Guides (see this guide and others there.)   |

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Paged revised and links checked 9/99