Sheet Music: A Window on 19th-Century California
Summary: funded through California State Library, Library Services and Construction Act, Fiscal Year 1996/1997, 1997-1998; Library Services and Technology Act, Fiscal Year 1999/2000. Funded in Summer 1998 by HUD's Joint Community Development Program, administered through the Institute of Urban and Regional Development at the University of California at Berkeley. Funded after 2000 by the research funding of Prof. Duggan.

Sheet music publishing began in the new state of California in 1852 and was from its beginnings a pictorial, textual, and musical record of the multicultural, multilingual world community that poured into the state and its principal city, San Francisco. A society of Native Americans and Spanish speakers was radically and quickly transformed by floods of immigrants from Europe, eastern states, and China. The music of the theater tells its own story in an era of a piano in every parlor and editions of tens of thousands. Until the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, publishing was a regional business, with San Francisco titles sold as properties for joint publication on the East coast and in London. After 1870 eastern publishers came to dominate the theatrical and publishing scenes, though the California multicultural community continued to produce works of unique character that became hits in the east, with a variety of co-publishing associations that reached to Hawaii, Australia, and Europe. The factors that make California a different culture and society can be traced in the musical record of life in the instant city of the West. An understanding of that culture is as important to the understanding of America as is the better-known history of the culture of eastern cities such as Boston and New York.

A window on the scene is proposed through a multimedia World Wide Web presentation of printed sheet music to 1900 (estimated extant corpus of 2,700 items from 11 libraries), enriched by ancillary images, original text, and manuscript material on theaters, composers and performers, cover artists, and publishers and printers. Preliminary research and indexing revealed a fragile repertoire, with low priority for cataloging, hidden in boxes and vaults and distributed in often unique copies among several libraries. Full text scanning for the first time brings together high quality color images of the entire corpus in a web environment that encourages browsing and comparison and allows printing for study and performance of a corpus free of copyright restraints. Full MARC cataloging (through existing catalogue systems available in the University of California, Berkeley, Library, either on-site or from digitized images) allows searching by the myriad names associated with the music as well as subject headings for both music and images enriched for coverage of California culture. Each library's MARC records have been forwarded to local catalogues and OCLC's WorldCat for international access. Unlike web sheet music sites with abbreviated records, little subject access, and images only of covers (Johns Hopkins Univ., The Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection or Duke University, Special Collections Library), Cheshire II will allow web searching on all fields with links for display of images of covers and music, theaters and performers. Prof. Ray Larson's Cheshire II SGML/MARC software and search system brings state-of-the-art access to the web, easy and free to users. The Univ. of Calif., Berkeley, Museum Informatics Project guarantees permanent web access and format maintenance as well as the storage of archival TIFF images.

Equipment used for the project in 1997 included a tabloid-size scanner, large enough for sheet music, and 9 gigabytes of external disk storage for scanning of images at library locations and weekly transfer to the UCB campus UNIX web server. Personnel include Principal Investigator Duggan, who has been researching and writing about the topic since 1980; Bibliographic Consultant Elizabeth Rebman, who is an experienced music cataloger and teacher of the subject; Music Cataloger Steve Rapasky, who completed the LSCA sheet music projects; Music Cataloger Julian Woodruff who completed the Society of California Pioneers project; and information professionals for programming and scanning. Rebman and Rapasky developed a cataloging model, incorporating the March 1996 publication Sheet Music Cataloging Guidelines (Music Lib. Assoc.), with feedback from participating libraries.

The Library of Congress Thesaurus for Graphics Materials provides subject vocabulary for image retrieval. The project was jointly submitted to both the state of California and NEH at the suggestion of 1994 NEH reviewers. NEH funding (May 1, 1997-April 30, 1998) would have extended the project to include a UNIX workstation and MIDI keyboard and box and personnel to allow encoding of music in Score software for search of notation on screen or keyboard and sound presentation through Score reader/player software available free on the Web site for downloading by patrons. It is anticipated that further grant proposals will be submitted to add sound and web development to the site.

Evaluation: User statistics on the web site reveal use in countries on all continents, with major use by the edu domain. The site's link for e-mail comments has brought feedback from individuals interested in education, commerce, geneology, performance, and scholarship. A brochure on the project has been distributed at the local, state and national levels.