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Celebrating National Piano Month

Sheet music tells a story whether it is hand-written on vellum or printed in the modern age.  The University of Dayton Libraries has several special collections containing sheet music for piano and organ.  A variety of types of music are represented in the collection, including vaudeville, patriotic, musicals and more.

While the lyrics were representative of the dreams and aspirations or the political feelings of the time, the design of covers also reflected changes in American culture and values. During the early part of the twentieth century, sheet music covers became more colorful, designed to catch the eye and increase sales.

Some of the collections in our archive:

  • The Robert C. Mellin Collection contains more than 10,000 pieces of sheet music of popular melodic songs and spans nearly the entire 20th century.
  • George Zimmerman, former professor of music at UD, donated more than 1200 pieces of rare American sheet music to the university. Housed in the University Archives Rare Book room, Zimmerman’s music titles can be found in the university libraries catalog.
  • Sheet music is also represented in the Urban Deger Collection. Deger was a piano and organ teacher in the music department at St. Mary’s College and the University of Dayton.  Deger was also an accompanist for the Inland Chorus, a program for the children of General Motor’s Inland Division.

Located on the second floor of Albert Emanuel Hall, University Archives and Special Collections is open to Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. Researchers may use materials in the reading room.

For research inquiries and to schedule a visit, as well as inquiring about donations or transferring of University records, contact Jennifer Brancato, University Archivist and Coordinator of Special Collections, at 937-229-4267 or

- Kristina Klepacz, Assistant University Archivist

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