Western Americana and Music

In 1843, lithographer Napoleon Sarony (1821-1896) left the studio of Nathaniel Currier (1813-1888) to establish his own printing firm in New York City. From 1845 to 1857, he formed a partnership with Henry B. Major and together they found success printing and publishing fine art prints, maps, sheet music and much more. While the graphic arts collection does not hold the complete music sheets, we do have a collection of the lithographed covers to sheet music with Western American themes.

One is the Fort Harrison March, composed by Carl Heinrich Weber (1819-1892) and published by Balmer & Weber in St. Louis in 1848. The tinted lithograph with additional hand coloring depicts a scene from the 1812 battle of Fort Harrison. In preparation for an attach on Native Americans in Vigo County, Indiana, General William Henry Harrison ordered construction of a fort to protect the treaty line with Indian Territory. Later, when Indian forces attached Fort Harrison, Captain Zachary Taylor held them off until reinforcements arrived. History books list the battle of Fort Harrison as the first land victory of the United States during the War of 1812.

Also shown here is the lithographed cover for Death of Minnehaha composed by Charles Crozat Converse (1832-1918), with words from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “New Poem, Hiawatha” and published by Oliver Ditson & Company in Boston around 1856. The hand colored lithograph is by John Henry Bufford (1810-1870).