Popular Music of World War I: A Living Archive


In entering metadata in the two archives (Myers and Driscoll) certain conventions have been followed. These are explained below; the contents list that follows takes you down this page to the pertinent section.

Conventions that apply throughout

TR, BL, TC, etc., are abbreviations for “top right,” “bottom left,” “top center,” etc. The words “top,” “bottom,” and “center” are always written out, however.

Song titles appear in headline style, regardless of the capitalization used in the publication, except when capitalization is a distinguishing feature.

Page numbers are given as “p. 2,” “p. 3,” etc.; for multiple pages, as  “pp. 2, 4, 6,” etc.; for a page range, as “pp. 2-6”, etc. Pagination that doesn’t appear explicitly in the publication is given in square brackets: “p. [1],” “p. [6],” etc. The cover is treated as the first page numerically but identified as “cover”; thus the verso of the cover is “p. 2“ or ”p. [2].” [top]


There are often discrepancies between the title printed on the cover, the title that appears inside, at the head of the music, and the title phrase as it appears somewhere in the lyrics. In general, the cover and first page of music are compared; if the titles differ in punctuation or other details, the most grammatically correct has been chosen. When uncertainty remains, the lyric phrase has been considered. Commas have not been inserted unless they occur on the cover, the first page of music, or in the title line of the lyric. Differences in hyphenation for “today,” tomorrow,” and “goodbye” have been preserved. Subtitles are treated as part of the title if they are never in parentheses and they appear both on the cover and on the first page of music with equal prominence. Parenthesized subtitles are included in the title only if they are given equal typographic weight or, in a very few instances, to be consistent with contemporaneous reports of the song. Otherwise they appear among alternate titles. Generic subtitles (“Hymn,” “Waltz,” “Patriotic Song,” etc.) are treated as descriptors and do not form part of the title, though they will generally appear under Musical Note or Musical Genre. Sometimes an exception is made for the subtitle “March”: this is included in the title only if it is in the same font and size as the title on the cover or the first page; otherwise it is treated as a descriptor. For titles containing an initial phrase, such as “Good Bye and Luck Be with You, Laddie Boy”, the choice of primary title has been guided by size of typeface and by contemporaneous usage; in this instance, for example, the song was nearly always referred to as simply “Laddie Boy.” [top]

Alternative title

All variant forms are listed here, together with the location in which each appears. Virgules indicate line breaks. Significant variants in punctuation (for example, subtitles that appear both with and without parentheses) are listed separately; however, no notice is taken of variant commas or full stops. [top]

Composer and lyricist

Names are presented last name first, with full names (expanded from initials) or pseudonyms provided in square brackets after the name as printed. Multiple names are given in the order they appear on the publication. [top]


Entries take the form “<city>, <ST> : <publisher>”. The names of major publishers have been standardized; small firms or self-publications are entered exactly as they appear on the covers or in the copyright lines. When multiple cities are indicated, the choice among them has been guided by the copyright registration information; subsidiary locations are not noted. When a street address appears on the cover, it is presented as a separate subentry even if it runs continuously with the publisher’s name. [top]

Date of publication

This is the year given on the publication itself, usually at the bottom of the first page of music. Note that this may not be the same as the year that copyright was registered. [top]

Date – copyrighted

This is the date that copyright was registered, given as YYYY-MM-DD to facilitate searches; or, when appropriate, “No copyright registered.” Note that this is not necessarily the date on which actual copies of the music were received by the copyright office; that is usually a few days later, though in some cases it actually precedes the registration date. When the difference is significant, the deposit date is indicated and discussed under Historical Note. [top]


Nearly always this will be “musical notation”; the field is used primarily in integrating the archive, item by item, into larger repositories like WorldCat. [top]

Physical description

The pagination of front matter, music, and back matter is summarized using a standard cataloguing format, supplemented by a phrase indicating the performing forces. Size is not noted. [top]


Here is provided a brief summary of the title’s significance, reception, related works, and other pertinent contextual information. [top]

Historical note

Historical details and clarifications are provided here, generally in four subentries, as follows:

(a) Discrepancies or clarifications of any kind regarding the title and names (composer, performer, lyricist, publisher, artist, illustrator, printer).

(b) Clarifications concerning dedicatees, images, iconography, and textual or musical references.

(c) The overall publication history of the title, including the presumed earliest possible appearance of this particular imprint, as derived from the contents of the back cover, the performance history, or information in journals and newspapers. Different imprints of a single title are distinguished using four tiers: editions, printings, variants, and versions.

“Editions” distinguish between successive versions of a single title that manifest substantive changes in text, music, engraving, or publisher. Changes in engraving include, for instance, compressing three or four pages of music into two, even if the original plates were reconfigured to accomplish that. Changes of size (from large to small) are not distinguished as new editions unless they are specifically marketed as such (for instance, by including “War Edition” or something similar on the cover).

“Printings” distinguish between successive versions of a single title that are not “editions” but that have significantly different front or back covers. Front covers that vary only in photographic inserts (usually of performers) do not constitute separate printings unless the back covers have changed, nor do front covers that differ only in their colors. The copyright deposit copy, when available, is assumed to be the first printing. For subsequent back covers, printings are ordered first by copyright dates of music advertised, if that can be determined, with the earliest copyright assumed to be the earliest printing; if not, they are ordered by information from trade journals or newspapers, if that is available; if not, they are ordered alphabetically by the compositions listed. “Printings” also distinguish items that differ in informative details—for example, the inclusion (or not) of a printer’s imprint.

“Variants” distinguish between versions of a title that contain only minor variants in covers or in the marginal matter on interior pages and that do not, in themselves, constitute publication information sufficient to provide a date of release. Variants most commonly distinguish between different inset photographs on front covers or different wartime slogans inserted in interior pages. In some cases (for example, “America, I Love You”), “printings” distinguish sets of publications that have the same front cover, with “variants” used to distinguish between different back covers within a single printing.

 “Versions” distinguish between simultaneous publications of a single title that are identical except for performing forces (with lyrics added when needed). Thus “versions” for voice and piano are distinguished from “versions” for piano alone when both appear at the same time and with the same copyright date, attributions and covers. “Versions” also distinguish between publications of the same title in different keys (high and low “versions” of a single song, for instance). Unless there is evidence to the contrary, the publication date is assumed to be the same for all versions.

(d) A brief summary of the performance history and any recordings or piano rolls that were issued. [top]

Musical note

Here are summarized the style and technical features of the music, all musical quotations that have been identified, and discusses any uncertainties that arise concerning the notation. [top]


Dedicatees are noted exactly as they appear, preceded by their location(s). Information about the dedicatees, when known, is entered under Historical Note. [top]

Subject – topic and Subject – geographic

These contain conventional subject headings as set out on the LC authorities webpages. No effort is made to be exhaustive, but when existing catalog records contain an appropriate set of subjects, these have been incorporated. [top]


The text is presented exactly as printed, including punctuation, misspellings, and errors. The latter are not identified with “sic”; any real confusions are discussed under Historical Note. Each verse or refrain is a separate subentry, preceded by a bracketed identifier: “[verse 1],” “[refrain 1],” and so forth. Refrains that repeat exactly are noted only with the identifier. Within each subentry, virgules indicate line breaks; the length of a line is determined primarily by rhyme and meter, with consideration also given to the placement of upper-case letters. [top]

Musical genre

This contains a short word or phrase characterizing the musical style or genre. Contemporaneous phrases such as “semi-high-class ballad” are used when appropriate; for more information on these, see E. M. Wickes, Writing the Popular Song (1916), digitized and freely available on HathiTrust and Internet Archive. [top]

Repository and Conditions of Use

The institutions that house the two collections (Myers and Driscoll) have slightly different policies about the use of digitized archival material, presented here. [top]


Here appear the names of persons or studios that created images or art that was incorporated into the cover, including photographs when they can be attributed. This field is left empty if all the artwork was created by the cover artist or designer, who is listed separately. Names are presented as for composers and lyricists. [top]


Here appear the names of persons or studios that designed the cover or back cover. These are usually identified by signatures or icons on the images itself, but in some cases attribution is made on the basis of historical information or stylistic features. Names are presented as for composers and lyricists. [top]


Printers’ signatures or icons are noted exactly as they appear, together with their location. Iconographic and typographic details are noted only when they have historical implications. [top]

Cover description

A single extended description of the cover art and design, incorporating especially any iconography associated with the war, is followed by a brief summary of the color, printing process, and signature. Covers can be assumed to be produced lithographically unless otherwise noted. Note that different colors are not distinguished as separate printings or editions. Subentries contain cover text(s) other than the title, authors, and publisher details. These include descriptive phrases (“Patriotic Song,” “Soldiers March,” etc.), but exclude phrases that are already incorporated into the metadata (“Words by,” “Music by,” “Song,” etc.). They also include prices and arrangements, when these appear. [top]

Back cover description

This field contains a description of the back cover, including the titles advertised therein together with their copyright dates, when known. “Covers” are thumbnail reductions of cover images; “samples” are full pages of music (usually the first page); “incipits” are short excerpts, usually of the first few bars; “titles” are text-only advertisements; “text” is a block of informative text, usually providing contextual or historical information. Covers, samples, incipits, and titles appear in ”lists” (a single column) or “rows” (several columns).

Hence the format for the back cover description can take many forms, including but not limited to:

List of titles: <heading>: <title 1 (©)>; <title 2 (©)>, etc.

Text and samples, in a simple frame: ; <title 2 (©)>, etc.

Twelve samples in four rows:
First row: <title 2 (©)>; <title 3 (©)>
Second row: <title 2 (©)>; <title 3 (©)>

Sixteen samples in four rows:
First row: <title 2 (©)>; <title 3 (©)>; <title 4 (©; cover)
Second row: <title 2 (©)>; <title 3 (©)>; <title 4 (©; cover)
Text: <heading>; <brief description>
List of titles: <heading>; <title 1, etc., if less than thirteen>

Interior description

Here appears, in order:

Text that appears on interior pages, in order. This sometimes includes full pages (usually the verso of either the front or back cover) that contain advertisements for other songs; entries for these follow the conventions for back covers. In other cases text or advertisements, sometimes with incipits, appear on the borders of interior pages. Note that the full copyright line at the bottom of the first page of music is not included.

Text that appears on the gutters of conjoined interior pages.

Plate numbers. [top]

Performance medium

Summarized here are the performing forces required or implied by the music as printed. For choral works the number of parts is not noted, nor is the presence or absence of soloists. [top]

Original Location, Local Identifier, Collection Title

These are all standard cataloguing fields. The collection title is the name of the digital archive; the original location specifies the box and, for Myers items, folder in which the physical copy can be found; and the local identifier is the index number for the item as found in the database that underlies and supports the archival images. [top]