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Archives at The Museum of Flight

World War I Era Sheet Music Collection

Identifier: 2004-00-00-5
The collection is comprised of eighteen (18) pieces of World War I-era sheet music for popular songs written before and during World War I. The collection includes several patriotic pre-war songs focusing on joining the army and doing one's duty for the war effort, with this subject continuing into the early war. The songs of later years shift into subjects of missing loved ones "over there" and hoping for peace and their safe return. The music was written primarily by American and British songwriters and composers. The music covers feature colorful illustrations and occasionally photo portraits of the composers and/or singers who popularized the song.


  • 1907-1918

Language of Materials

All materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research and is accessible in the Dahlberg Research Center by appointment. For more information contact us.

Conditions Governing Use

The Museum of Flight (TMOF) Archives is the owner of the physical materials in the archives and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from TMOF archives before any publication use. TMOF does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.


0.05 Cubic Feet (1 oversize folder)


The collection contains sheet music for popular songs written before and during World War I.

Historical Note

The following historical note is derived from Frederick Vogel's World War I Songs.

One of the effects of the Great War was the proliferation of popular music inspired by the conflict. Most songs were written in the vaudeville style and performed in venues of that genre, which contributed to swift turnover and constant production of new content. This quick succession meant also that when a song was successful, often a dozen variations on the theme or parodies would spring up in response.

Many of the songs were patriotic anthems urging young men to do their duty, with even pacifists like Alfred Bryan, who co-wrote "It's Time for Every Boy to be a Soldier," lending their talents. Others reflected on the tragedy of war, such as "After the War is Over (Will There Be Any Home Sweet Home?)." Some melancholy songs maintained the necessity of war but were farewell songs between lovers or between mothers and sons. These "mother songs" were particularly common, with songwriters like Andrew Sterling and Arthur Lange penning multiple works on the subject. One such song, Sterling and Lange's "America Here's My Boy," became a popular recruiting song in 1917. Finally, at the war's end, songs welcomed troops home and praised the Allied victory.

According to one source, over 35,000 songs and tunes were copyrighted in the United States during the war and postwar years of 1914 to 1919, many never being officially published and most rarely maintaining long-term popularity after the next was released. The sheer number of songs dedicated to the subject of this war reflects its significant impact on the American culture.


Frederick G. Vogel. World War I Songs: A Historical and Dictionary of Popular American Patriotic Tunes, with Over 300 Complete Lyrics. McFarland & Company, Inc.: Jefferson, N.C., 1995.


No further accruals are expected.

Existence and Location of Copies

Materials from this collection have been digitized and are available at The Museum of Flight Digital Collections.

Related Archival Materials at the Museum of Flight

The following collection also includes music from World War I:

Walter and Flossie Smith Collection. Materials relating to Walter Smith's Air Force career and World War I-era music collected by Flossie Smith. Includes five (5) pieces of sheet music and a song book.
Guide to the World War I Era Sheet Music Collection
Completed - Level 4
A. Demeter
Description rules
Language of description
Processing, cataloging and digitization of this collection was made possible by a Council on Libraries and Information Resources (CLIR) "Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives" grant.
Edition statement
1st Edition

Revision Statements

  • November 2018: Finding aid migrated to ArchivesSpace.

Repository Details

Part of the The Museum of Flight Archives Repository

9404 East Marginal Way South
Seattle Washington 98108-4097

The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
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