Monday, November 7th, 2016...6:02 pm

But wait, there’s more: Many faces of Hawaiian Butterfly

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Our recent Hidden Collections sheet music project has continued to produce treasures from the Historical Sheet Music Collections of Houghton and the Harvard Theatre Collection. (Yes, as Susan Sarandon would say in Bull Durham, we need a nickname.) We have now identified 29 different issues of Hawaiian Butterfly. Even as familiar with the vagaries of special collections as I am, have never seen quite this many variants of one song publication.

Sheet music 159 (CC)

Sheet music 159 (CC)


Several of the scores are signed or inscribed by their former owners, which makes for some interesting reading. This variant featuring Hudler, Stein, and Phillips in the cover inset, belonged to a Zeta Psi frat boy at Brown University. Did “Zetes,” like Humphrey Bogart remembers in Sabrina, serenade their girls with popular songs like Hawaiian Butterfly?

Sheet music 159 (EE)

Sheet music 159 (EE)

Mantilla and Cahill also look pretty classy, but seem to have specialized in Hawaiian songs. No frat signatures on this variant!

Sheet music 159 (AA)

Sheet music 159 (AA)

But best of all, we have powerhouse Sophie Tucker, formerly owned by M.O. Robbins. Tucker was still a part of American popular culture in my childhood, and I vaguely remember hearing her on television. This song really made the rounds! So many surprises to be found in our sheet music collection: I’ll surely never again assume that all sheet music is created equal.

[Thanks to Andrea Cawelti, Ward Music Cataloger, for contributing this post.]

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