Most bound volumes in our collection that are about one inch thick contain between thirty and forty individual pieces. This volume, unassuming as it is, contains ninety three.
While its former owner Georgine Holmes Thomas (1848-1940) donated several other bound music volumes, Souvenir of the Confederacy is one-of-a-kind. Thomas’s father, Daniel Henry Holmes (1816-1898) owned a department store in New Orleans for much of his life; his wealth allowed the family to maintain several homes and travel frequently. (Georgine honored her father by leaving the funds for Harvard’s Holmes Hall, now part of Pforzheimer House.) Georgine and her sister Polly studied music in Paris before the Civil War but the girls spent the duration of the conflict at the family’s Covington, Kentucky estate, Holmesdale. (Read more about the Holmes family here or check out this book.)
Whether Daniel Henry Holmes purchased this music himself after the war or had it collected on his behalf by one of his business contacts as it was being published, the volume’s seeming lack of use (“Georgine and Polly Holmes” being the only annotation) confirms its “souvenir” status. Dated between 1860 and 1866, the majority of songs in the Souvenir relate to various aspects of the war from the Confederate perspective. All but one were published by the Southern publishing firm of A.E. Blackmar in Augusta, Georgia. Wartime blockades meant that Southern printers had to get creative when it came to things like paper and ink: the paper here is remarkably thin and of poor quality (which allowed for a surprising quantity music in one small volume).
Having this much Confederate music in one place is a rare treat, and we believe that this volume will be of use for musicologists and historians alike.
[Thanks to Katie Callam, Pforzheimer Fellow, for contributing this post.]