Adopt-a-Book 2011, Part 4: Song and Dance Man

Today we continue a series of blog posts highlighting items from our upcoming Adopt-a-Book event, slated for Tuesday, March 29, 2011, at 6PM in Antiquarian Hall.  You can read the entire  Adopt-a-Book 2011 catalog on the AAS website, where you will find descriptions of all 176 items up for adoption this year.

Our fourth orphan scheduled for the spotlight today is no. 14 in the catalog and was selected by AAS’s curator of books, David Whitesell. This orphan is different, though, in that it is a perfect example of how fast the adoption process can happen at AAS. In the time since this post was written and scheduled to go up, the item has already been adopted! You can still come to see it in person at our Adopt-a-Book event, but let this be a lesson to us all: Don’t let your favorite get away — adopt today!

14. Billy Holmes’s comic local lyrics, containing a choice collection of comic and sentimental songs … New York: Dick & Fitzgerald, [1866]. Adopted in honor of Joanne L. Wilson.

This scarce songster contains lyrics to nearly fifty songs in the repertory of popular stage comedian Billy Holmes.  Nearly half are predictably Irish in content, including three versions of “The Wearing of the Green.” But many refer to the recently concluded Civil War: “Admiral Farragut’s Fleet,” “Kearsarge and Alabama,” “The Dying Soldier at Antietam,” etc.  During the war Holmes performed in New York, Philadelphia and Hartford and was often billed as a “variety specialist.”  In his dashing checkered pants, he sang, acted and danced both in a troupe (called by one newspaper critic a “full and efficient company”) and alone.  His solo act got great press during the Civil War when Holmes was billed variously as the “best comic Irish and Patriotic singer of the day,” the “best comic singer in the country,” and the “established Philadelphia favorite.”  This song book joins several separately published patriotic ballads written by Holmes during the war which are already in the Society’s holdings.

In order to adopt any other object in the Adopt-a-Book 2011 catalog that hasn’t already been adopted, please click on the link and follow the directions for “How to Adopt” which are found in the sidebar to the right at the top of the page.  Remember, you don’t have to wait until March 29th to adopt!

Published by

Lauren Hewes

Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Graphic Arts, American Antiquarian Society

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