Gift from Tech grad puts 100 years of music history into students’ hands

​M.E. (Davis Smart) Miller (English Education, ’70; English, ’73) recently donated a treasure trove of vintage popular and classical sheet music, books, and trade magazines dating back as far as the 1860s and up through the mid-1970s to the Louisiana Tech University School of Music.

This donation of over 1,300 items is now housed in the department of University Archives and Special Collections in Prescott Memorial Library. The collection features a wide range of music genres, including ragtime, vaudeville tunes, country and western, film music, jazz and the blues, patriotic music and war songs, Broadway classics (with a particularly large collection of works by Irving Berlin), and novelty tunes, such as “Oh! I Love No One But’er My Oleomargarine” (Gaskill and Leslie, 1926). Included among the donated items are very early editions of popular tunes appropriate for this time of year, such as “White Christmas” (Irving Berlin, 1942) and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (Gillespie and Coots, 1934).

“The importance and value of having a collection like this on our own campus can’t be overstated,” said Michael Austin, Founding Director of the School of Music. “Music publishing is an important part of the music industry that often gets overlooked, and this collection represents a time in history when sheet music was the music industry. If you’re going to be a future leader in this business and help to determine where the music industry is going, you really need to understand where it’s been and what baggage it’s bringing with it.”

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