On July 26, 1775 – 237 years ago today – the first Post Office was founded right here in Philadelphia, with Ben Franklin at the helm as the first Post Master General. But not even Ben could’ve predicted that, from that point on, the musical floodgates would open for countless songs about stamp collecting, love letters, and waiting on that ever-reliable Mr. Postman to be written.
Let’s take a look at some postal-focused illustrations from the Music Department’s historic collection of sheet music. Some are even older than the Civil War!
The Stamp Galop (1861) / composed by Arhur O’Leary. Boston : Ditson
Beatrice Fairfax Tell Me What to Do! (1915) / words by Grant Clark and Joe McCarthy. New York : Leo Feist Inc.
Instead of consulting her parents, a young woman writes to America’s first Miss Lonely Hearts columnist for advice on courting a new beau. Choice line: "Pa said he's a loafer, but I know he's a chauffeur."
The Lost Letter (1883) / words & music by Henry C. Work. Chicago : S. Brainard's Sons
Letter from Those You Love (1907) / words by Frank Melvill, music by Robt W. Edwards. New York :F.B.Haviland.
A Letter from no man’s land (1918) / by Harold B. Freeman . Providence, RI : Harold Freeman Music Co.
This World War I waltz focuses on a mother “dreaming alone” until she gets the letter from her son in the army. Choice line: “Perhaps all the words were not spelled right, or the meaning was not very clear. A frayed little scrawl but she read it all, it started with Mother Dear.”
Bring Me a Letter from Home (1881) / words by Geo M. Vickers and Adam Geibel. San Fransisco : Mathias Gray.
The Lover’s Letter Box (1857) / composed by H.A. Wollenhaupt. New York : William Hall and Son.
The Free Library Music Department’s Sheet Music Collection – consisting of over 250,000 titles from opera arias to show tunes, pop standards, and blues and folk from different eras and countries – is one of the finest in the nation. If you’re hunting for a particular song, we have guides in musical anthologies and in collections. Stop in today!