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Primary Sources in Music

An introduction to finding primary source materials in music, including useful reference works and a selection of online resources organized by topic.

Digitized Manuscript and Printed Music

Catalogs of Manuscripts, Publications, or Collections

Printed Music Collection Catalogs

Descriptive catalogs of specialized collections or of collections in major libraries are sometimes published in book format.  Such catalogs are shelved under ML136, mostly in the reference section.

In some case these books have been superceded by online catalogs, but in others the print catalog remains the easiest (or sometimes only) access to all or part of the collection. 


  • Catalogue of Printed Music In the British Library to 1980Reference ML136 .L8 B62
  • Dictionary Catalog of the Music Collection (New York Public Library) — Oversize Reference ML136 .N5 N573*

Popular Sheet Music and Ballad Sheets

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