American Antiquarian Society

Collection Size: 
185 Salisbury St, Worcester MA, USA 01609
French, German

The American Antiquarian Society has a vast and diverse collection of early North American hymnals, including a large number of volumes from the preeminent collections formed by Bishop Robert W. Peach and Frank J. Metcalf. Beginning with the first book printed on American soil, The Whole Booke of Psalmes, commonly known as the Bay Psalm Book, the collection includes compilations of sacred verses and music printed in North America through 1876 and numbers well over 5,000 volumes. The pre-1841 hymnals are fully cataloged, and are easily accessible via the Imprints Catalog and online. Two works helpful in identifying and locating pre-1821 tunebooks are Frank J. Metcalf's American Psalmody (New York, 1917) and a checklist of sacred tunebooks located at the Society, both available at the readers' services desk. Nearly all of the post-1820 hymnals are shelved as a separate collection, although a few find their way into the Miniature Books collection by virtue of their size. A detailed checklist of hymnals is available at the readers' services desk. This catalog was begun as an author-title union list of hymnals, and it continues to be annotated and updated with AAS holdings. Included are all of the English-language hymnals found at the Society, followed by a supplement of post-1820 North American-printed foreign language hymnals, principally in German and French. Another bibliographical tool, published by AAS, in 1990, is American Sacred Music Imprints, 1698-1810: A Bibliography, by Allen P. Britton, Irving Lowens, and Richard Crawford. The collection is strongly supported by secondary sources, including John Julian's definitive The Dictionary of Hymnology (London, 1907), annotated by Bishop Peach; numerous biographies of hymn writers and composers; The Bibliography of American Hymnals, published in microform and compiled by the Hymn Society of America; early and contemporary periodicals; sound recordings; and many denominational and topical bibliographies.