Southern Illinois University Edwardsville: Lovejoy Library

Collection Size: 
Edwardsville IL, USA 62026
Email/Contact Person: 
Fine Arts Librarian

The Essex Hymnal Collection dates from 1774 to 1920 and contains 443 American hymnals and song books which trace the development of the American religious experience. The collection includes psalms, tune books, children's hymnals, revival and camp meeting songbooks, Sunday School and multi-denominational hymnals. Represented are abolition, temperance, patriotic and social gospel hymns. Distinct differences can be observed between colonial, pre-Civil War, Civil War, and post-Civil War hymnals. The Essex Collection features hymnals from a wide spectrum of Christian denominations, and the Jewish religion. Some volumes are shape-note editions while others are accompanied by instruction in the rudiments of music. Some books are of reduced size, suitable for transportation to camp-meetings in the minister's saddle bags. One of the collection's greatest strengths is its coverage of significant Sunday School hymnals. Also noteworthy is the existence of several editions or revisions of the same hymnal, which allows for study of a particular hymnal's evolution over time. The Essex Hymnals represent a unique collection of primary source materials of interest not only to serious scholars, but also to elementary and secondary schoolteachers for classroom use, as well as to the general public interested in American culture and music. Chicago-imprint titles have been cataloged and digitized and are available from the Internet Archive: Date range: 19th-20th c.