The Luther Whiting Mason-Osbourne McConathy Collection
Hall, Bonlyn Goodwin
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The Mason-McConathy Collection at the Library of Congress contains approximately 700 items, principally nineteenth-century European school song books, folk-song books, and books of vocal pedagogy. The collection belonged to two American music educators, Luther Whiting Mason (1818-1896) and Osbourne McConathy (1875-1947) before being given to the Library of Congress in 1948. This thesis consists of a catalog of the collection and an introductory essay. The catalog organizes the collection into 500 bibliographic records, with indexes by title and personal name. The essay traces the collection's history and relates it to the careers of its two owners. After a brief analysis of the contents, the question of its significance is addressed. This appears to be a unique collection in the United States, for material of its kind and period. Its greater significance, however, lies in its use as source material for songs published in Mason's and McConathy's own American series of school song books. To test the thesis that the collection was so used, Mason's first publication, The First Music Reader, serves as a sample. Of its 64 songs, 48 can be demonstrated to have come from the European song books, most of them German, in the Mason-McConathy Collection. Of those, at least seven have become popular in the United States, as measured by their repeated publication in song anthologies. The collection thus is shown to have special significance as a vehicle through which elements of popular German musical culture have been disseminated in American society.