University of Oregon

Index to this guide:

Indexes to Songs in Collections
Songs- Information and Sources
Indexes for Finding Articles
Subject Headings To Use In The Catalogs
Guides To Research
Encyclopedias And Dictionaries
Recordings & Videos
Web Sites

Research Guides


Checklist for Researching American Popular Songs


I. Take a tour of the Library.

These are available by appointment by calling the music librarian, Ann Shaffer (x6-1850), or emailing her at .

    II. Search the song indexes for collections that may contain your song(s).

    Often, these collections include historical information about the origins and source of the songs and those who sang them.

      III. Search the UO Library's web site under Keywords for recordings and videos that may include your song(s).

      Another good source for information on songs are the liner notes to record albums, where people like Alan Lomax have written about finding the song and recording it in the fields with the singers.

        IV. Search the various indexes to find articles about your song in journals.

        Rather than search each journal separately to see if there is any information on your song, the best sources are often periodical indexes.
        The Music Reference area has a number of indexes that may be helpful in researching your topic. These are listed below and should help in determining which indexes are available, and which ones to use.

          V. Search the UO Library's web site by subject for books about American music in general.

          Several prominent authors, particularly Child, have written extensively on folk music and have traced the origins of many of the ballads we know in America today. Search the UO Library's web site using the subject heading terms suggested in this resource.

            VI. Search the list of resources included in this site to determine which specialized resources might have more useful information about your topic.

            HAVE ANY QUESTIONS? Ask a librarian!
            The music librarian is Ann Shaffer. Her hours are usually Monday- Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. You can make an appointment for help with your research by calling x6-1850 [346-1850]. You can also contact her by e-mail at



              [Value: Many of these collections include historical information about the songwriters, songs, and performers. Search these by the title of the song or the first line.]

            Charms, Desiree de.
            Songs in Collections: an Index.
            [MUSIC REF. ML 128 .S3 D37] - MUSIC INDEX TABLE

            Havlice, Patrice.
            Popular Song Index. 1 vol. & 4 supplements.
            [MUSIC REF. ML 128 .S3 H4]- MUSIC INDEX TABLE

            Sears, Minnie.
            Song Index.
            [MUSIC REF. ML 128 .S3 S31] - MUSIC INDEX TABLE



                [Value: Traces songs through their history, and lists popular songs of each era]

              Bloom, Ken.
              American Song: the Complete Musical Theatre Companion. 2d ed. 4 vols.
              [MUSIC REF. ML 128 .M78 B6 1996]

              Burton, Jack.
              The Blue Book of Broadway Musicals.
              [MUSIC ML 200.5 .B88]

              Denisoff, R. Serge.
              Songs of protest, war & peace: a Bibliography & Discography.
              [MUSIC REF. ML 128 .W2 D5 1973]

              Ewen, David.
              American Popular Songs from the Revolutionary War to the Present.
              [MUSIC REF. ML 128 .N3 E9]

              Kinkle, Roger.
              The Complete Encyclopedia of Popular Music and Jazz, 1900- 1950. 4 vols.
              [MUSIC REF. ML 102 .P66 K55]

              Lax, Roger.
              The Great Song Thesaurus. 2d ed.
              [MUSIC REF. ML 128 .S3 L4 1989]

              Lewine, Richard.
              Songs of the Theater.
              [MUSIC REF. ML 128 .S3 L55 1984]

              Reuss, Richard A.
              Songs of American labor, industrialization, and the urban work experience: a discography.
              [MUSIC REF. ML 156.4 .L2 R49 1983]

              Shapiro, Nat.
              Popular Music: an annotated index of American Popular Songs.
              [MUSIC REF. ML 120 .U5 S5][1920 - 1980]

              Studwell, William E.
              The Americana song reader.
              [MUSIC REF. ML3551 .S78 1997]


                [In order of usefulness.]

              Music resources

              The Music Index.
              1949 - 2000 (in paper) and on the web, from the Databases & Indexes section of the UO Library's Catalog.
              [MUSIC REF. ML 118 .M84]
              MUSIC INDEX TABLE (Last 10 years)
              Need help? See the Guide to Using the Music Index

              Popular Music Periodicals Index.
              1974 - 1976
              [MUSIC ML 118 .P66]

              Academic Search Premier.
              [Available on the UO Library's web page, under Articles, Databases & Indexes]

              Alternative Press Index.
              1969 - present.
              Available on the UO Library's web, under Articles, Databases & Indexes

                Resources on music in popular culture

                America: History and Life.
                1964 - present.
                Available on the UO Library's web, under Databases & Indexes

                Popular Abstracts.
                [Provides abstracts for articles in The Journal of Popular Culture (1967 - 1977); The Journal of Popular Film (1972 - 1977); and Popular Music & Society (1971 - 1975).
                [KNIGHT P 91 .P6]


                  Journals Devoted to Folk Music

                  [Note: These are resources that may contain articles on folk music in the United States, but the Indexes listed above are more efficient for finding articles about your particular songs.]

                  Many of these journals are available online through our library's web site- and in the indexes listed above.

                  American music. (Published by the Society for American Music)
                  [MUSIC ML 1 .A497]

                  Bulletin of the International Council for Traditional Music.
                  [MUSIC ML 26 .I4]

                  Ethnomusicology. (Published by the Society for Ethnomusicology)
                  [MUSIC ML 1 .E77]

                  Selected reports in ethnomusicology.
                  [MUSIC ML 3547.1 .S44]

                  Sing Out.
                  [MUSIC ML 1 .S588]

                  The Sonneck Society bulletin. (Now known as the Society for American Music )
                  [MUSIC ML 27 .U5 S76]

                  Yearbook for traditional music.
                  [MUSIC ML 1 .I719]



                    The following subject headings from the LCSH are used in the University of Oregon's subject catalogs to find books, scores, and recordings of popular songs.
                    You may also use peoples' names as subject headings in both the catalog and the indexes.


                      POPULAR MUSIC
                      BLUES (MUSIC)
                      CHRISTMAS MUSIC
                      COUNTRY MUSIC
                      DANCE MUSIC
                      FOLK MUSIC
                      (You can add the name of the country or people after this)
                      FOLK SONGS ( You can add the name of the country of people after this)
                      GOSPEL MUSIC
                      MUSIC AND RACE
                      MUSIC AND WAR
                      PROTEST SONGS
                      REGGAE MUSIC
                      RHYTHM AND BLUES MUSIC
                      ROCK MUSIC
                      SOUL MUSIC
                      WAR SONGS


                        Miller, Terry E.
                        Folk Music in America: a Reference Guide.
                        [MUSIC REF. ML 128 .F74 M5 1986]

                          ENCYCLOPEDIAS AND DICTIONARIES


                            [Value: these provide an overview of each area of popular and folk music, and give biographical information on performers and composers]

                          General Music Encyclopedias

                          The New Grove dictionary of music and musicians.
                          [MUS REF. ML100.N48 2001 (29 vols.)]

                          The source for beginning research on music. Under the heading, United States of American, Folk Music there is an extensive set of articles, with examples of songs and bibliographies.

                          Note: The second edition of this important source is available on the web by clicking on the title of the New Grove in this handout or going to the main UO web catalog and putting the title Grove Music Online into the search box, limiting it to TITLE.
                          To access this from home, you must be connected through a UO ip address.

                          The New Grove dictionary of American music.
                          [MUSIC REF. ML101.U6N48 1986 v.1- v.4]

                          A good source for historical background articles, with excellent bibliographies and headings on Folk Music, Work Songs, Political Music, as well as European-American Music.

                            Folk Genre-Specific Resources



                            Hart, Mary L.
                            The Blues: a Bibliographical Guide.
                            [MUSIC REF. ML 128 .B49 H3 1989]

                            Herzhaft, Gerhard.
                            Encyclopedia of the Blues.
                            [MUSIC ML 102 .B6 H39 1992]


                              FOLK MUSIC

                              Baggelaar, Kristin.
                              Folk Music: More Than a Song.
                              [MUSIC ML 3551 .B17]

                              Lifton, Sarah.
                              The Listener's Guide to Folk Music.
                              [MUSIC ML 3545 .L454 1983]

                              Stambler, Irwin.
                              The Encyclopedia of Folk, Country & Western Music. 2nd. ed.
                              [MUSIC REF. ML 102 .F66 S7 1983]

                                GOSPEL MUSIC

                                Anderson, Robert.
                                Gospel Music Encyclopedia.
                                [MUSIC ML 102 .G6 A5]

                                Jackson, Irene W.
                                Afro-American Religious Music: a Bibliography and a Catalogue of Gospel Music.
                                [MUSIC REF. ML 128 .S4 J]

                                  POPULAR MUSIC

                                  Gammond, Peter.
                                  The Oxford Companion to Popular Music.
                                  [MUSIC REF. ML 102 .P66 G35 1991]

                                  The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. 4 vols.
                                  [MUSIC REF. ML 102.P66 G84 1998]

                                  Hardy, Phil.
                                  The Faber Companion to 20th-Century Popular Music. Rev. ed.
                                  [MUSIC REF. ML 105 .H37 2001]

                                  The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music.
                                  [MUSIC REF. ML102.P66 P5 1998]

                                  Stambler, Irwin.
                                  Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock, Soul. Rev. Ed.
                                  [MUSIC ML 102 .P66 S8 1989]

                                  Stambler, Irwin.
                                  Encyclopedia of Popular Music.
                                  [MUSIC ML 102 .J3 S8]



                                      [These lists articles and books about American folk topics]

                                    Haywood, Charles,
                                    A Bibliography of North American Folklore and Folksong. 2nd rev. ed. 2 vols.
                                    [MUSIC REF. ML 128 .F75 H3 1961]

                                      Recordings & Videos on American Folk Songs:

                                      Along with books, articles, and printed collections of the folksongs, record jacket program notes and videos can present valuable information about your songs and tales.

                                      To determine what recordings and videos we own in the library, search the UO Library's catalog by Keyword for individual titles of songs, or use the Subject Headings noted under the Books section of this guide to find collections of recordings and videos on folk music in America.

                                      Another source for information on what recordings are available commercially are Discographies.

                                      The following sources are examples:

                                      And the resource which lists some of the folk recordings we own in the Knight Library is the United States section of the UO World Music Discography. While not a complete listing of what we own, it does include a number of listings of recordings. A paper copy of this is available in the Douglass Listening Room, and the web site is available at

                                      Video recordings, such as the one listed below, can be found by searching the World Music Videography for North America:United States to see what we own. A copy of this videography is available in the Douglass Listening Room, with a web version available in 2007.

                                      One example of these videos is:

                                      Videos are located on the first floor of the Knight Library, and must be used in the building.

                                      • Cohen, Norm.
                                        Traditional Anglo-American folk music : an annotated discography of published sound recordings.
                                        [MUSIC REF. ML156.4.F5 C64 1994]

                                        Meade, Guthrie T.
                                        Country music sources : a biblio-discography of commercially recorded traditional music.
                                        [MUSIC REF. ML156.4.F5 M43 2002]

                                          Discovering American folk music.
                                          1 videocassette (VHS) (21 min.)
                                          SUMMARY: Reviews the two main influences -- African and English -- on the development of American folk music. Traces the history of one ballad from its original British version through its journey across America to its emergence in the American West as the cowboy song, The streets of Laredo, and later in an Afro- American blues version entitled The St. James Infirmary.

                                          Web Sites on American Music


                                          Sources at the University of Oregon:


                                          Sources on the World Wide Web

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