The Hugo Keesing collection on television and popular theme songs is comprised of sheet music of theme songs from popular television and radio programs of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It also contains several books about many popular shows, ranging from viewer guides, pictorial histories, and quizzes, covering a variety of programs from 1950s soap operas to politcal dramas of the 2000s like The West Wing. The materials were collected by Hugo Keesing, a popular culture scholar and former professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland. The bulk of the collection covers the period from the 1950s to the 1990s.
The collection is open for research use. Materials from this collection must be used in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library's Irving and Margery Morgan Lowens Special Collections Room, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Contact the curator for an appointment: http://www.lib.umd.edu/scpa/contact
Copyright was not transferred with the donation of the materials; all rights remain with the creators and rights holders.
2.25 Linear Feet
The Hugo Keesing collection on television and popular theme songs covers the period from 1929 to 2007; the bulk of the materials date from the 1950s to the 1990s. This collection is one of many maintained by Dr. Keesing. It is comprised of approximately 380 pieces of sheet music and one songbook of theme songs from popular television programs twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The scores are arranged alphabetically by the title of the television program with which the song is associated. The songbook is in a separate folder at the end of the alphabet. The majority of the publications in this collection are from the United States, as well as small amount from England. The order of this collection was created by Keesing prior to donation and consequently maintained during archival processing. This collection also contains several books about many popular shows, ranging from viewer guides, pictorial histories, and quizzes, covering a variety of programs from 1950s soaps to The West Wing. Dr. Keesing has also collected several items of realia and memorabilia related to popular television shows, available in the Keesing Collection on Popular Music and Culture. See "Related Materials" section of this finding aid for more information.
[See finding aid for the Hugo Keesing collection on popular music and culture for information on Hugo Keesing]
From a 1971 NBC publication celebrating the 25th anniversary of television, housed in this collection: "For the past 25 years, television has been a kind of crossroad that has served as an oasis and bazaar. In the 'global village' of the electronic age, it has given us the latest word on what's happening, sold us everything from tea to trucks, exposed us to the world's great artists and acted as the one baby sitter you don't have to tip.
The television set has also inspired a host of rites and rituals in our civilization: Howdy Doody Time, Tuesdays at eight for Uncle Miltie, Sundays at eight for the Great Stone Face... 'Remember, don't sit too close to the tube!', 'Where's the TV Guide?' 'We'll talk about it during the commericial!'
Over the years, television has become our country's cultural common denominator. It enable millions of us to share the same moment, be it a World Series game, a Senate hearing, a Moon flight, or a song by Kukla, Fran and Ollie. Because of its tremendous impact on us, Television's Twenty Fifth Anniversary is also our anniversary as well. Happy Anniversary to us all!"
Since the development of color television and cable throughout the 1940s and 1950s, television sets became a coveted item for households in the United States, as well as a major source of entertainment embedded into this country's cultural fabric. Many television programs were designed to reflect societal values and trends, with music serving an integral role in popularizing and advertising many of these shows. Throughout the twentieth century, a multitude of new music was written specifically for TV broadcasts, from catchy commercial jingles to memorable earworm theme songs to introduce shows. Many of these songs became so popular, especially during the 1960s through the 1990s, that they topped the Billboard charts and became known separately from the show with which they were originally associated.
In addition to recordings and radio, sheet music has been another way to preserve and access popular music during the twentieth century (and even more so in the nineteenth century before recordings existed and amateur music making was thriving). While sheet music is still available today, its popularity has declined in the wake of internet music streaming and websites like YouTube with tutorials on how to play the popular hits of the day. The sheet music arrangements in this collection are mostly for voice and piano, with tablature for guitarists, making it accessible for amateur musicians. This was typical for the mid- to late twentieth century. There are also several piano solos for theme songs without lyrics.
This collection has been arranged into two series.
Gift of Hugo Keesing made in January 2016.
Part of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library