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The Hugo Keesing collection on television and popular theme songs

 Collection 0319-SCPA

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.


  • Copyright: 1915-2007
  • Copyright: Majority of material found within 1950s-1990s

Use and Access to Collection

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:

Duplication and Copyright Information

Copyright was not transferred with the donation of the materials; all rights remain with the creators and rights holders.


2.25 Linear Feet

  • Title inventory for television and popular theme songs sheet music

Scope and Contents

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.

Biographical / Historical

[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.

  1. Series 1: Theme Song Sheet Music
  2. Series 2: Books about Television

Custodial History

Gift of Hugo Keesing made in January 2016.

Related Materials

In addition to this collection, the other Keesing materials at Special Collections in the Performing Arts (SCPA) are separated into ten other collections (see the list below). Also available for access are thousands of LP singles and pieces of sheet music pertaining to popular music in the twentieth century. Items found in these other collections may also be relevant to research in music for television. Please refer to the list below for several examples of television related materials.

An additional finding aid exists to further describe the memorabilia contained within several of the Keesing collections.

The Keesing collection also contains thousands of cataloged books, available for use in the Lowens room. To view the available titles, visit the Libraries' catalog. Using the "type of search" drop-down menu, select "call number" and type "MKEESING" into the word search box. This brings up a multi-page, browse-able list of Keesing Collection books.

Additionally, the following books and CD collections by Dr. Keesing are available for use at the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library:

Keesing, Hugo A. Battleground Korea: Songs and Sounds of America's Forgotten War. Bear Family Productions, 2018. 4-CD boxed set and accompanying 159-page book. Call number: Paged Collections, MCD 19705.

Keesing, Hugo A. Next Stop is Vietnam: The War on Record. Bear Family Records, 2010. 13-CD boxed set and accompanying 304-page book. Call number: Paged Collections, MCD 12460.

Keesing, Hugo A. Incomplete Bibliography of Pop/Rock Music: Key Word Version. Call number: Reference, ML128.R6 K43 1989.

Keesing, Hugo A. "Semper Fi": An Annotated Index of World War II Era Songs about the United States Marine Corps. 1997. Call number: Paged Collections, ML128.W2 K43 1997.

Keesing, Hugo A. Victory Girls: An Incomplete, Annotated Index of World War II Sheet Music Depicting Women in Non-Military Work. 1997. Call number: Reference, ML128.W2 K44 1997.

Keesing, Hugo A. "Youth in Transition: A Content Analysis of Two Decades of Popular Music." 1972. Call number: Lowens Special Collections Room, ML3477 .K44 1972.

The following items are available in Series 1 and 2 of The Hugo Keesing collection on popular music and culture:

Series 1: Realia

  1. American Bandstand Jigsaw Puzzle
  2. Dick Clark's American Bandstand Grill plastic bag
  3. Dick Clark's American Bandstand Grill T-shirt
  4. Jimmy Dean's Autograph
  5. Dallas the Television Role-playing Game Collector's Game
  6. The Dukes of Hazzard Collector's Jigsaw Puzzle
  7. MTV Video Collector's Plastic Cups
  8. Donny and Marie Dress-up Set
  9. Donny and Marie Frame-Tray Puzzle
  10. The Osmonds Collector's lunchbox
  11. The Partridge Family Collector's Game
  12. Partridge Family Collector's Thermos
  13. David Cassidy Dress-up Set Collector's Game
  14. Shaun Cassidy Collector's Jigsaw Puzzle
  15. Rock Around the Clock Collector's T-shirt

Series 2: Ephemera

  1. Alf Cards, Stickers, Bubble Gum
  2. All My Children Cards
  3. Batman Cards, Stickers, Gum
  4. Beverly Hills 90210 Photo Cards and Stickers
  5. Charlie's Angels Cards and Bubble Gum
  6. Garfield McDonald's Happy Meal Box
  7. Growing Pains Cards, Stickers, Bubble Gum
  8. Mac Tonight McDonald's Happy Meal Box
  9. Mickey's BirthdayLand McDonald's Happy Meal Box
  10. Mork and Mindy Picture Cards and Bubble Gum
  11. Mork Bubble Gum
  12. MTV Rock 'n' Roll Calendar
  13. The Simpsons Cards, Stickers, Puzzles
  14. Star Trek 25th Anniversary Official Trading Cards
  15. Star Trek The Next Generation Collector's Cards
  16. Teeage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cards, Stickers, Bubble Gum
  17. Three's Company Stickers and Bubble Gum

An additional finding aid exists to further describe the memorabilia contained within several of the Keesing collections.

Other items of interest may be located in The Hugo Keesing collection on Annette Funicello and Hayley Mills, two television and film actresses primarily known for their work with Disney during the 1950s and 1960s. For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.

The Hugo Keesing collection on television and popular theme songs
Meghan Creek, February 2019
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Library Details

Part of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library

University of Maryland Libraries
8270 Alumni Drive
College Park MD 20742 United States