Broadway Melody, 1929
Scope and Contents note
This series contains 1065 pieces of sheet music, including 90 duplicates—representing different printings or editions—or a total of 975 unique items. The materials date from 1848 to 1988, with the bulk from circa 1895 to 1940. They relate almost exclusively to American musical theater and vaudeville, with a small number relating to their British counterparts. The series is arranged in 3 boxes and 10 albums (numbered 4 through 13), labeled as follows:
Missing TitleFrom the Series:
- Camp -- Vol. 4
- Female Impersonation -- Vol. 13
- Gay Love -- Vol. 6
- Indians ; Black / Scenic -- Vol. 8
- Military / Patriotic -- Vol. 10
- Romance -- Vol. 7
- Sweethearts Men -- Vol. 5
- Sweethearts Women -- Vol. 9
- Vodvil / Stage / Radio / Movies -- Vol. 12
- Women in Pants -- Vol. 11
The contents of the albums are scheduled to be transferred to boxes sometime in the future.
The series contains approximately 250 items whose covers depict cross-dressing. The earliest examples are two songs written by William Lingard and published in 1868; the covers of both show Lingard in a dress. The bulk of these items are songs “introduced” or “sung with great success” by established stars of musical theater and vaudeville. Female stars appearing in male attire include Vesta Tilley (16 songs), Florence Tempest (15 songs, both as a solo artist and as part of the duo Tempest and Sunshine), and Hetty King and Ella Shields (each 11 songs). Male stars appearing in female attire include Karyl Norman, “the Creole Fashion Plate” (24 songs), Bert Errol (10 songs), and Tom(my) Martell(e) (7 songs). (For sheet music to songs performed by Julian Eltinge, see Series 3.2.) The cover art suggests that while the female performers were presented as females performing “en travestie” the male performers were presented as female impersonators, creating the illusion of being female. Norman and Martell were unusual in that they contributed to the writing of the songs they performed, Norman frequently providing the lyrics, and Martell usually both lyrics and music.
The majority of the items depicting cross-dressing are found in boxes 1-3. The titles of volumes 4-13 can be misleading: approximately half the materials in vol. 13 (female impersonation) do not depict males in female attire, and include a significant number of items whose covers picture male teen idols of the 1950s and 1960s. Similarly, most of the materials in vol. 11 (females in pants) depict females in harem pants and other garments with leggings intended for females, rather than cross-dressing. The “gay” content in vol. 6 (Gay Love) derives almost exclusively from the application of current GLBT sensibilities to titles such as “My Regular Girl is a Regular Felller” and “I Wish I Were Some Daddy’s Boy”, which carried no such connotations to the generation for which they were written. Indeed, Judd’s selection criteria are unclear, but appear to include: (1) materials whose covers depict men and women clothed in attire considered appropriate to the opposite gender; (2) materials performed by known homosexuals (e.g., Liberace, performing Weill and Anderson’s “September Song” on the piano); (3) titles with a “gay” connotation according to present GLBT and mainstream sensibilities; (4) materials whose front pages depict men or women in positions that could be construed as “gay” or “lesbian” according to current sensibilities; (5) materials considered “camp” according to current sensibilities (e.g., Divine performing “Walk Like A Man”); and (6) materials with patriotic themes, regardless of whether they do or do not have any current GLBT connotation.
The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.
From the Collection: 20 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
From the Collection: English
Music: Nacio Herb Brown; lyrics: Arthur Freed. Motion Picture: The Broadway Melody.